Fall Semester: The Good, The Bad, The Strange

Fall Semester: The Good, The Bad, The Strange

Well, we did it. Congratulations everyone, we officially made it to the end of the Fall semester! Honestly, we lasted longer in person than I, or anyone I’ve talked to about it, had expected. When we started in September, I would have put money on us being online by the end of October. There were a couple of weekends where I really thought we were done for (the one before Halloweekend being the big one). It was a rollercoaster of a semester and not what any of us were expecting. Here is, in my opinion, the good, the bad, and the strange from my fall semester.

The Good

Being In-Person or At Least In Syracuse: Being able to take classes from my apartment in Syracuse is such a different vibe than my childhood bedroom in Canada. Not only do I have roommates that are working just as hard to offer encouragement, but it really does put me in a more academic mindset. Being in the Newhouse buildings for some courses was also different as it helps to give you more of a sense of community and feel like you are part of a program and university that is bigger than just you and your computer screen.

Thinking Globally: One of the nice things about a global pandemic is that everything, and everyone, is digital, which means that we can interview people in other countries for stories, apply for internships in other cities, and even take courses at other schools. I took a super interesting course in investigative journalism offered by the University of Texas at Austin (if they offer it again next semester, I thoroughly recommend it).

The Bad

Hybrid Model: I hope we can be back on campus and have in-person classes next semester, but if we’re not, my vote is for entirely online. I’m not sure about other people’s experiences, but hybrid did not work out as well as I had hoped. There is a disconnect between you and your peers in the class, but the professor’s attention is divided as well. Overall I found entirely in-person or fully online to be better set-ups and have adjusted my course selections for next semester accordingly.

The Strange

Large Size Zoom Classes: I was in one larger scale zoom class this semester, and I was very frequently surprised by what I watched people doing when they thought no one was look. One person was clearly playing beer pong during class while another person was shaving. Countless people fell asleep, one classmate had a phone conversation on a landline, and one even zoomed in from a hot-tub. Many of these classmates also forgot to check if their mute button was on, and we definitely heard some conversations not meant for our ears.

Armed with my thermal layers and winter coat, I am, once again, cautiously optimistic for what next semester will hold. Hopefully, we can find a way to defy expectations a second time and stay in person for the whole semester. Personally, I’m really looking forward to my courses and, with luck, being able to get in some great upstate New York skiing!

Mackenzie Snell