Staff Writer: Madison Mataxas
Photo Courtesy of Wingate University
To most of us, freshman year of college is filled with joining clubs and student organizations, meeting new people, adjusting to being away from home, and overall starting the journey of self-discovery and career searching. While this is what it looked like to upperclassmen during their first year, this year’s sophomores are spending their fall semester trying to make up for lost time on campus after COVID-19 made it “virtually” impossible to have the normal college experience.
On Wingate’s campus, many of this year’s sophomores are finally able to get their bearings. This includes figuring out where their classrooms are, what professors are like during in-person classes, and, overall, what being in an academic environment with other people is like.
“This year has definitely been a new experience for me since COVID forced all of my classes online,” sophomore Hana Kubalova said. Kubalova, an International student from Slovakia, did not know what to expect at an American university but was not met with the experiences she anticipated due to the pandemic.
Not only were her classes changed around, but her first season on the Wingate Swim Team was nothing like she thought it would be. Kubalova said that “It was hard getting to know the swimmers that were already on the team since they already knew each other.” COVID made it nearly impossible for athletes to gather in large groups last year and for a team of eighty people, this was no exception.
Much like Kubalova, sophomore Katherine Fronczak from Texas had only heard about what college can be like from her older sister. This, however, was far from what she actually experienced going to college during a pandemic. “I had no idea where anything was,” Fronczak said, “Being isolated from my professors and classmates last year made it harder to get to know them, so it feels like I’m meeting them for the first time this year.”
She shared the same worries when it came to getting to know the team as fellow swim team member Hana Kubalova. “I already knew Hana because we had a group chat for the incoming freshman swimmers so we talked over the summer,” Fronczak said, “Meeting the freshmen in-person plus the rest of the team was tough because of COVID regulations.”
As the pandemic was starting to be controlled with vaccines and quarantine, Fronczak and Kubalova felt that they were able to form connections with their teammates that have grown more this year since the entire team can gather and do activities together. While there are still some challenges that this year’s sophomores face, they are slowly becoming more acquainted with Wingate’s campus, all of its traditions, and the opportunities it has to offer.