Students at the University of Guelph-Humber are back on campus after two years of online learning. For many students, this is the first time they are getting the on campus experience; so there is no doubt that remote learning has caused them to miss out on the social aspect of university. The question is, are they keen on re-entering the social scene after so much time behind the Zoom screen?
For many students, socializing in a new environment can feel a bit daunting. Alexandria Patraj, a first year kinesiology student, said she didn’t know what the social scene would be like on campus. “I didn’t have any expectations going into it, I knew I was coming to do schoolwork and play basketball, that was it,” she said.
Although she joined the junior varsity basketball team, that was all she was interested in when it came to clubs or sports at Guelph-Humber. It is expected that online learning took a toll on students’ social lives and skills, but Patraj said it didn’t affect her too much as she sees herself as more of an introvert.
Residence is at full capacity this year at Guelph-Humber, and students are looking for any opportunity to get out of their rooms after previous years of little to no in-person interaction.
Kaitlynn Lewis, a third year student specializing in digital marketing and social media, works as a resident assistant. She is required to keep the residence code of conduct in check, consult with students about their mental health, as well as coordinate events for students in the building. One event was called “Condom Casino,” where residents were able to learn about consent and safe sex through casino games. Lewis said a lot of people showed up for the event.
Moving into a residence at full capacity is a new experience for many students: “There are always big groups of people sitting in the dining hall now. Which hasn’t always been the case in previous years. So I think a lot of people are just so much more willing to be out of their rooms.” Lewis hopes for more engagement in activities now that there are more students in residence.
Majority of third year students began their university career at the height of the pandemic, so mixing and mingling online was the only way to go. The lack of face-to-face interaction raises a feeling of anxiety when it comes to finally meeting peers who were behind your screen three odd years ago.
Third year student Ernest Opoku noticed some uncertainty in his social interactions. As students haven’t had many opportunities to have in-person conversations throughout the previous semesters, Opoku says it is “a little more anxiety inducing.” However, he is willing to overcome those social jitters as he mentioned joining the Best Buddies club and looks forward to attending more events. “Part of university is that you get to meet a bunch of different people from different walks of life,” said Opoku.
As students become accustomed to the on-campus lifestyle, there is hope that the Zoom etiquette that was once adopted, can be replaced by the in-person university experience that students have been longing for.