Student life drastically different before and after pandemic

Bella Nieto, News Editor

It has been almost a year since UTSA closed its campuses and moved all learning online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as facilities reopened in the fall, the course structure, protocols, and precautions differ greatly from what previous students were accustomed to and what incoming freshmen were expecting.


In fact, as alumni and current students recount their experiences of their first years on campus, the dissimilarities are vast. Alumni Samantha Hardwick’s feature a fair share of socializing around campus, things that most incoming freshmen are privy to. 

“Some of my favorite things to do on campus were attending the talks that were sponsored and just hanging out when I could and meeting other students,” Hardwick said. “What was interesting about UTSA is that there was always something going on, something to go watch or participate in. I also loved the fact I could essentially live under the JPL when I needed to.” 


Current students have not been so lucky to experience the community engagement Hardwick describes. Sophomore Destiny Garcia described a day in her life as milquetoast in comparison to  the ideal college experience. 

“I start my day in bed and for the most part spend the entire day there,” Garcia said. “I really only leave the house to go to the grocery store and to print things at the JPL. Usually campus is like a ghost town.”


Aside from the usual socializing done on campus past students and current, pandemic-living students diverged on their involvement in students organizations. Former Public Health major Dulce Lopez was a part of the honor fraternity Phi Sigma Phi along with the Pre-Physician Assistant Association. 

“I was incredibly fond of the clubs I was a part of,” Lopez said. “I got to travel and meet hundreds of people. I really enjoyed our general meetings because it was a way to recharge and catch up with everyone. It was truly a great part of the college experience.”


Almost all UTSA organizations are conducting their meetings and events virtually, which has changed how some freshmen view them in relation to their overall college experience. While Lopez was fond of her group gatherings, freshman Emily Alvarado viewed organizations as necessary but draining. 

“I joined them only because I knew I was going to need them,” Alvarado said. “It’s kind of hard to have fun when you are staring at a screen and a large portion of the members on the call have their cameras on. There are so many people whose names I know, but have never seen. It’s a huge contributor to Zoom fatigue.”


Despite the harrowing differences, alumni still have hopeful advice for students as they navigate unprecedented student experiences. 

“I promise it will get better,” Hardwick said. This is definitely a weird couple of years for college students and it only gets better from here. Also, get involved in everything you can at least once. Be the awkward person in the back of the room if you feel that way, but definitely try to do as much as possible and get the most out of your time at UTSA.”