The First-Year

COVID on Campus: The First-year

“I honestly didn't think that I would be able to make as many friends or have as much fun as I did.” - Lila Broden
Published: January 20, 2021


COVID on Campus - Lila Broden - The First Year
Freshman Lila Broden studies psychology.

Going into freshman year, I knew that everything was going to be different because of all the restrictions. But I honestly didn’t think that I would be able to make as many friends or have as much fun as I did because of all the restrictions. So I was kind of preparing myself for it to be so drastically different. But then when I got here — yes, we can’t go to games, and there were no parties — I was happily surprised to see how many friends I made. Even though most of my classes were online, we were able to have fun by going out in small groups, going out to dinner, or just hanging out with the people in my dorm which was really fun. And I didn’t think that would all happen. But it did, which was awesome.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I cannot imagine going to in-person classes. I can’t imagine getting up at like seven o’clock in the morning and then walking around campus. I had one in-person class one day a week for my math recitation. So it wasn’t even a real class. It just became so routine for me just to wake up, half asleep, and log on to my classes. My senior year got cut short, obviously. Half of it was online, too. So it wasn’t that different. But I genuinely cannot imagine walking from building to building like going from class to class because that’s …  I didn’t have any of that. So it’s kind of weird to think of that happening.

Last week I went to get food in Newhouse with some of my friends. And I was walking like, “What is Tolley? What is that?” I really don’t know campus because I never had to learn. Someone asked me where the geology building was and I had no idea. Any random building — I don’t know what any of them are. It’s going to be me asking people for directions everywhere.

My RA would try so hard to get our floor to do bonding activities. But it would be Netflix Party, which is not really bonding. There really weren’t that many things to do. They’d also text and be like “we’re by Flint, we’re playing soccer, come join.” It was random things to do together. It was a mix of not really feeling connected, but then also feeling connected. Because I’m going around campus with my friends, going around Syracuse with my friends having that experience. So the only thing I really felt disconnected from was classes and games and stuff. But I feel like overall, being on campus with my friends and just walking around, outweighs not being able to do that other stuff.

I feel like most people broke the rules. Yeah. Like, I know I broke the rules.

You were not allowed to go to any other dorm buildings, which includes Flint, but you could sit with people from Flint right next to you at dinner in Graham. Everyone was kind of sad about that. Why can I sit right next to someone from Flint, or like an entire table full of people, like right next to them, which would still give you COVID, but not be able to go in the building?

I had a very tight group of four friends in Day. And then I was friends with another set of roommates. So it’s my group of four, then a group of three. And then sometimes all of us would hang out. And then there’d be other girls in Day who I would hang out with and we would all hang out with girls from DellPlain. From social media, I met this girl named Ali, who’s in DellPlain. We talked over social media a lot because we’re both in the same major so we met each other through the Facebook group and started talking. And then some of my friends were like, let’s hang out with this group of girls and she was part of that and I was like, “Oh my God, Hi! I remember you.”

COVID on Campus

COVID on Campus

This as-told-to interview is part of COVID on Campus, a series created by students in the Reporting classes at the Newhouse School in Fall 2020. COVID on Campus documents the experiences of students, staff, and faculty living through this extraordinary time.

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is a contributor for The NewsHouse.