The 2020-2021 FUS Freshman Year Experience, Featuring: Covid

Lara Decastecker '23
Franklin Campus


Ciao, what a year it’s been!


And though the show did indeed go on, it’s finally time for the curtains to close. With finals week almost done and summer

around the corner, as a freshman, I was reminiscing about how I didn’t get to experience a normal orientation week, had

my first two Academic Travels moved inside Switzerland borders, and went from in-person classes to online then back to

in-person all in one year. After missing prom, not getting normal high school graduation, not getting to experience a

normal first year of college at first seemed horrendous. But in all honesty, it wasn’t all too bad. It had its good and bad,

just like it would otherwise.


Also, it’s important to note that the past year and a half has been a whirlwind for every FUS student. In 2020, FUS students

had on-campus Academic Travel and Ticino (the region of Switzerland we are in) was the first of Switzerland hit with the

pandemic, so FUS had to react fast in 2020 to accommodate to the changing times. Not to mention, the sophomores had

their first year cut short from normalcy, juniors were expected to still plan for internships, and graduating seniors didn’t get

to have their family visit or an in-person ceremony. 


In all honesty, I said this last bit because I want to make it clear that my recounting of the first-year experience is not here

to diminish the difficulties all students faced. I understand adapting to the ‘changing times’ or ‘unprecedented times’ (as all

the emails said) was not an easy or delightful feat for anyone.


So now back to the title, how exactly did the incoming class look back at their first year at college during a pandemic?

I was able to ask three freshmen a few questions, including topics on how their social life was, how academics went,

and overall their experience and hopes for their remaining years.


Interviewee 1: Sophia Mendola

Picture of Sophia

   1. How do you think covid affected making friends?

“Personally, I found it to be more challenging to make friends because of covid. Though the school hosted many virtual

events to try and make it easy as possible, I at least struggled to form lasting friendships on zoom. The best connections

I formed this year were the ones I made in person, whether that be at the beginning of the fall before classes were online,

or towards the second half of this semester with academic travel and in-person classes."


    2. How did you like online classes? any tips?

“I had mixed feelings about online classes. At times I hated them because it was harder to focus and truly learn, but I did

enjoy being able to sleep in more so they weren’t all bad.

"...Truthfully I don’t have many tips besides that I used lots of to-do lists and google calendar to keep up because I think t

hat with online classes it’s a lot easier to fall behind/ lose track of all the expectations."


    3. What was your favorite thing of this year despite covid?

“My favorite thing this year was probably academic travel. Though I only got to go one time, once I did get to go I definitely

saw why it is such a strong selling point for Franklin. We weren’t able to go far so the “travel” element wasn’t really the best

part, but getting to spend time in person with different people really helped me to feel more connected to the school.”


    4. Where do you plan to travel next semester since you didn’t get to as much this year?

“Next semester I really want to go back to France again. I should be going there for academic travel but I would also love

to go and see my host family in Grenoble again. I also really want to go to Venice ASAP because it looks so beautiful and

it’s been on my travel bucket list for a while now.”


Interviewee 2: Uday Khattar

Picture of Uday

    1. How do you think covid affected making friends?

“I think Covid definitely made it harder to meet people, especially while classes were online. Virtual interactions felt more impersonal than physical ones.”

    2. How did you like online classes? any tips?

"I was not a fan of online classes, mostly because they were not engaging, and sometimes boring. Also, I felt like my motivation to work and participate was less in online classes compared to in-person ones. As for tips, I think that taking regular in-person style teaching and doing it online doesn’t work. The online model is harder to work with, but I think more student involvement and less lecturing would make people feel more engaged in the class."

    3. What was your favorite thing of this year despite covid?

“My favorite part was meeting people from all over the world. Also, we’re fortunate to have been able to come to campus last fall, when many other students were full online.”

    4. Where do you plan to travel next semester since you didn’t get to as much this year?

“I really want to travel to Southern Italy as well as Croatia once it is allowed!”


Interviewee 3: Julissa M.

Picture of Julissa

 1. How do you think covid affected making friends?

“COVID didn’t stop me from making friends on campus at all. I did want to meet locals though, and never really got the chance for that because everything was closed.”

    2. How did you like online classes? any tips?

“I despised online classes with everything in me. I would miss so much class because the campus wifi was so bad. I would get really distracted too since I didn’t even have to have my camera on at times. As for tips, I would say make sure you’re in a place with solid wifi and few distractions.”

    3. What was your favorite thing of this year despite covid?

“Academic travel with Professor Zannechia was my favorite. I had the best time with my class on AT. Even though a lot got canceled, I just loved getting to experience new things with my classmates every day. It’s one of my best memories ever.”

    4. Where do you plan to travel next semester since you didn’t get to as much this year?

“I’m going everywhere. Probably France first though.”


Final Words

As a freshman as well, I know I haven’t gotten the full Franklin experience I knew was possible. Nonetheless, hopes

are certainly high for the next year and many of my friends are excited to get vaccines. FUS Students make the most

of what they have and certainly will be able to experience the normalcy of the college experience very very soon!


To our next meet-up via the web!

Ci vediamo presto!

(We will see each other soon),


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