UCSB Students Experience A New Normal

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Illustration by Grace Park

Analissa Nunez

Staff Writer

The UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) student experience feels more fractured than ever. With remote learning distancing our relationships to the campus and each other, what it means to be a gaucho is ambiguous. Although the change from in-person to remote classes has been difficult, not all students have felt the same way.

I interviewed two UCSB students about what their college experience has been and how it has changed since last March. Currently, classes are being taught synchronously or asynchronously, an abrupt change compared to how classes were taught last year. Without the normal classroom experience, students are finding it difficult to interact with professors and other students, making it an isolated experience.

 “I love recorded lectures,” said Michelle Politiski, a fourth-year writing and literature major. “It just makes sense, for accessibility reasons I’d love to be able to sit through an in-person lecture and just listen, and be able to pull up a video of that lecture later on to take notes on the material.” 

“Without the normal classroom experience, students are finding it difficult to interact with professors and other students, making it an isolated experience.”

Though she enjoys learning at her own pace, she’s found that her professors aren’t as accommodating with students like they were with last spring quarter. Now, it appears that students are expected to be fully prepared and adjusted when it’s not the case for a majority of students. “I’ve experienced a lot of difficulties remembering which assignments are due on which days because frankly, I’m much more used to being reminded when I show up to class,” Politiski said.

Other students are finding it hard to adjust to remote instruction because they don’t feel like they’re fully grasping the material like they would in an in-person class. Alexandra Wishowski, a fourth-year linguistics major explained her difficulties with retaining information this quarter: “I can’t learn by reading because I have to be in the lecture to learn which helps me do less studying for tests. It’s more time consuming for me to reread things over and over again because I can’t absorb the information, there’s a reason why I never missed an in-person lecture.”

Along with her difficulties comes the reality of graduating this spring. As a transfer student, Wishowski only experienced two in-person quarters at UCSB and had planned to become involved in research during the spring. With most research opportunities being paused, it’s harder to find remote experiences. 

In contrast, Politiski shared how her post-graduation plans haven’t been derailed as she plans to take some gap years before applying to graduate school while working during that period. However, with the current state of the economy, finding reliable work is a genuine worry for her. She hopes that by the time she does apply to graduate school, we’ve returned to normal, but to a slight extent.

“Now, it appears that students are expected to be fully prepared and adjusted when it’s not the case for a majority of students.”

Aside from academics, another harsh reality is the lack of connections that students have made since beginning the school year. 

Nallely Carillo, a new transfer student majoring in sociology, explained her struggle with making friends after she moved to Isla Vista. “I only have two years here so I want to make the most of my experience. Most of the new people I’ve met have been through my roommates so I’ve been able to make some connections,” Carillo explained.

Even though she’s making connections virtually, Carillo has still been able to find a community by joining the UCSB Legal Education Association for Diversity, a pre-law club to gain advice on applying to law school in the future.

Although quarantine has temporarily halted our lives, college students can find positivity in these challenging times and bond over our similar experiences. For many, this pandemic has been a period of healing and personal growth as we learn to accept our “new” normal.

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