By Melanee Terry
This past week, UMPI students travelled back home to finish the remainder of the fall semester fully online, including senior Ines Ngoga. Ines, a Biology major, moved out of the dorms and headed home to Portland to be with her family for the rest of 2020. While many were able to enjoy a quiet Thanksgiving at home, these next few weeks will be busy for them–especially for those who are adapting to online learning–as they finish this eventful fall semester.
Ines has lived in UMPI’s dormitories since her freshman year, so she was able to see the drastic changes to the halls this semester. Due to COVID-19 regulations, students were required to follow health and safety guidelines. As a very friendly person, Ines had difficulty living in the dorms this semester. She was unable to have gatherings in her room or hang out in large groups. A lot of Ines’ friends were unable to come back to UMPI, so she also lost some people in her friend group.
“There were a lot of things that we weren’t allowed to do this fall due to restrictions and guidelines which shifted the whole atmosphere,” Ines said. “The best part of college in my opinion is hanging out with friends and just having a good time. Also everyone just kind of stayed in their own little world so there weren’t any new connections happening.”
Like many other students at UMPI, Ines prefers in-person classes. She is a hands-on and visual learner, so being in a classroom benefits her education. In-person classes allow students to see their classmates and professors face-to-face. Not being able to physically interact with someone is not as personal. A classroom environment also gives students an educational environment and setting to learn in. As a senior, Ines’ classes are a little lighter, so she has been able to adapt to online learning environments fairly easily.
“In a way, my academics have improved. With online classes, you’re given more time to complete things,” Ines said. “ It’s a lot of work but you can go at your own pace. Especially since a lot of professors are understanding of the new circumstances, you have a lot more freedom and flexibility to do your work. I like that aspect of online classes.”
With the changes to her education, Ines’ social life has also been affected. As the president of Black Student Union and the BioMed Club, Ines stays very busy. Her amount of activity on campus was restricted this semester due to the changes on campus for COVID-19. Although she has more time to socialize, she was not able to physically socialize with friends or classmates on campus.
“I am a very social person and I enjoy going out with my friends. I haven’t been able to do all the things I had planned with my friends, especially during the summer, but we’ve still gotten together a few times. So my social life has been affected but not as much as others,” Ines said.
Despite the changes to her lifestyle this year, she has tried to make good use of the additional time on her hands. She has been reflecting on life and getting to know herself better. She has picked up on a couple of hobbies including crochet and embroidery. She spends time on Netflix and Spotify, which have been positive outlets for her.
Now that Ines is home, she is starting to make the transition to fully online. Ines is usually living in the dorms during this time of the year, so being home at the moment feels strange. As many students know, taking classes and working from home is much different than being on campus. Students are no longer in a work or campus environment. Due to the variety of distractions at home, getting work done can be difficult.
“Being home has made it very hard for me to focus and get motivated to do work. I feel like I am on vacation and that makes me really lazy and I can’t find the motivation to do anything,” Ines said. “The only thing pushing me is knowing that the semester is almost over and I can see the finish line.”
As the end of the semester nears, students are doing everything they can to finish this difficult year off strong. With changes to UMPI students’ social lives and education, they are still persevering. The switch to online learning is a hard one and students like Ines are trying to stay positive. With so much downtime, Ines has been able to reflect on the year and everything she has learned.
“The biggest thing I’ve already learned is to cherish your loved ones. I think 2020 has taught us to be more appreciative and to tell our loved ones that we love them,” Ines said. “And even with all the bad and terrible things that have been happening all over the world in 2020, I’ve also seen amazing acts of kindness and selflessness and that has restored my faith in humanity.”