College, COVID-19, School

A Day in the Life of a College Student During the Pandemic

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting at my college desk with 7 more days left of New York state monitoring. I’ve been at college for a week so far and have another week before my classes start. This year is unlike any other–I’m a student at one of many colleges trying to attempt in-person learning in the midst of a pandemic. 

This was never how I thought I’d begin my last year of college: with three COVID-19 tests under my belt, masks whenever I leave my house and all my classes on Zoom. I thought I’d be using this last year in New York to hike the beautiful Hudson Valley in the fall, go apple picking, and visit museums in New York City. But that isn’t the reality. How do you begin to navigate this new world? Here is a day in the life of a college student during a pandemic!


9:00 AM 

I wake up at any hour, normally earlier because I have a hard time sleeping. I let my housemate know I’m awake by watching and liking her Tik Toks, so she comes up from her bedroom on the bottom floor to meet me in the living room. We fill out our college health questionnaire every morning while we make our coffee. Every student has to fill this out daily health screening to get reported back to the college. We must report if we’ve had any symptoms & if we’ve come into contact with anyone who has tested positive. We also take our temperature every morning to make sure we’re being as safe as we can.

After filling out this form, my housemate and I drink our coffee and sit around for a while. Classes start August 31 (September 1 for me), so we have a lot of time. Normally I read the news and then get dressed for the day. 


12:00 PM 

Our dining hall is open on a “grab-and-go” basis. We all got reusable tote bags to carry our meals to and from the dining hall. My college laid out socially distanced arrows and lines so that we can appropriately and safely get food. We have a bunch of different sections: salad, sandwiches, chips, desserts & milk. We always grab some extra almond milk & chips to have for later. Our college puts our food (meat, vegan, gluten-free) in a to-go container so that we can eat it outside. You can’t sit inside any of our dining options so after getting our food, we can sit anywhere outside! There are tents set up with picnic tables around the dining hall spaced 6 feet apart. 


2:00 PM 

I’m trying to prepare myself for my last year of college so I’m taking these two weeks before school starts to get ready! I set up my desk area with a dry erase calendar so that I can keep track of all my deadlines. I use the afternoons to plan and get ready. My housemate and I planted a small garden with lavender and mint in our windowsill so that we can have fresh herbs. Lately, I’ve started getting ahead on my work, so this means prepping for my thesis. 


4:00 PM 

I always try to get some form of exercise because it helps me sleep at night. I hated working out for most of my life. It was only during this pandemic that I started to work out. Exercise gives me a break in my schedule to focus on something just for myself. If you’re like me, someone who isn’t a big fan of exercise, I suggest “Blogilates” or “Popsugar Fitness” on YouTube. They’re free workouts that range from 10 minutes to an hour. 


6:00 PM 

We head to the dining hall for our last meal of the day! My campus has a lake not too far from our senior housing so we like to picnic there. I have a portable picnic table I ordered from Amazon and a picnic blanket to make our meals a little better.  I love eating outside and being able to spend my dinner with my friends (socially distanced of course!) and watch the sunset. 


9:00 PM 

We come home, take off our shoes, and sanitize our hands. My housemate and I take our nightly temperatures, too. We both embroider, so we sit down on our couches, listen to some music and embroider.


 Being at school is nice. It’s my last year, and it’s my last chance at all being together before we go our separate ways. This isn’t how I planned this year to go nor is it how I wanted it to go, but I’m so thankful that I have the chance to be here. Having this chance, and being with others who make me feel happy and safe is absolutely incredible.


Zoë Zahariadis

(she/her) Charter member of GirlSpring's teen leadership group, the Springboarders, as a teenager. Now, a senior at Vassar College and is majoring in Political Science/French & Francophone studies with a minor in Women's Studies.

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