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How One Freshman Is Coping With Her First Year of College Being Cut Short

Maya Dampier and Riley Dion posing for a picture in front of an ocean.
Maya Dampier
KUNR Youth Media reporter Maya Dampier (left) and her cousin, Riley Dion, on a trip to the ocean. Dion is a freshman at the University of Oregon and will be completing her academic year remotely from Reno, Nev.

Riley Dion is living in Reno with her family, but she’s a freshman at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Like many colleges across the country, her campus closed after spring break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and she is finishing her first year of college remotely. She spoke with KUNR Youth Media reporter Maya Dampier, who is also her cousin, to reflect on how the spring semester has unfolded.

Dampier: [What] was it like having it to move back all your stuff from your dorms over spring break?

Dion: It was unexpected, and they made us fill out forms and everything to get in, but the campus was dead. They weren’t allowing anybody on. The public wasn’t allowed to be out there, so it was just very eerily quiet. But for move in, I had my brother and my dad to help. And so with my mom, it was just me and my mom this time around, and so it took us three hours, and a hundred flights of stairs it felt like.

Dampier: Are you keeping in touch with your friends from Oregon?

Dion: We have a group chat called the ‘burgess boys’ because that was the hall we lived in. So we have a group chat, that we use and we send pictures and stuff, but we did a zoom call last night! So that was interesting. But we’re trying to keep in touch as best as we can.

Dampier: So now, what are some unexpected things that have happened since quarantine has started?

Dion: Online classes. I didn’t think that they would proceed as normal, but they are, and some of the teachers have assigned double what they would’ve. So that was interesting. But just watching the whole world shut down, that’s definitely taken a toll. I did not expect to go to a grocery store and be placed behind a plastic screen to check out.

Dampier: Have there been any good things that have come out of this for you?

Dion: I get to sleep. I mean, I am on a regular sleep schedule. Back up at the university, I think I’d get up at 7 a.m. and go to bed at 1 a.m. because of all the homework, so I’m actually on a good sleep schedule.

Dampier: What are some of your online classes like? What would you say is your hardest one?

Dion: I would say my hardest one is [chemistry] lab 228, simply because it’s a lab, and we’re not actually doing it. [We’re] just taking the data for granted and working with the data that they provide us with, but they don’t teach us how to do it. It’s just a lot of work ... it's the hardest class.

Dampier: Yeah, that’s tough. So what do you miss most from school?

Dion: I’d have to say the dorm rooms, as cliché as it is. But it was nice living with all of my friends in the same building, and I didn’t have to go that far to get anything I needed or see anyone I wanted to.

Dampier: So what is it like being back home?

Dion: Being home, it’s harder than I thought it would be. I didn’t realize that the college classes being online would take up as much time as they did. But living back with [my] parents, and going from those big transitions months apart, it’s confusing and hard to deal with sometimes, but I like being back. I got my family here, so everything is nice. It’s a lot warmer.

Dampier: And so for next year, have you figured that out? Or what is the school doing to help those who haven’t yet?

Dion: So as of right now, we are on term for fall. We should be going back and everything. I’ve heard rumors, but as far as we know right now, the fall term is going to proceed as normal. So I’ll probably be moving back up there late summer.

KUNR's Youth Media program is a special partnership with the Washoe County School District to train the next generation of journalists.

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