Harvard Freshman Has Never Even Seen School’s Campus Due to COVID
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People used to make fun of correspondence schools. How is this arrangement any different?
‘I’ve never seen the campus’: What it’s like to attend Harvard from your childhood bedroom
It was 3:30 a.m. on a Monday during a typical all-night cram session, full of procrastination and random life stories.
Her long, dark hair pulled back into a messy bun, Josie Chen worked alongside her classmates on a chemistry lab report that was due in two and a half hours.
What wasn’t typical was that, instead of hanging out in a common area of a dorm, she was perched at a table in her childhood bedroom, trying not to disturb her parents and two siblings who were asleep on the other side of the cardboard-thin walls.
Chen, 18, is a first-year student at Harvard, even though she’s never set foot there. The others in her study group were cloistered in their rooms on campus.
Given how odd this semester has been for her, Chen said, “That was the moment I think was the closest that I got to what I thought my freshman year of college would be like.”
College isn’t normal for anyone this fall. Uncounted numbers of students like Chen have chosen to forgo the typical first-year experience to stay closer to home, whether to help out their families or to safeguard their own health. Their first impressions of college are turning out to be challenging, isolating, frustrating and confusing, with a few bright spots.
Harvard gave freshmen the option to start their college careers in residence in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but Chen and 250 other first-year students chose to stay at home — in Chen’s case, with her family in Oakland. She worried about leaving her father, a home care worker, and her mother, who was a waitress until she suffered a knee injury, in the middle of a pandemic.
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