The university life we miss (and are missing out on) because of the pandemic
2022 marks the third season of this pandemic, and given the recent surge in cases, it looks like it won’t be ending anytime soon. While most have adjusted to the new normal of almost everything, there is no denying that a lot of old routines are dearly missed. And for many students, education during the pandemic not only provides many challenges, but also robs them of the vibrant student life that comes with the face-to-face experience.
The shared silliness and the struggles of campus life are but part of the core memory of the university experience that usually provides a lifetime's worth of memory to cherish.
Beyond the textbook and outside the confines of the classroom, here are some of the intangible experiences that give a distinct and memorable color to the entire fabric of student life.
Food trips at every turn
Taking the top of the list is the gastronomic experience of a university student. With so many street foods and restaurants near the schools, students are in for a treat—and sometimes literally as they celebrate with friends after a grueling finals week.
John, a third-year student from Far Eastern University-Manila, shared that he misses "hepalane," an area along C.M. Recto Avenue lined with street food vendors selling all kinds of Pinoy snacks, the most.
He said: “I really miss eating with my squad along ‘hepalane’, because there’s just so much variety in street foods. For a few pesos, it feels so sulit. Plus, I think my stomach has evolved its own immune response after a year of feasting there. Kidding! My favorite go-to grub there is siomai. Now, I usually order online while doing my schoolworks, and I swear it hits different when I enjoy my food while standing on the streets of Manila with my friends. Maybe the polluted air adds a bit of flavor?”
Not only do students miss going on food trips around their schools, but the pandemic has also caused these businesses to shut down due to lesser demand. For many that have survived by going online with their menus, let’s keep supporting them!
Commuting in the middle of the Metro traffic
Beating the rush hour traffic on the way and after school take up some of the biggest chunks of the student life. While not many miss the stressful Hunger Games-esque experience of hailing a jeepney or bumping elbows while standing on a bus, some of our university students still find the charm in the Metro commute and are missing it during this pandemic.
Anna, a fourth-year National University Manila student, reminisced about commuting on the LRT Line 2 on her way to school, “I miss setting into my ‘senti’ mode while riding through the stations of the LRT. I feel like I’m a star in my music video as I listen to my playlist, mentally preparing myself for another day at school. I also miss hearing ‘We are now arriving at Legarda station,’ and doing that weird walking-slash-running as I try to reach the other side of the Legarda crosswalk before the green light comes on.”
It looks like our university students also miss the unintentional workout of rushing to class on time, especially when the next one’s at the farthest possible distance on campus.
Admit it, college would have been extra boring without the different events on campus. Not only do you get to chill out from your busy college acads, but you’ll also have the chance to mingle around with other university students and even win cool prizes from the sponsors’ booths. Hans, a sophomore student from the University of the Philippines Diliman, wished (and is still wishing) to experience UP Fair in person now that he’s in the state university.
“I find it so unfair that I haven’t gotten to experience [UP Fair] in the flesh yet, since I was studying in the province prior to entering college. I’m the type to enjoy live concerts and I feel like it’s one of the things that make college life more fun. Maybe on my senior year, things will be better, and I’ll finally jam to my favorite bands on the university grounds,” the isko said.
Like Hans, many students can only hope for the better in our situation when it comes to live events. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!
Casual strolling in between breaks
Academic pressure has always been difficult to deal with, and many students cope by taking a breather and wandering off for a change of scene. During face-to-face classes, this was way easier to do as you can take a step out of your classroom anytime, exploring the nooks and crannies of your campus while shaking the stress away.
Bea, a fourth-year student from the University of Santo Tomas (UST), recalled finding serenity in doing so, when she was still studying on campus two years ago.
The Thomasian shared: “A lot of people credit UST for quality education, but I decided to study here in the first place because of the beautiful campus. I felt very at home when I was there, and when I feel super stressed from my acads, I just take a quick stroll with my friends. It’s such a peaceful place and it really did wonders for my mental health. I wish I had that privilege again of changing my scenery, but I guess I’ll have to make do for now.”
Remaining cooped up at home while dealing with a lot of things is something that presents as a challenge for our students. We hope you’ve found more ways to take care of your mental health during these times.