The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Life in Amherst as a Remote College Student

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For all UMass Amherst students - from freshmen to seniors, this semester has looked very different than we all imagined it would. As a junior this year, I never would have thought that I would be taking my five business and communication courses completely remote from my off-campus apartment. Although this year and this semester have brought many challenges to all students across the world, UMass helped us get through it and I have learned a lot about myself as a student and person. 

Remote Classes

This semester I took all five of my courses completely virtually. I’m not going to pretend that this semester has been super easy for me, and that I wouldn’t have loved to be able to be sitting in lecture everyday with other UMass students, but despite the unfortunate circumstances UMass students and faculty have been more than amazing and accommodating with all of our needs. My TA’s and professors were always available to meet and answer questions, and even though I never met them in person I really felt like I was still connected with them.

For me, the key to success in a completely remote setting was staying organized. At the beginning of the semester I saw myself becoming very easily overwhelmed with my schoolwork. To fix this, I always made sure to write down deadlines on my calendar as soon as I got them and write to-do lists. When every class is virtual, it can be hard to remember each and every assignment, quiz and homework that is due. Every class is not set up the same way — some are synchronous lectures on Zoom, some are just recorded lectures that you can watch whenever you want. Creating to-do lists everyday really helped me stay on top of my workload.

Living in Amherst

I am super grateful that I have been able to spend this semester in Amherst with my roommates in our off-campus apartment, even though it is a very different semester. This was my first semester in an apartment and I really enjoyed the independence and being able to live with my friends. Social life in Amherst looked a lot different this semester as well, I made sure to only socialize with my close friends who I knew were also getting tested twice a week at the Mullins Center like I was. I really wanted to stay as safe as possible.

One thing my friends and I enjoyed doing when it was warmer outside was eating out in downtown Amherst. A lot of restaurants were offering outdoor dining so it was super nice to have this sense of normalcy. You can check out my blog about some of my favorite spots to eat in Amherst here. Another upside to this semester was my friends and I found a ton of new outdoor hikes and nature walks that we never knew were there! My new favorite hiking spot is Mount Norwottuck, which is right near Amherst and has the prettiest view, especially in the fall

COVID-19 Precautions

Normally, I would be lining up to see UMass Hockey play at the Mullins Center - but this year was a little different. Students who were living off-campus, and had in-person classes were required to be tested twice a week. It was also strongly recommended that all off-campus students get tested twice a week, even if they did not have an in-person class. 

I was completely remote this semester, but I still went twice a week every week to get tested. I think that getting tested regularly is super important to stopping any potential COVID-19 cases from spreading. Getting tested at the Mullins Center was super easy and fast and everyone working it was always helpful and friendly.

This semester, I have learned how important it is to make the right decisions and act mature in your actions even as a college student. I learned valuable lessons in time management and organization, as well as independence, that I will take with me in my personal and professional life. As much as I learned, I'm excited that things are on the verge of going back to normal. With vaccinations starting, students starting in Fall 2021 will be experiencing a UMass alive with students in the dorms, dining halls full of our #1 dining, and campus amenities like live sports and our Rec Center. While there's a lot I gained from my time in Amherst during the pandemic, it's exciting to feel the hope of the normal college experience on the horizon!


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A Letter to my High School Self

Text reading: A Letter to my High School Self, images of Maddie graduating high school, on campus at the University of Massachusetts, and on an athletic field

Dear Maddie,

Hey me my senior year of high school, I’m writing to you three years later as a junior in college! I know you’re probably super stressed right now from juggling school, extracurriculars and choosing where to go to college but I hope that by writing you this letter, as a junior in college now, I could ease your stress a little and give you a few tips.