From the class of 2021 to 2025, The Daily Tar Heel spoke to UNC students who reflected on their experiences throughout the last two years of the pandemic.
Chapter 5: ‘We were forced to fast-forward our lives’
Several days after the fall 2021 semester ended, first-year Yakob Lemma sat in a dorm room doing math problems to prepare for his algebra final.
Most students had already vacated campus because Winter Break had begun, but Lemma had tested positive for COVID-19 and needed to postpone his final exam to isolate in a dorm room.
“It honestly felt kind of like a jail cell,” he said. “But it was much better than having the chance to spread it.”
This semester, the University is not providing quarantine and isolation housing for students as it had in previous semesters. Lemma said he doesn't like the mindset that catching COVID-19 is inevitable.
He said he had also expected a stronger mental health support system in place coming into UNC, especially because of how big of a transition period moving to college was for the class of 2025.
Because of the impacts online learning has had on his last two years, Lemma felt like he was entering college with the mindset of a high school junior.
“It felt like we were forced to fast-forward our lives,” he said. “I felt like we got two years, or one and a half years, taken from us. And it felt like we were forced to mature and go into this brand-new world when we didn't even finish our other chapters.”