I should have known that a day in the life of a Troy student during this academic year was going to look a little bit different when I was searching the shelves at every store in the city for hand sanitizer as a part of my back-to-school shopping.
As a senior during a global pandemic, making sure I attend the correct pod (more on that later) and I have a mask on me has become a normal part of my daily routine.
So, it’s morning here in Troy, Alabama, as you all fall asleep after a long day of work and school. To help you with the location, Troy is an hour south of Alabama’s capital city, Montgomery. We are also about two hours north of the beaches along Florida’s panhandle area – that’s where many students spend weekends and spring break relaxing on the sugar-white sand when it is warm.
Just like any normal school day, I get dressed, grab breakfast and get ready to head out. But then, as usual, I have to turn around because I forgot a mask – again. Masking is mandatory on campus, as well as in the whole state of Alabama – at least until April.
Our classes here are scheduled for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, or Tuesdays and Thursdays – depending on the course. However, due to social distancing guidelines, our classes have been split into “pods,” which basically means only half the class meets in person at a time.
I only attend class in-person once a week because of pods and it meets Tuesdays and Thursdays. Typically on the day I am not physically in class, I have an assignment online or will attend class virtually. I am also taking an internship course and an online journalism course to finish out my program requirements to graduate in May.
After class, it’s time for lunch. I grab my student ID and head to the Trojan Center where our on-campus food court is. Our student ID has “flex points” that are essentially used as preloaded money. Some students choose to go to the dining hall where there are all-you-can-eat options of home-style cooking and a variety of international foods, but I like the convenience and selection at the food court. It’s fast and my days are packed – so, fast is good.
After lunch on the days that I have class, I head to work. On the days I do not have class, which is most days as senior only taking one in-person class, I head in at 9 a.m. sharp. I am really grateful to have a job working on campus in the athletic department where I help with media relations. That’s also where I intern. I am studying broadcast journalism and sport management, so my job there gives me great experience and I even get to travel with some of the sports teams. I wear my mask as I traverse the hallways of the field house before sitting in my chair to start working. I get off at 5 p.m., and then it is time to start doing homework. Due to the pandemic, my amount of homework has increased as in-person attendance of class has decreased.
I also have a job and scholarship at our student newspaper, The Tropolitan, where I am editor-in-chief. Each week I help section editors, writers and photographers plan and coordinate coverage of our campus. We meet virtually (thanks COVID) on Thursdays for planning, and then gather material until the next Tuesday. Wednesday is deadline day. That’s when the section editors and I meet in our newsroom to design the newspaper’s pages.
We have to send our pages to the printer by 5 p.m. and the finished paper hits newsstands early Thursday morning before students trek to class. Then, we start the process again.
It feels like I’m always on the go, but it is usually fun.
When it’s time to eat dinner, I personally tend to lean toward cooking at home. However, on-campus dining options are open, or students can venture into the small city of Troy and find some fast food or local eats.
Because of COVID-19 and living in a smaller college town, students have to get creative with evening plans. Staying safe and healthy is a top priority. I usually will gather with roommates or close friends for movie nights and go hang out at sporting events – while of course staying socially distant.
Being on different sides of the world surely brings a lot of differences, but we are all still just college students trying to make it, one step at a time.
This perspective was written as a companion piece to an article from a writer with our new international collaborators in Slovenia. To read the day-in-the-life article from our collaborator, click here.