Before COVID-19 dorming in college was considered as being your first time on your own. Having your own place, making your own decisions, and having a new sense of freedom — living by your own rules. Majority of students live in the same dorm halls, take classes on the same campus, and live by the same rules as others. When COVID-19 hit, it unexpectedly changed the course for many colleges and universities. Many students moved back home when classes started to do virtual learning. Additionally, students that have graduated are moving back home and are preparing to transition into finding a job during this crazy pandemic.

In reality, not every student lives the same way. We all have different experiences when living at home. Many of us have more freedom than others. Some may have to support their families by working or cleaning the house, have their own room or shared rooms, or even have to financially provide for themselves throughout school. We all have stories. I’d like to take the opportunity to share the various stories of college students, and students who graduated this year, including myself.

“When COVID-19 hit in March, I had moved out of the dorms and back with my family into our apartment in the city of San Jose. Having a twin sibling that goes to school in San Diego, we both brought all of our belongings and tried to make space, enough for the 4 of us. The two-bedroom apartment was very much organized to fit the ways of the two people who lived there, which were my younger brother and mother. I ended up sharing a room with my brother for the time being and my sister moved into my mother’s room. I was used to sharing a room but it was difficult when there was no closet space. I had all my clothes in the boxes that I used to move out of the dorms. At the beginning of the pandemic, my mother was very strict about letting any of us go out and still is. With things opening back up she has gotten a little more lenient, but I do feel like I am still having to follow her curfew rules just as it was when we were in high school. It is understanding, as to where we live there is no parking at all. The streets are packed with cars and my mother only has one reserved parking spot. I was fortunate with finding a job at the beginning of the pandemic. I was on a leave of absence at my old job with Target, and I was able to end early and go back into work within two weeks. It was difficult with the switch to online classes, but I too had started helping around the house as I had helped pay the bills from what I earned at Target. I was also responsible for buying groceries.”

-Lesley Lopez, 3rd year at Cal State Channel Islands, Major: Chemistry

“So yes there have been changes since I’ve been back home, but there have also been things that stayed the same. I feel that over the past 4 years, I’ve shown my parents how much I’ve really matured and grown. They see it in me and know that I’m a responsible person. For that reason, I have earned my freedom. Over time, I have learned how to work with my parents. We both have this understanding that as long as I am transparent and communicate with them, I can have the freedom that I want. I am privileged to have such great parents, where I don’t have to pay rent. Despite that, I still give my parents rent money to try and help out as much as I can. They don’t need or ask for help, but I do it as a thank you for all the sacrifices they have made for me, to allow me to be in the position I am today. I still have my own space and am free to express myself as I please. I can still come and go with respect to my parents, as long as I keep the transparency with them. I love being back home. I have missed my family. I missed my home. Post-graduation has been nothing but pure happiness. It has been full of nothing but accomplishments and opportunities. With my 3 guardian angels up above watching over me, I continue to strive for greatness and hope to inspire those around me.”

-Abel Arevalo, Major: Business, Graduated Spring 2020

“My adjustment to being home has gone more smoothly than I would have imagined. I thankfully am privileged enough to have space for myself to peacefully apply for jobs, and look into different grad schools and the programs they offer. While on the job hunt, I currently have been helping out my parents who work at family members’ RV Rental business. My parents are somewhat traditional, and like to have me in the house so they know I’m safe. Before moving back home, I spoke with them regarding how I would want things to be different for my life. They are the type of parents who have always pushed me to put school first. Not to get distracted by spending time away from my studies. They would normally have control of where I went and with whom, but living on my own for a couple of years helped me gain a liberating experience that I wanted to continue to have. In our terms and conditions, they mainly asked that if I were to go anywhere, to let them know where I would be going in case of emergencies. With this pandemic going on, I mainly make trips out to buy groceries but on the rare occasion when I might want to go on a hike or go to the beach, I let them know so they don’t worry. It’s a work in progress, but I love that they respect my decisions and are able to find a middle ground.

I feel like the main thing that has been a downer while being home, is the fact that so many opportunities for new memories with friends have gone down the drain because of this pandemic. I went from seeing my friends almost every day and living in the same buildings as them, to moving home and not knowing when it would be a safe enough time to see them again. It was such a vast adjustment that took a significant toll on the mental health of everyone. There are days where I feel incredibly overwhelmed, but I try to adjust my mindset and become thankful that my family and friends are in good health. Overall, I believe that this has been a strong transition but it has made me value time with others much more than before.”

-Alondra Bautista, Major: Sociology, Graduated Spring 2020

“Since the transition back home from my apartment, it has been a bit of a process. I am very thankful to have my own space for not only myself but to focus on my work and school. As much as I loved my apartment, I had to move back home due to the pandemic. I lost one of my jobs and financially wasn’t worth staying there, since both my school and my other job were moved online. Moving back from my apartment was extremely tough, especially because at the same time I was moving out during the first week of classes. I already felt that I was behind during introduction week. Scrambling to figure out due dates and expectations for classes, as I was trying to move all my belongings into my room. Being home will allow me to save money for many things, but of course comes with chores of taking care of the house and helping my parents. With the transition to virtual for both work and school, I have felt it has been a bit more pressure than the traditional sense of physically going to the places where I needed to be. With time I hope this process gets easier and that I can adapt quickly. Although I am moving back home, my parents understand that I have been on my own for about 3 years and have had my taste of freedom. Since the pandemic, there aren’t any activities that are available I can do with others, but being cooped up in one place can take a mental toll. Since coming home, they understand when I need to go out for a drive or just need to get out, they only ask to tell them where I am going and to check in once awhile. Which I appreciate and am very thankful for.”

-Bryant Cruz, 4th year at Cal State Channel Islands, Major: Biology

“It is my last year of college. I am no longer living at school and have been continuing my education at home virtually. It was an easy transition but it felt really long to me. I was tired and drained from moving in and still had to situate myself in my younger brother’s room, since we are sharing rooms. I do have a section in the room to work and focus on my classes. As well as split the closet in half for space for my clothes and essentials. Everyone works at home or is in school. I’m grateful I don’t need to pay for school myself, but I know some students have too. In my house there are rules and with COVID currently, I can’t come and go as a please because I don’t want to put my family at risk with their health conditions. However, I was still transitioning, being at home all the time since I was used to seeing my friends. Going out with no problem when living at school. I’m not super great with change, so it was harder to adapt than I thought it would be.

Majority of my time I am at home doing homework, working out, or cleaning the house. My parents expect me to pick up my own weight and do my part for the house since I live here. That means cleaning the house, yard, or my pets and following their rules. I don’t mind too because they are right. They provide the most for us, so I must do my part for my family and our home. It’s only fair. As well as that, making my own money by remotely working. If I want certain things for myself, I don’t ask my parents, so I have to make my own to provide for myself. They have to pay bills, our home, and our tuition for the school. Therefore, I should be able to buy my own things or any school items like books for myself. Moving back home, I have adapted to my new routine with school, work, exercising, and cleaning. I am grateful for what I have and enjoy being home. I feel it became easier now with a schedule I have created for myself. Plus being in a work environment helps me stay efficient with myself. My family taught me that, because success comes from hard work. Having a huge support system around all the time helps me feel better to strive towards my goals.”

-Brianna Marroquin, Senior at Cal State Channel Islands, Major: Organizational Communications