The Class of 2024 has experienced an unprecedented entry into a community adapting to a new normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Navigating the academic and social life at Peddie during a pandemic that impedes in-person interactions has posed novel challenges for freshmen, making it difficult to adjust to an unfamiliar environment.
Remote students and those on campus have had varied experiences acclimating to the uncertain circumstances. For instance, freshmen on campus have met relatively fewer difficulties with adapting to their Peddie life. “The life on campus is pretty normal and cozy. People are treating each other very kindly just as if there is no COVID,” said Jerry Jin ’24. However, it is not all without flaws: “the only difference is that we all have to wear masks wherever we go. It is hard to remember that at first but as we adapted to that, it seems normal now,” said Jin.
On the other hand, remote first year students, especially those abroad, have revealed a different picture. “At first it was difficult adapting to the time schedules, but, after 5 months of remote learning, I think I’m pretty much acclimated to it,” said Coco Meng ’24.
Moreover, these students have established their own Peddie community overseas to compensate for their absence from campus. “I have made some friends who are on campus, but I also bond with other remote students, who I feel a connection with because we’re stuck in the same situation. Some of my [Peddie] friends from Shanghai also hang out together,” said Andy Zheng ’24, an international student from Shanghai. Nevertheless, remote students recognize the additional challenge. “It’s much harder interacting socially as a remote student compared to being on campus,” said Zheng.
In addition to navigating the social struggles Covid presents, freshmen must also wrestle with the academic challenges. “The most challenging part is studying through Zoom while having to go to classrooms in alternating weeks. Adjusting your routine to different study modes is quite challenging in hybrid weeks,” said Jin.
Remote learning also curtails students’ involvement in the larger community. “It’s been very difficult to find normalcy and balance through this abnormal time and unbalanced life, to interact with people even when you are thirteen hours away, and to find the sense of belonging and community that Peddie upholds,” said Sean Li ’24, another remote student from Shanghai. Even though Zoom helps unite Peddie and its students around the world, varying time zones and physical distance constitute an unfortunate predicament for freshmen abroad. Nonetheless, freshmen have shown their hopes and expectations for this coming spring.“Personally, I look forward to COVID getting better so I can go back to campus. I also look forward to making more friends, though remotely, just so that I’d know a number of people when I actually go to campus. I also hope there’ll be more opportunities to be involved and appreciate the Peddie spirit,” said Zheng.