Art by Leah Bae
My alarm clock begins shrieking at 6:30 a.m. sharp.
Beep! Beep! Beep!
Groggy and disoriented, I don’t even realize what a special day it is — Aug. 30, the first day of in-person classes back at Pepperdine.
My last in-person class, along with many other students, happened in March 2020, meaning nearly a year and a half passed since COVID-19 forced life to come to a screeching halt.
But now, finally — the time is here, and class is back in session.
Despite it being 6:30 a.m. and having an 8 a.m. class, a peaceful familiarity passes over me — the moment I’d spent so long hoping and praying for — has finally arrived.
I begin my typical routine: wash my face, do my makeup, but this time there’s a twist. Instead of plopping back onto my bed to log in for a day of Zoom classes, I actually have to pack my backpack with all the supplies I’ll need for the day.
Pencils, paper, binder, laptop — all tossed in and sealed shut with a satisfying zip of my backpack.
One more quick glance at myself in the mirror, and I’m ready to go. Suddenly, the full reality of what I’m stepping into hits me. Nervousness, excitement and anticipation fill my stomach — feeling like a stampede of elephants rather than butterflies.
Who will be in my classes? Will the professor be nice?
All around me, I hear the hurried steps of other people trying to get to class. There’s an excitement in the air, it seems to be thick with anticipation — despite the earliness.
Finally, I’ve arrived at the Appleby Center, where my first class is. I hurry to put on my mask, a thick fog instantly covering my glasses.
Instead of checking the Zoom chat box for familiar names, I scan a sea of faces to see if there’s anyone I know. There’s something oddly comforting about being able to do this again, and watching other people do it too.
Alas — I have friends in this class! I grab a seat and notice right away how they’re the good old-fashioned rolling desks, ones I haven’t sat in since my first year — despite now being a senior.
Excited chatter fills the room and I happily begin talking to my friends — no more need for private messages over Zoom; little whispers and giggles are now shared in person.
The professor begins lecturing and the furious bang of typing on laptops fills the classroom.
Click-clack. Click-clack. Click-clack.
It’s certainly much louder than me, alone in my room at home, typing notes. It feels communal; all of us united by the seemingly endless drive Pepperdine students possess.
After an hour and a half, my notes are full, and my brain is strained after trying to stay focused. No more catnaps or drifting off during class with the camera off — now focus is required and expected.
As I pack my bag to leave the class, warmth fills my body.
This is home. This is Pepperdine — finally back in person.
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