Firsthand account: Commuting from home during a pandemic


Patrick Murphy | Northern Star

The parking lot behind Gabel Hall sits empty in April. During a typical semester, Lot 38 is usually full.

By Jack Baudoin

Even though we are in college, it does not always feel like it right now. We are not going to and sitting in class like we used to, and that is the exact opposite of what someone would think they would be doing in school.

Many students still are experiencing a college lifestyle, whether they are living in a dorm or staying in an apartment close to campus. This is not the case for me.

I am a commuting student, and I have been since transferring to NIU at the beginning of last year. Living about 30 minutes away from campus has never been a problem for me. I love to drive, and I have been saving a lot of money on rent by living with my parents. Now, with classes mostly online, my feelings towards being a commuting student have somewhat changed.

Do not get me wrong, I love my parents and living with them is all well and good, but commuting to NIU gave me a sense of freedom. It was nice to get out of the house and head to campus for the day to attend class. Now that all of my classes are all online but one, I feel as if this sense of freedom has been ripped away from me.

I am a person who likes to move and be busy. Now that I can attend all of my classes from bed, moving doesn’t seem as important as it used to. I still go shopping, hang out with friends and many other things, but I miss getting up in the morning and driving to DeKalb. I feel as if my world has shrunk in a sense.

I said earlier that all but one of my classes are online, but that is only half true. While I am in a French class that meets in-person, there is an option to stream it on Blackboard. Because I have this option, and because it would be the only reason for me to come to campus, I find myself staying at home and just streaming it. It is really nice to have this option, and while it would be nice to go into class, this way I can save money on a parking permit. However, I do still plan on attending class in person every now and then.

I am still getting used to school online. I was looking forward to hopefully being in class this semester, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Hopefully next semester more of my classes will be in person, and I will be able to commute regularly once again.