Students look forward to starting in-person classes, meeting virtual friends in the fall

Fiza Kuzhiyil

When Devashree Shah saw her fall 2021 schedule on the morning of registration, she couldn’t believe it. Beside the course number, every single one of her classes had a room number attached.

“I was like, ‘Wow, we’re really doing this,’” neuroscience freshman Shah said. “We’re really going back in (person).”

After two semesters of mostly virtual classes, UT announced about 90% of classes will operate in person in the fall. From walking on campus for the first time to meeting their virtual friends, students are excited about the little things they’ll experience in the fall.

Despite living in a campus dorm, Shah said she has never attended an in-person class at UT. Right after registering for her classes, she plugged the buildings in Google Maps, trying to find the quickest path from class to class.

“We need sunlight, so getting outside (and) being forced to walk more is going to help a lot of people with their mental health,” Shah said. “I need the sun to make (me) feel better, so (I want to) be able to be outside again around people, even if it’s just random people.”

Living in El Paso, freshman Sam Porter has never visited UT, but she said she made friends virtually through her classes. As a radio-television-film student she said she looks forward to working with her friends in person to create films and work on projects.

“I feel like my life has been on hold for the past year, and it’s really worrisome when I’m in a degree that revolves around communicating and working with others,” Porter said. “Finally getting to start is really exciting.”

Journalism freshman Thalía Menchaca said she looks forward to walking on the Moody Bridge her friends always talk about. As an introvert, she said she found it easier to reach out to people and make friends virtually, but she’s excited to meet them in person now.

“I wonder if they’re gonna think how short I am,” Menchaca said. “I am … exactly 5 feet (tall), and everyone notices … how tiny I am in person. It’s so strange to think we’re going to be in person having a conversation.”

In Helotes, Texas, business honors freshman Ryan Jacob lives five hours away from his friend in Frisco, Texas. He said they often joke about driving two and half hours each to meet in the middle and get boba together. Jacob said when he moves to Austin in the fall, he can’t wait to find his new favorite boba shop.

“One of the worst things about quarantine is that I could barely see my friends to eat out when that used to be such a big part of hanging out for us,” Jacob said. “To hear all the food (recommendations) from people in Austin and see how innovative some of the places are is super exciting, and … I cannot wait to say that (I’ve) tried them.”

From smiling at someone on the campus bus to laughing with her peers when something funny happens in class, Shah said she’s excited to experience small interactions with strangers again.

“The trivial moments are the most important because they make you feel like you’re not alone,” Shah said.