‘I really wasn’t prepared for it at all’: Gonzaga students adjust to life off campus

 

SPOKANE, Wash. — Every year, countless futures are molded at colleges across the country. Those futures are now on hold in the Inland Northwest as students adjust to life off campus.

Gonzaga senior Jordan Tolbert spent her spring break in Las Vegas, cheering on the Zags in the WCC Tournament. Once spring break was extended a week, she flew back home to California, not expecting she would be there for the next month. Soon after, she learned all classes would be taught online, effectively ending her senior year early.

“It kind of was nothing and then it became everything. Life was consumed by it,” Tolbert, a broadcast journalism and political science double major, says of COVID-19. “It’s been pretty sad. I think it was really, really upsetting I think in the first two weeks especially just because I really wasn’t prepared for it at all.”

Tolbert serves as senior class representative and had to watch as events she spent all year planning get cancelled. She will now get her diploma in September, as graduation has been pushed to Labor Day.

“Those moments you wait for your whole life… don’t happen,” she says. “The thing that kind of makes me feel like ‘okay, you can do this,’ is that every senior is going through the same thing.”

With all that in the back of his mind, junior broadcast journalism major Zach Walls considers himself lucky to be able to say he still has another year left at Gonzaga.

“No one could’ve told me I’d be watching my lectures from my bed at 8 in the morning,” he says. “I mean, that’s kind of a win, but other than that I miss walking to campus. You know, I miss seeing people and sitting in the classroom.”

More time at home has given Walls and Tolbert time to reflect — on this year, this unprecedented time and the people and thoughts helping them through it. Both say they are doing their best to focus on the positives instead of dwelling on the past.

“I don’t think I’ve played this much Rock Band since I was in like seventh grade. I’ve been watching a ton of Netflix, even though I think I’m the only person in North America who hasn’t seen Tiger King yet,” Walls jokes. “I’m still getting a good education, I still get to live with one of my best friends in Spokane. And I mean, life is still happening and going on, it’s just kinda not in an ideal circumstance, but I mean circumstances could be a whole lot worse.”

Tolbert says getting angry about something out of her control would add more stress to her plate in an already stressful time in her life.

“[Going to online class] definitely helps me feel like things are more normal. Like, ‘to take my mind off stuff, I’m gonna go watch a lecture,’ which has never really been my style,” she laughs. “It just kind of goes to show that nothing we do is permanent, and things can change so quickly, so I think just being thankful for the people around us is the only way that we can really get through it.”