On my first day of senior year, it took me over 40 minutes to get to campus. I live eight minutes away, and I was late to my first class.
There should be no reason why I had to leave my apartment at 11:20 a.m. and still be late to my 12 o’clock class. But, now that campus is back to full face-to-face instruction with the addition of too many students than housing accounts for, the traffic is beyond anything we have seen before.
About 20 minutes of my time in the car was spent sitting on the same road watching the traffic lights change from green to red without even moving an inch up. Another 15 minutes in the car was spent circling the parking garages, hoping to get lucky enough to find an open spot before the line of cars behind me.
I have experienced the University of Tampa in an array of different lights since my freshman year. My first year at UT was the most normal. COVID-19 was not around yet, so we experienced college the way it should traditionally be experienced.
Then, sophomore year took a turn as COVID-19 sprung up and left the campus deserted. After spring break, there was practically nobody on campus to fill the dorms, classrooms, or parking garages. It was nearly entirely vacant.
Junior year brought some back to campus. With hybrid courses, there was still a lack of students on campus than normal, but seeing classmates and professors in person was an option, unlike the year prior.
And now, as my senior year of college starts, I am blown away by the number of students that actually attend UT. I’m not sure if this is from the major growth of new incoming students or if I am just not used to seeing everyone back on campus after COVID restrictions.
Like I said, the parking garages are beyond packed. Even with the addition of the new garage, students are still left with little to no parking. If you’re hungry, you better be prepared to wait in insane lines in Morsani and Vaughn. You may even have to fight for a seat in Ultimate Dining.
Even just walking freely through campus feels like a maze, which could be from the massive number of students out and about with the combination of blocked off areas for construction.
If you get to campus early for class, allot some time towards pushing through the crowds to ensure you still get to class on time.
Not only are we back to fully in-person classes, but we are back to sitting in tightly packed little rooms, despite the new Delta variant floating around. All three of my Tuesday/Thursday classes are spent tucked away like sardines in a classroom far too small for the number of students.
There is practically little to no air flow even possible. I have to climb over legs and backpacks, squeeze past tiny slivers between desks, and just hope no one is bothered by me being practically on top of them.
It’s hard to tell if the traffic on campus will sizzle out as the year progresses or if this is what the rest of my senior year will entail. For now, I’ll have to start my days an extra hour earlier than necessary just to ensure I don’t get marked late or absent every day.