UC Davis students create different lifestyles with the “new normal”

CAPTION: Juniors Wynne Velzy and Ethan Wellerstein study at the Quad on the UC Davis campus.

By Maria Anderson,

BlueDevilHUB.com Staff–

On a Tuesday morning at 11:24, two third-year college students sit outside the Memorial Union, facing the otherwise empty UC Davis quad. A cup of Starbucks iced coffee rests on the table nearby, next to a silver MacBook and two masks. Only the distant sound of bikers and the students’ voices penetrate the silence of what would, in a normal year, be an epicenter of activity. 

Not all students are going back to classes on campus or even entering the campus at all; some are staying home full time, but staying home and working all day has caused stress among some students.

There are many programs that students can use as an outreach if they need help to cope with their stress.  One program is Each Aggie Matters, a mental health movement on campus.

Each Aggie Matters is run by Audrey Maskiewicz, who currently works for the UC Davis Student Health and Wellness Center in the Health and Education Promotion department.  She says that this movement “stands for the destigmatization of mental illness and encourages students to seek out ways to help themselves and others cope.”

Even though some students are struggling, others are thriving with remote learning. 

 “I think a common thread among all of us is that we’ve been challenged to find new and different ways to practice self care and make ourselves happy,” Maskiewicz said.  

But students miss the interaction they had in the past with other students.  As a first-year, Dana Lawrence, an Environmental Science and Management major, created a hopscotch drawing with her roommates that went along the entire sidewalk near their dorm, and as people completed it, they would cheer from their dorm.

“It was truly a heartwarming experience,” Lawrence said.  Experiences are the highlights for many students across campus.  But since classes are mostly online now, these experiences are being continued in different ways.  

Even internships and part-time jobs are continuing despite the pandemic. 

“Many employers are offering remote opportunities and are actively posting positions in a variety of fields looking to hire UC Davis students despite the climate we are living in,” said Terri Ramirez, an employee of the UC Davis Career and Internship Center. The Center is continuing to provide virtual job fairs.

Students are managing to juggle school and job responsibilities. Kylee Neidigh, a fourth-year double major in economics and Spanish, has set a schedule for herself every day to keep on track. Her day includes online classes, working as a babysitter, studying and TV watching until midnight. 

Looking back at her past years in college compared to how this year is going, Neidigh said “being a senior during COVID-19 will definitely be memorable!”

The daily lives of UC Davis students vary from housing to activities to classes but for senior Kayla Elmendorf, her lifestyle changed four years ago when she found her passion.  “The biggest lesson I’ve learned in college is that motivation comes when you find something you are passionate about,” Elmendorf said. 

Majoring in Viticulture and Enology, Elmendorf lives in a Napa winery, while often commuting to UC Davis to work in a lab, studies the heat and drought resistance in grapevines.

Even though she lives in a winery, she still has housemates who live near UC Davis who she visits.  “My favorite times are when my housemates and I get together and have house dinner,” Elmendorf said.

Since the weekdays are full of studying, students try to take the weekend off.  “We try to not do any school work Saturday so we can enjoy a break,” first-year student Jessica Good said.

Times can be rough, but, according to Good, “my advice is to not stress and truly enjoy college. It’s a once in a lifetime experience so make the most of it.”

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