MINNEAPOLIS — Hundreds of University of Minnesota students trickled onto campus with hopes and dreams, neatly packed into boxes. Naomi Thomson said wheeling all her belongings in felt especially different this year for her as a transfer sophomore.
"My last year at another school - it was entirely online," Thomson said. "I lived on campus for a little bit, I walked around campus and see close to nobody, and it was like aww man, I might as well just move home and take a year off and come back to it."
In search of that holistic campus experience, Thomson came to U of M. She said the decision was easy.
"I'm honestly stoked," she said. "I'm happy that the U is taking COVID precautions so I feel safe about it, especially with them requiring the vax. I feel more comfortable being on campus. I enjoy seeing people again and I'm excited to go to class in person and finally be able to learn again."
Another transfer sophomore, Kristin Weir, said she too had online classes last year.
So finally being able to breathe Minnesota campus air is reassuring, through a mask and with a vaccine requirement.
"I feel pretty safe," Weir said. "I feel like every type of college is doing like the same thing so, I don't think it's too different from anywhere else."
The idea of sitting in a lecture hall with potentially hundreds of others was also not a big deal for freshmen Michael Collins and Bryn Soehren.
"From what I've seen the seats are like four feet apart so I don't feel horrible I guess," Soehren said. "I'm kind of used to it now in big crowds. In the lunch room it was pretty crowded, but I guess I just have to get my education and power through it."
And while Collins said he had in-person classes all throughout his senior year, it's nice, to be a little more independent away from home.
"I'm excited to be able to walk to classes and have the personal freedom," Collins said. "I'll be in my dorm and just walk to class whenever I want."
Other than the fact that these four will share a zip code for the next year, they had another thing in common.
That they've missed this. More specifically, they've missed each other.
"Honestly, meeting people and the school spirit," Thomson said when asked what she was looking forward to the most. "I'm really looking forward to that."
"I guess I haven't really met a person in a really long time," Soehren said. "It's been two years since I've been in school and met someone. So once that happens that will be pretty fun."