COVID@College: Grace from UC Riverside

By Tracy Huang, Teehan McGinness and Selin Tukel, Posted March 19th, 2021

Video by Teehan McGinness

What is your name, university, and year?

My name is Grace Liang, I go to University of California, Riverside. I’m a second-year, and I’m a liberal studies major.”

What course of action has your university chosen to take regarding COVID-19? How do you feel about this?

My university has all online-learning and is mostly off-campus except for freshmen, and you have to have a pretty good reason for why you want to live on-campus. For the freshmen that do live on campus, it’s only one person per room, and food gets delivered to their dorm rooms. They can’t go out at all, and they also have to take a daily COVID test every single morning.”

Do you personally agree with this stance?

“Yeah, I do agree, because Riverside has one of the highest cases of COVID. I feel like what they are doing is pretty safe.”

“I feel like what they are doing is pretty safe.”

What is your living situation at your university? On-campus, off-campus, staying at home? What are the safety precautions being implemented?

“I am staying at home right now. As for safety precautions, I just try not to go out as much as possible unless it’s necessary. Occasionally I do hang out with friends, but it’s always in a very small group with masks on and never really just out in public.”

How has this transition impacted your educational career? (Online, limited in-person classrooms, etc.) Will this impact your track to graduation and how has using online learning changed your educational experience? How do you feel about this?

Luckily, this won’t impact my track to graduation, but it has definitely impacted my education in the way that it feels harder to feel involved in school, and it’s harder to even pay attention in class just because there’s so much distraction at home. Just being so close to my bed makes it really hard to stay awake all the time. A lot of professors seem to have given up a little bit on teaching virtually and they’re definitely not trying as hard either.

“it’s a lot harder to stay focused and be motivated to try as hard.”

What has been the most difficult aspect of your school’s transition?

“The most difficult aspect is definitely the academics, just in the way that it’s a lot harder to stay focused and be motivated to try as hard. Also, finding opportunities for helping out or finding internships, things like that, have been a lot harder just because it’s a lot harder to reach out to professors and connect with people. And definitely, socially, it’s just very hard because nobody really likes to turn on their cameras or just do anything so it’s hard to make new friends.”

How has COVID-19 impacted you/your family’s financial situation?

“For our family’s financial situation, luckily it’s been pretty good. We’ve never had to have big worries, but we did have to be more careful with our spending, especially how we eat our food because my family used to like to eat out a lot. Especially in the beginning of the pandemic when food was becoming more scarce because people were buying in bulk, we had to be a little more careful. During quarantine, I got two jobs just to be able to make sure that I stopped spending my parent’s money as much, and just so we could be more financially stable just in case.

How has COVID-19 impacted your friendships/social life at school? Extracurriculars?

“As for friendships, this pandemic ended a very big friendship for me. During my freshman year of college, I met this really awesome group of people and became a huge friend group. But during the pandemic, maybe just because we weren’t seeing each other every day anymore and just for other personal reasons, the friendship ended. It was very, very hard for me to understand in the beginning, but now, I just think that it’s for the better. It’s been hard for me to find new friends so that was a struggle, but luckily I would say that I am someone who is decently social so I was able to force myself to reach out to new people and just try to find friends like that. But it has definitely been very, very hard. I didn’t do too many extracurriculars in college just because as a freshman, I was still trying to find out what there is I can do. But as for my friends, I know it has greatly, greatly impacted them and they have been very devastated about it.

Do you see the situation at your university changing in the near future?

“Yeah, a month or two ago, all the UC’s sent out an email saying they’re planning to open in the fall of 2021, so hopefully it’ll open. I just hope that if it does open, it will be safe. For people living near campus or on-campus, they have been scheduled to start getting vaccines, so i feel like if they do open, it will be very safe.

“Try and do your best to reach out to people.”

What would you recommend for students who are struggling to adjust to this new educational experience? Do you have any other personal stories you would like to share?

I would recommend that you definitely try and do your best to reach out to people. This way, they understand what you’re going through because living at home can be very lonely (especially for me, since I’m an only child, so not having my social interaction with anyone really sucks). Really reach out to people for them to be your support system, and just remind yourself that this is not the end. You just have to push through and it will eventually get better, and remember that your academics are very important so giving up now will affect you detrimentally in the future.”

If you are interested in sharing your story, please contact Selin Tukel ( for more details.