Column: VCU, Home away from Home


Shianne Berger

Photo submitted by: Shianne Berger, CHS class of 2020, hangs out in her dorm room at Virginia Commonwealth University between schoolwork

Hey, everyone. It feels like forever since I’ve been able to write for The Prowler, and I’m beyond excited. When Mr. Platner asked me if I wanted to write this article, I quickly snatched the opportunity.

I just graduated from CHS last spring, and the summer seemed to fly by. Before I knew it, I moved down to Richmond, Virginia, to start my college career at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). I’m majoring in forensic science with a minor in chemistry.

As the semester began, there were a small number of COVID-19 cases, but then the number skyrocketed. Thankfully, the students and staff here are taking necessary precautions, so the cases have dropped dramatically. However, we are still required to take a health check every day and to wear masks whenever we leave our room.

The campus itself has also taken many precautions such as limited seating in dining areas, closing down certain restaurants on campus and going online for some classes.

This semester, my classes, with the exception of one, are all online. My one in-person class only consists of nine people, not including the professor, and we all wear masks and wipe down the desks when we arrive and when we leave.

My online classes have specific meeting times on Zoom or Blackboard, except for two.

     These two classes are described as “asynchronous,” which just means that they don’t have a specified time when we meet. The professors upload lecture videos or the assignments, and we take it upon ourselves to watch them and complete the practice.

I am thankful that next semester I can have more in-person classes since I learn better that way. Additionally, thanks to all the AP and dual enrollment classes CHS offered, I’ll be considered a sophomore after this semester.

It’s such a different lifestyle in Richmond than in Chilton. First off, the population is almost 230,000 people, which is totally different from the 4,000 people in Chilton. There are so many cars on the road all the time, I hear sirens daily and there is a plethora of restaurants. I’ve also had to figure out the bus system, and there is so much energy every time I leave my dorm. There is also more of a mix of different races and ethnicities.

I love meeting new people from down here and hearing about different places around Richmond. I have heard of Belle Isle, which is a small island in the James River right in Richmond. People have said that it’s beautiful, and I hope I’m able to visit it sometime.

In addition, it’s a blast to see peoples’ facial expressions when I ask where the “bubbler” is or they hear how I pronounce “bag.” I’ve had many people ask where I’m from because I sound different.

Although it is hard to be in a completely different state from my family and friends, it’s a great opportunity for me to spread my wings. It also requires me to grow up and be independent.

There are certain things that I am doing 100 percent on my own that I most likely wouldn’t be doing if I was closer to home. As cliché as it sounds, I’ve started doing my own laundry and washing my own dishes. I’ve also done my own grocery shopping and had to budget my money. It’s a great feeling when I’m able to call my mom and tell her what I did.

Despite how different my freshman year at college has been compared to my ideal year, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ve been able to get close with my roommate, who is also from out of state. I’ve been able to pick up new hobbies and learn new things about myself. I’ve been able to meet new people that I probably wouldn’t have met and make new friends.

I believe that next semester will be better, and I’m so excited to continue this journey. However, I’m super excited to be coming home for the holidays.