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'Kids find a way': A look at how the pandemic has reshaped college life

Ted S. Warren
The Associated Press
Fan photos are shown in empty seats at Husky Stadium at the University of Washington before a football game between Washington and Oregon State Nov. 14, 2020. The pandemic has changed a lot about the college experience, beyond just sporting events.

Joshua Piatok should be in London right now.

It’s where he had planned to spend his first semester as a Northeastern University student. Instead, he’s staying in a Boston hotel with other science, technology, engineering and math majors.

It’s one of many adjustments college freshmen have had to make in a year of crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has forced many to temper dreams and expectations, and navigate a new social world amid social-distancing rules.

“There’s a lot of people who are having a conflict with a roommate because they care more about the COVID restrictions than their roommate does,” said Piatok, 18. “That is not something I’ve experienced personally, but that’s apparently been a problem for a lot of people.”

Piatok, his roommate, and their circle of friends have tried to invent ways to find adventure as college students in a partially locked-down city. Among them: They ride Boston’s transit system, ride bikes, buy food and eat food late at night.

On one such excursion, he said, he watched police officers chase what appeared to be “a crowd of drunk kids running across a field.”

“Even though there’s supposed to be these COVID restrictions, kids find a way,” Piatok said. “They find a way to socialize. They find a way to hang out. They find a way to party, even if it’s just in a dark field at midnight in Boston.”

Piatok chronicled some of his early college experiences for Transmission, KNKX’s podcast about life in the year of COVID-19, in partnership with KNKX’s Take the Mic series.

You can listen to an excerpt of the episode above. It was produced by Jennifer Wing and Joshua Piatok.

And you can find the full episode of Transmission, "The COVID College Experience," here or wherever you get your podcasts. 

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Jennifer Wing is a Producer for our weekly show, Sound Effect.