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Moving Home: an Unexpected Twist on Freshman Year

Posted on: April 06, 2020 in Student Stories by Alyssa Tornel

The news came fast, and my family group chat was blowing up asking me when I’d be coming home. 

Leaving Cal State Fullerton because of the coronavirus pandemic meant a lot of things. It meant the abrupt end of my freshman year on campus, the cancellation of two of Funny People Society’s biggest improv shows (I’m a performer) and the conclusion of my everyday dorm life with friends. 

I live in Northern California, near Oakland, so it’s not like I can get home easily or drive over to campus quickly to pick up a few things.

 My cousin Pablo, who goes to Chapman University, texted me an hour before he was leaving for home to see if I wanted to hitch a ride with him. His car was packed with his own belongings, so two backpacks with what I considered essentials were all that would fit in the car. I left everything back in my dorm. 

Unfortunately, I left the day before housing sent the email that residents could move out permanently. However, if I had waited, it would have taken three weeks for my mom to come and get me. Once housing sent out the email asking students to move out, my dad and I had to make a quick, two-day trip to pick up the rest of my things. The campus and dorms felt like a ghost town.

Finding a new normal back home has been interesting. 

So far my days consist of waking up, cooking, playing Animal Crossing and having my sister cut my bangs at 1 a.m. — you know, the usual quarantine routine. My family feels a lot better that I’m here and safe. And they’re happy that I can help babysit. My family works in health care and appliance repairs, so their work is considered essential. My cousin has no one else to help watch her 6- and 7-year-old kids, so while I’m logged into a Zoom session, there’s a 50-50 chance that my little cousins could be making a guest appearance.

The transition to online classes has definitely been the hardest part of all of this. 

My internet connection is pretty bad, so Zoom crashes at least once every time I’m in a session. I’ve never taken an online class and would never willingly sign up for one. I know that I’m struggling to focus on a class at home when things like my phone or family are fighting for my attention. 

I rely on face-to-face interactions with my professors and classmates to help keep me on track with my assignments, and Zoom just isn’t the same. Some of my professors are struggling to set up class. It’s a lot of waiting until the last minute to know if I have an online class that day or not.

While the transition hasn’t been easy, it’s nice knowing that we’re all going through it together. FaceTime has helped me stay connected with family and friends, but it’ll be nice when we can see each other face-to-face — hopefully soon. 

Staying home is hard, but I know we all have to do whatever it takes to flatten the curve.

Cal State Fullerton is looking for stories from our campus community about being a witness to history. Contact Senior Director of Digital Media Michael Mahi at

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    Alyssa Tornel

    Alyssa Tornel is an editorial student assistant with the Strategic Communications and Brand Management Department at Cal State Fullerton. She is majoring in Cinema & Television Arts.


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