Students reflect on returning to the classroom, and the unparalleled experience of being together
Since the pandemic struck in March 2020, NYU has been following state and federal public health protocols, eager for the day when we could return again to a full in-class teaching and learning model. While classes did resume in person for a reduced number of students in Fall 2020, campus wasn't quite its effervescent self. Zoom was still the primary mode of education for most, and while we celebrated its many innovations as a learning platform, something was missing.
The return to a full student and faculty population in Fall 2021 has not been as easy as we all might've hoped, as the Delta variant has made masking essential, and gatherings need to be carefully navigated. But the hard work of our students, faculty, administrators, and staff—who got vaccinated en masse and have been diligently following safety guidelines—has brought new life back into classrooms across campus.
NYU News spoke with a sampling of students who wanted to share the personal reasons why they're grateful to be learning the good old-fashioned way again. Their comments appear below.
"The best part of being back in the classroom is getting to play music together again! My favorite class is Brass and Piano Rep, instructed by Wayne DuMaine. In the style of a masterclass, all of the students in the Brass Studies department perform a musical piece in front of their peers, which is followed by some feedback from everyone in the room. I find this class to be an invaluable source of growth as a performer, because every single week I am able to exercise my playing in a situation that's similar to future auditions or concerts. Unlike other music programs I've attended, all of my classmates make the environment one of musical excellence, yet also of enthusiastic support for one another.”
—Music Performance student Rachel Tubridy (Steinhardt ’25)
I'm very much old school in the sense that I love to be in the classroom. I think there's such an experience to having the interpersonal connection with your classmates and the professor that you couldn't really replicate to a T with Zoom. It's the small interactions that I really miss[ed] the most. The fist bumps or the waves, like those are the experiences that kind of kept me going. They're kind of like little sips of coffee, you know? Kind of kept the social locomotive going."
—Finance and Sustainable Business student Yousef El Emary (Stern '22)
"The best thing about being back in the classroom is being able to collaborate with my friends on projects, assignments, and studying. Last year was a lot of isolation, occasionally having a study group Zoom, so it feels wonderful to be back with people.
"One professor that is inspiring me this semester is Said Nourbakhsh, my Mechanics of Materials professor, who refers to us all as "rising stars" on the front page of NYU Brightspace and always engages with us in class, seeing what we know and what we don't know. Since most of our labs were virtual last year, he has been very understanding and has gone to lengths to help us visualize what we missed."
—Mechanical Engineering student Nicky Goldstein (Tandon '23)
I am ecstatic to be back in the classroom this semester. I’ve enjoyed engaging with students and professors in ways not possible virtually. There has been a greater connection among students, and the campus feels more fluid. Discussions between students can last longer than the designated class time, something I felt was missing last year."
—Media, Culture, and Communication student Warrington Webb (Steinhardt ’22)
I feel like in the arts sometimes it’s difficult to facilitate the same types of group projects one would normally participate in when online. That’s why I was really excited to be able to be back in person as you can’t quite replicate a film shoot on Zoom—regardless how hard you try."
—Film & TV student Danielle Fuller (Tisch '22)
In Methods of Media Studies, we are able to all collectively look at images and discuss ideas and present our thoughts without having to do so through a screen and a microphone, and [professor] Hyo Jung Kim facilitates that by encouraging us to speak, engage, and think critically."
—Media, Culture, and Communication student Luca Richman (Steinhardt ’24)
"Film is such a collaborative medium, and being able to be in-person with my peers again—working ideas out together in real time, seeing people's raw reactions to thoughts and proposals—has been fantastic. I'm really grateful that NYU is back in person. It's been super motivating to be surrounded by so many creative people again."
—Film and TV student Louisa Tantillo (Tisch '25)
“Meeting my professors who I have had over the past year and a half on Zoom and being able to finally connect with them, feel their energy, and who they are as a person, has been really cool and fulfilling. I didn’t realize how much I missed being in person and being able to just absorb everything that somebody has to give, that somebody has to teach, and the value of just being able to sit in a lecture hall and have this person talk to you. It’s touching to see how much professors are truly caring and trying to make it as interactive as they can now that we are back in person.”
—Applied Psychology student Alina Malloy, (Steinhardt '22)
It feels different. I feel motivated again, and I've fallen back in love with cinema. It's kind of extended to everything in my life, and I feel like I'm really living again."
—Cinema Studies student Nathan Chizen (Tisch '22)