F&M Stories

Alone Together: Campus Experiences in the Pandemic

The pandemic that began in 2020 changed the world, college campuses and how students respond and adapt to the challenges that lockdowns, Zoom classes and hybrid classes presented. In this ongoing series, Franklin & Marshall students discuss their experiences over the last 19 months.

Name: Songhang (Edler) Li

Class Year: 2024

Major (or intended major): Undecided

What town do you call home?: Guangdong, China

Activities at F&M: College Chorus, Photo Club

Tell us about your last year at F&M:

With pandemic and visa restrictions, I could not travel to campus and enrolled in the F&M Shanghai Program last year. Even though the curriculum was offered remotely, I still had a wide range of on-site activities held by IFSA (Institute for Study Abroad) faculty and the student council of the Shanghai Program. We had community-building trips, city exploring, art walks, Common Hour, volunteering, and reunions on weekends during last year.

What did you find challenging?

Module system and taking classes with 12 hours time difference. Most of my classes were in the early morning and late at night, which means I had to go to bed at midnight but get up early on the second day. The module system curriculum moved on quickly, so I rarely had the chance to dive deeper into the realm I was interested in.

What did you find rewarding?

Studying remotely is truly a loss of college experience, but the extracurricular activities in F&M's Shanghai Program allowed me to get to know more students from China ahead of arriving at campus. I met friendly members there and had a happy time with them.

What was it like stepping on campus for the first time when you arrived this fall?

When I arrived at the campus, it was already late in the evening. However, I was still excited to take pictures around the campus. I imagined what it would be like to reunite on campus and meet with our professors in person, although most of my classmates were not here yet.

Have you found a place on campus that is meaningful to you?

Buchanan Park behind Brooks College House. I often go for a walk and enjoy seeing the sunset there.

What are you looking forward to this year?

Getting to know more students, establishing connections with the Lancaster community, and having more communication with our professors and faculty.

"I was excited to take pictures around the campus. I imagined what it would be like to reunite on campus and meet with our professors in person."

– Songhang Li


Related Articles

May 10, 2024

International Seniors Reflect on F&M Journeys

F&M will graduate 518 seniors at Saturday’s Commencement ceremony; 85 (over 16%) of those students are international. See how they navigated starting college overseas during the pandemic.

May 3, 2024

Senior Spotlight: Olha Shapovalenko

A double major in mathematics and studio art, international senior Olha Shapovalenko made the most of her F&M experience. From designing theater costumes to discovering new artistic mediums, the College “enriched my creative vocabulary,” she said.

January 10, 2024

‘Why I Chose F&M’: Students and Young Alumni Look Back

Current students and recent graduates reflect on what led them to choose F&M for their undergraduate experience.