Illustration by Dhiyaa Al Jorf.

Students Face the Reality that In-Person Classes Also Suck

Many NYUAD students have realized that the return to in-person isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. We track several students as they adjust to the reality of actually having to give a class their undivided attention for 75 minutes again.

Oct 11, 2021

Editor's Note – This article is a contribution to The Gazelle's weekly satire column.
Molti Taska, Class of 2024, found himself rather unaccustomed to sitting through an entire lecture without the occasional self-care break. His Colloquium professor was caught incredibly off-guard when he pulled an electric kettle from his enlarged backpack and attempted to make tea, only to find out that, like so many other things at this university, the outlets were only there to maintain the appearance of functionality.
Distraught and confused, Taska attempted to turn his camera off. Realizing that real life didn’t have this option, he pulled his Class of 2024 hoodie over his face and sulked in silence for a few minutes. But in his ten-person lecture, this was sadly far more noticeable to Professor Oblie Vius, who had thought that none of his students’ cameras were ever on due to the incredibly poor Wi-Fi connection on campus. The real reasons for his students’ disengagement became even more apparent as another student sat in the corner bobbing to whatever was playing on his AirPods while stirring a bowl of cereal.
For Taska, along with the majority of the NYU Abu Dhabi student body, in-person coursework has finally returned. After three semesters spent merging with their computer screens, most students were excited to return to some semblance of normalcy as they moved between sterile buildings named after numbers. But after only a week of this “new normal,” many others have finally realized that the unnecessarily drawn-out virtual hellscape was not the cause of every single one of their problems.
Bioengineering student Inse Somnia, Class of 2024, had been eagerly counting down the days to his first ever physical class: a 9 a.m. Sunday FoS recitation. “It’s like there’s finally going to be a division between my personal space and my academic space. When I join my class from bed because I can’t get up after spending the night binge watching Black Mirror, of course I’m going to spend at least half of it asleep,” he remarked.
In preparation for the two-minute walk from his dorm, Somnia set his alarm for 8:45 a.m. instead of 8:55 a.m. However, he had neglected to realize that going to class actually involved getting out of bed, and he still managed to press the snooze button. When he woke up again, he turned on his phone and saw the time: 9:01 a.m. After somehow managing to get lost, he arrived at the lecture room fifteen minutes late. He anticipated a callout from his professor, but it turned out that he didn’t even know his name because he had never once unmuted his microphone to say anything. Somnia realized how much he missed the anonymity that came with not actually showing his face.
The Saadiyat campus community is a very intimate and close-knit one, and Kave Düeller, Class of 2023, had forgotten about that until this week. After ending up in an innumerable number of embarrassing situations with an innumerable number of people his first year, he retreated to the comfort of his dorm. For the past two semesters he had been going to D2 at off times to stock up on Grab-n-Go, giving his suitemate his card for Bluemart purchases in Campus Dirhams and paying for his own taxi just to avoid the shuttles every time he left campus.
But now, his first week back to in-person classes has taught him that some things just cannot be avoided. “I’ve wanted to crawl into a hole on sight three times already today, and I only take the shortest necessary route to class,” he bemoaned. He is currently attempting to find a way to only take online classes for the remainder of his university tenure. But it seems like the more he tries to avoid what befalls him, the more it comes his way — perhaps, like his therapist advised, he should confront the consequences of his own decisions for once.
Nobody knows what will be coming our way in the future nor what moments we took for granted in February 2020 that will soon inspire cheers and celebration throughout the Highline. But it is almost a guarantee that normalcy will not feel so normal when it returns in any context, and the habits and mindsets that we developed during the pandemic will be of varying degrees of usefulness. “Everything sucks, and it’s still gonna suck. But maybe I’ll actually miss it dearly when I leave,” Düeller remarked.
Ethan Fulton is Columns Editor and Satire Columnist. Email him at
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