Emma Boersma (third from left), '20, poses with her friends on top of a roof. (Photo courtesy of Boersma)

FRESHMAN FOCUS: Emma Boersma, ’20, attends in-person school at Tufts University; takes Korean at Brandeis University

Emma Boersma, ’20, attends Tufts University. She is majoring in computer science. 

Q: Why did you choose your major?

A: I completely made the decision in like five seconds. Very little thought went into it. A major declaration deadline was coming up and I said, “YOLO,” and chose my major.

I originally applied to Tufts as a computer science major in the School of Arts and Sciences, but when you enter the school, you are undecided. I ended up transferring to the School of Engineering because I realized I was going to take 90% STEM classes anyway and had to declare my major by the second semester of first year. 

Q: What classes are you taking?

A: In order of most to least enjoyable, Computer Science 11, Korean, Engineering Science 2 and Economics With Environmental Applications. I also had a history class, Intro to Religions of China, that I decided to drop. I really liked it but all the essay writing wasn’t appealing to me.

I’m taking my Korean class at Brandeis University because Tufts doesn’t offer it. Since Tufts is part of a consortium with Brandeis and other universities, I was able to cross register at Brandeis. 

Q: Why did you decide to start learning Korean?

A: I was teaching myself Korean over the summer and decided I wanted a real teacher. I also want to learn Korean so that I can talk to my grandparents. 

Q: What is your biggest class? Smallest class?

A: My Computer Science 11 class is the biggest. My section has a little more than 121 students in it. My smallest class is either economics or Korean; they both have around 20 people in it.

Q: What is your CS 11 class like? 

A: It’s just a lecture class, and once a week we have lab, which is run by the teacher’s assistant. Both these parts are firmly boring and if it weren’t for the homeworks and labs, I would not enjoy this class. I haven’t really learned anything because I took AP Computer Science in high school. But, I hope that changes. 

Q: What class are you taking in person?

A: I’m taking Engineering Science 2 in person — occasionally. It’s hybrid. There’s a limited capacity in the classroom so sometimes I don’t go. 

Boersma (right) poses with a few of her housemates during a sunset. (Photo courtesy of Boersma)

Q: What is your favorite spot on campus?

A: My favorite spot is the SEC, which stands for the Science and Engineering Center. It’s my favorite because you don’t have to reserve a seat. You can just sit down anywhere. And on the lowest floor, there is a café that sells coffee, salad, sandwiches and smoothies, and it’s just very pretty — I spend probably eight hours a day at the SEC.

Q: What do you mean by reserving seats?

A: Well if we want to sit in a building somewhere on campus, we have to reserve those seats ahead of time. For example, if I want to sit at a table in the library, I have to reserve a three-hour time slot. The tables will have a QR code that you have to scan and use to sign in to use the table. It’s really annoying, but it is all a part of the COVID-19 precautions.

Q: What other precautions is Tufts taking to keep COVID-19 infections at a minimum? 

A: We get tested twice a week. And if you get tested positive, you have to tell everyone you’ve been in contact with, and everyone has to quarantine. Also there are reduced capacities in all the buildings, and they all close early around 10 p.m. That is really frustrating, especially if you want to study outside of your dorm.  For food, we have to order all our food through an app, and all the dining halls close on weekends. Finally, there are no sports whatsoever and clubs aren’t allowed to meet in person. 

Q: What is your housing situation like?

A: My dorm is literally the worst dorm building on campus. One time, we lost water, so all the toilets were not flushing and it smelled like poop all day. Then a few weeks later, we lost power and it was the middle of the night and people were still studying. Because of the power loss, an annoying alarm turned on and would not turn off. So, we just had an alarm blaring at 1 a.m. and no power. 

The bathrooms are co-ed, and they’re always smelly and dirty. The showers are also clogged a lot of the time. My room is right next to the bathroom as well, so I can hear all the bathroom activity. 

Q: How are your remote classes?

A: The STEM classes are the best virtually because they’re mostly lectures anyway. The PowerPoints are on the screen so it’s easy to see. However, the discussion based classes are annoying to do because conversations don’t flow as naturally. Korean class is the worst online.

Boersma snacks on a bell pepper while attending her computer science class. (Photo courtesy of Boersma)

Q: How is the food?

A: I’ve been having some issues with the dining hall food lately — it makes my stomach hurt. It’s not for me. 

Q: How was your transition from Country Day to college?

A: It was smooth, but I think that was because of COVID-19. 

The social life was definitely a big change for me. The fact that there are so many people here was shocking. 

Q: Do you have any advice for the class of 2021?

A: College is what you make of it. Because of COVID-19, I’m sure it’s hard to make decisions on where you want to go and what you want to do. Just remember, you can get a good education and degree from any institution, so what’s really going to make or break your college experience is the people you meet. And you’re only going to be able to meet those people if you put yourself out there and have a good attitude about it, even if you are in a bad situation like we are in now. 

Five Star or Subpar?
Quality of classes
Student-teacher interaction
School spirit

— By Arijit Trivedi

Print Friendly, PDF & Email