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ABBI Pattison said she is relieved to return to the University of Newcastle for her speech pathology degree, after the pandemic upended her vision of enjoying campus life in her first year.
"It's nice to be with a community of people who are all interested in the same thing and interacting with others, whereas last year we were at home staring at a computer screen," Ms Pattison, 25, said.
"It was very hard to be as enthusiastic about what you're learning when you're on your own and don't have anyone to communicate with."
All of her classes this semester will be delivered face to face.
She and her friends, Izzy Neskovski and Ash Kiem, spent the first semester of their speech pathology degree learning online and the second semester taking half of their classes online.
"I did not realise how much I appreciate going to class and missed sitting around a table with people until it was not there anymore," she said.
Ms Pattison said she felt "alive" on Monday at the start of semester, when students at Callaghan campus enjoyed a free barbecue and live music.
"The uni is so big and there are so many cool different spots, little coffee shops, it's a very community based environment with things happening all the time."
She said it was reassuring to know the university had systems in place and students would know what to do if they had to return to online learning.
But she hopes, with the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine, those days are just a memory.
"I don't want to sit in my kitchen and have to do uni again, I'd much rather be in the classroom."
Ms Pattison has alternated between travelling internationally and working since leaving school and said she'd like to visit Western Australia in semester break this year.
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