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In the aftermath of the March 2020 lockdown, students all over the world were forced to completely change the way they learned, and where that learning would occur. As we were trapped in our homes and full of uncertainty, we all dreamt of being back on campus instead of “Zoom University”, as so many of us lovingly called it. We so desperately wanted things to go back to “normal”. Now that we have some of that old normalcy back, many students are having a hard time readjusting to the new “normal” we are facing everyday. Between masks and vaccination requirements, things still feel grim and disconnected. Personally, I’ve come to realize that I’m having a hard time being surrounded by people, especially after a year and a half of being told to keep my distance. I used to be a very extroverted person who thrived on social interaction, and I’ve come to realize that since the world turned upside down, it now exhausts me. I’ve also come to realize that things I never would have thought twice about in February of 2020 impact my mood, mental/emotional state, and the way I interact with other people. I am always thinking about how to keep my family and the people around me safe, but also to remember to cherish the fact that I am allowed to leave my home. I thought that the things I feel everyday and the struggle to be able to retain information meant that there was something wrong with me; that the pandemic had broken me as a student. I thought that it had broken me as a person. I realized that the more I spoke about the way I feel to friends, and even some mentors around me, that many others felt the same. With some professors returning to old habits, and giving relentless amounts of work, I have only a few that are acknowledging the fact that we, as fellow humans, are genuinely struggling. Students are trying to readjust their learning styles yet again, while also trying to heal from the trauma of the past year and a half. Another obstacle that on some level affects everyone is the political climate around us. No matter what you believe, there is someone who has an opinion on your beliefs and it’s exhausting to the soul. There is so much hate in the world right now, it’s scary. It also makes it feel like there is so much going on in that the classes you’re taking don’t matter, that nothing will ever change. Once I actually started putting the puzzle pieces together to explain the way I felt, it made sense as to why the adjustment period was so hard for me, and continues to be everyday. Personally, I’ve come to find that speaking about how I feel with friends is beneficial to not feel alone, but also speaking to trusted faculty on campus is beneficial. If you feel alone or like what you’re doing is useless, talk to someone you trust. I tend to talk to a therapist or an advisor on campus. I know that they want what is best for me and are there to offer reassurance for the uncertainty I feel, but also to relieve the pressure of doing well in classes. Find something outside of classes that brings you joy and offers you some peace of mind. You have enough to worry about already. Find ways to express the way you feel, whether that’s through journaling or talking to someone. I know things are hard, but just remember, you aren’t alone. When we’ve gone through so much isolation in the past year and a half, it’s so hard to break the habit of feeling unbearably alone. Please acknowledge that we went through a life changing event together, and you deserve recognition for making it this far. Take care of yourself out there.

My name is Emilee and I'm a junior Environmental Science major. I love learning about nature and geology.
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