One of the greatest challenges of the pandemic has definitely been remote learning. Whether you’re in kindergarten or college, every student out there has had to come to terms with remote learning. Because of this, my first year at college has looked completely different from a typical freshman year. Here’s my experience as a fully remote college freshman during the coronavirus pandemic and the things I’ve learned along the way.
My classes have been completely remote this year. I have not met a single one of my professors in person, but I have not let that stop me from building great relationships with them. Virtual participation is definitely difficult and awkward, but I have found in-class participation to be the best way of letting my professors get to know me. Whether I’m solving a calculus problem or putting in my two cents on an English discussion, my active participation lets my professors know that I want to make the most out of my already-limited virtual education. Additionally, going to my professors’ office hours has been a great way to tell my professors about myself outside of a classroom setting. Going to office hours shows professors that you care about their class and what they have to say, so setting aside an hour to just talk to your professor definitely pays off.
It’s pretty obvious that everyone’s social life has taken a hit from the pandemic. With no more get-togethers, parties, or big events, it’s hard to make new friends - especially as a freshman in college. While I definitely haven’t made as many friends as other students on campus, I have been able to build friendships with a handful of people. I mainly accomplished this by joining different clubs on campus. For example, I applied to be an executive board member for the Asian Students Association, and through that, I’ve made several friends that I’m excited to meet in person one day! Putting yourself out there and getting involved is a great way to meet friends with similar interests. I’m excited to have friendly faces on campus when I finally do move in one day!
At the beginning of the pandemic, it was definitely easy to lay in bed all day and eat a ton of snacks while binge-watching a favorite show. However, since classes have started, I’ve made it my mission to exercise more and eat healthier. My devotion to this goal has definitely kept me busy with morning and evening workouts, recipe researching, healthy-food grocery shopping, and meal prepping. I’ve seen a huge improvement in my appearance, energy, mood, and overall happiness from these steps that I’ve taken to prioritize my health. Setting this personal goal for myself helped me have something to look forward to doing everyday (which is hard when you’re sitting on your computer taking classes most of the time) and helped me use my time at home as a period of self-improvement.
Being a fully remote freshman has definitely caused a lot of FOMO (fear of missing out). There have been Friday nights where I can’t help but feel jealous of all the fun things I see happening on campus while I just lay in bed watching Netflix by myself. The best way I have managed to combat this loneliness and boredom is to pick up new hobbies. For example, I’ve started journaling as a way to express my feelings. Most of my hometown friends have moved into their college dorms, so I don’t have many friends that are in the same boat as me. Journaling has given me an outlet to talk about my feelings - whether they be happy, sad, or frustrated. Journaling has definitely become my go-to activity whenever I’m feeling particularly anxious or stressed, and it’s a hobby that I hope to keep up even after the pandemic is over! Also, I’ve begun reading a lot more (I’ve already read 17 books!) as a way to escape reality. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in a good book for hours and almost forget that COVID exists. Because I love getting caught up in a book’s plot and characters, reading has definitely been my favorite way to cope with COVID-caused boredom, loneliness, and sadness.
Overall, being a fully remote college freshman has definitely been a challenge, but a learning experience at the same time. I’ve learned how to build relationships with people over Zoom. I’ve also pushed myself to become more involved with virtual clubs on campus. Lastly, I’ve been able to use the extra time I have on my hands to prioritize and better my physical and mental health. I’ve learned a lot about myself during my time at home this semester, and I’ve learned to embrace the circumstances that COVID has put me in so that I can keep making the most out of my situation. The pandemic has definitely been a challenge for all of us, but we shouldn’t let it stop us from continuing to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be.