Going back to school this semester has definitely looked different from any other semester of my college journey so far. At Coastal Carolina University, the administration decided to create a method of instruction in which students could decide whether to attend classes in person or livestream. However, for the first two weeks, all students are live streaming and are encouraged to stay home as much as possible and social distance in person while wearing a mask.
So far, we have only completed a couple of weeks of classes through live streaming and I am already exhausted. Although I took summer classes online, for some reason, I find the idea of having to be in front of a screen a certain number of hours per day at specific times to be more frustrating. Staring at a screen all day has been giving me headaches and fatigue.
I am a big in-person learner and I am the student who is always in her professor’s office for office hours. I love to build a community around my education and connect with my instructors. I also really enjoy getting to know my classmates and forming a bond with them. As an English major, many of my courses are discussion based or classes where we often read one another’s work. Due to this, we tend to get close to one another and eventually feel as though we all hold a type of unspoken friendship and understanding of our peers. The online semester makes this a little different and awkward, however.
It is odd for me to have my work read by the strangers now present in my class. Many other students leave their cameras off in the Zoom classroom so I feel very disconnected from them. Writing vulnerable pieces in creative writing courses definitely feels different when you feel estranged from the people reading them. It is also less comfortable for everyone to speak their minds during classroom instruction due to this feeling of not ‘really’ knowing one another.
Although I originally opted for in person classes once the decision became mine on September 8, I have recently changed my mind and switched to live streaming all classes. This is because of the lack of progress the United States and South Carolina specifically has made to reduce the impacts of Coronavirus. I do not feel like anyone is really taking it seriously, in the whole country or in our local community. In addition, with so few students choosing the in person option and the necessary precautions, I believe that this in person learning method would feel similarly distant.
As a senior, I must admit that this does not feel real or ‘fair’ to me. I am missing out on such a special moment in my final year of undergraduate school. Being the President of our Her Campus chapter, taking upper level courses, and doing research just does not feel the same as it would in person. This blow comes after my Spring semester of studying abroad, when I was called back home.
Although I am frustrated and feel a bit hopeless, I also understand that this is what is necessary for a better future for everyone and that we need to all do our parts to combat this virus in hopes that next semester will be better. To cope with the change and exhaustion, I am trying to re-evaluate my sleep and wake schedule to go to sleep and wake up at similar times daily. I have also purchased blue light glasses to reduce headaches from staring at my laptop all day. As another method of improving my situation, I plan on printing out more of my readings to avoid this long stretch of time in front of a screen. My roommates and I have also tried to spend at least one day a week where we invest time into quality time with one another and find safe ways to relax and destress. This is a challenging time for everyone but we must do what we can to make it through and look forward to a better tomorrow.
I encourage you to take care of yourself similarly: go outside, spend time with a small group of friends when possible, connect with yourself through meditation and journaling, read paper books, get a pair of blue light glasses, wear a mask, and be patient with yourself. It’s okay to struggle right now. You’re living through a pandemic and that in itself is pretty amazing.
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
National Helpline: 1-800-487-4889