My Experience as an Online Learner

 

For many reasons, I have decided to be an online learner this semester and live at home. It was a difficult decision because I loved living on campus last year and I was looking forward to coming back in the fall after we left so suddenly in the spring. A little background about me… I am a sophomore at Hamline studying psychology, sociology and spanish who also happens to have a preexisting condition that makes me more susceptible to severe Covid-19. I thought long and hard over the summer about the decision to move back in or to just continue with distance learning. In the end I ultimately decided that it would be a safer, cheaper choice to live at home. 

With this decision, there comes some good and some not so good. Let’s focus on the good first. The obvious good thing is that I don’t have to worry about being in public spaces with a lot of other people. Since I am at home, I rarely leave the house, and if I do it is for a walk around my neighborhood or a socially distanced- masked trip to the store to get something that I need (food, medicine, other essentials…). This cuts down on the amount of time I need to be out of the house and makes me feel safer. I am fortunate to not need a job during this time, but I recognize that this is not the case for many. I hope by limiting my time outside of the house, I make it a little easier for folks who currently work outside of their homes. The other good thing is that most of my classes meet online, and the ones that do not have professors that have been absolutely amazing in terms of flexibility and grace. Having professors that are willing to help you and let you decide what is best for you has been unbelievably helpful, especially now. There are also benefits to staying home such as living with my family and setting my schedule. I know that living with your family is not a benefit for everybody, but for me it has been helpful since this time is particularly stressful. The other nice thing about living at home is that I get to make my schedule. With the exception of specific class times, I basically get the whole day to work on my assignments. I usually get up early, eat breakfast and take my walk. I’ve found that walking helps with the stress and also allows me a safe way to leave my house. After that, I just work on my assignments all day and get things done which is good, especially for a person who likes crossing things off on her to do list. 

Although there are a lot of good things about working from home, there are some downsides too. The biggest one is isolation. Although I am living with my family, I hardly talk to or see anyone else. Probably the hardest thing about this is having the realization every so often that besides online classes, I haven’t really talked to anyone for an extended period of time for almost seven months. It is also sad to think about how that probably won’t be changing much, at least for the near future. Although I know this isn’t true, seeing pictures and hearing about people at school makes me feel as though I’m the only one who chose to be at home, and everyone's moving on with their lives without me. I suppose that was a negative thing with social media before 2020 too, but it now feels really real. The other downside is just general fear, fear of falling behind in classes, fear of not getting the most out of your classes, fear of missing out, fear of either you or a loved one getting sick or other things. It’s been helpful to be able to just focus on work and dive in, but it gets hard for everyone sometimes. 

With all this in mind, I don’t think I made a bad decision. We will see how this progresses and base decisions off what life is like in the moment. If you or someone you know is trying to decide what to do, make a list. It may sound silly, but writing out all the positives and negatives will hopefully add clarity to what you should do. In the meantime, everyone stay safe, healthy and happy and please, please, please wear your mask. It’s the least you could do. Thanks!