How to Cope with Remote Learning, Knowing All Your Friends Are Returning to Campus

Scrolling through my feed, I can’t help feeling envious of all the students currently moving back to school. Every day I am bombarded with photos of smiling teens decorating their new dorm rooms/apartments and expressing relief over an end to their “5-month Spring break”—seriously that is how some people view this pandemic! 

For those of us whose Universities made the tough decision to go completely online for the Fall 2020 semester, these casual posts can seem like a slap to the face. I personally went through different stages of grief and acceptance when my school announced their plans in July. But even though I know that I am much safer taking classes at home, part of me still wishes I were moving back to Boston for my junior year. 

While most of my college friends are in the same boat, I was shocked to learn that all my high school friends would be returning to their campuses for the fall semester. I may casually joke about “holding down the fort” while everyone is gone, but I can’t help but feel like I am missing out on what is supposed to be one of the best years of my life.

Anyway, enough of my sadness! For those of you also struggling with online learning, here are some methods that I have been using to cope with the loneliness of being stuck at home alone.

 

1. Taking a Break from Social Media 

Like everyone, it seems that my social media intake has gone up astronomically during the pandemic. While it can be a great source of activism, information and mindless entertainment, the recent influx of college centered media has been detrimental to my own mental health. As I mentioned earlier, too many people seem to not be taking school reopening and social distancing seriously. This naturally makes me incredibly angry and I have found that a good social media detox can always improve my mood. I highly recommend turning off your notifications and signing off for the first couple of weeks of school.

 

2. Staying Connected Virtually 

One good thing to come out of this pandemic is the new and creative ways people are staying connected. Virtual Game Nights, Movie Nights, Book Clubs, Presentation Nights and Cocktail Hours are the new norm! It seems like everyone is jumping on the Zoom bandwagon. Even though we can’t see our friends physically, I personally feel more connected than ever before. The high school friends I was used to only seeing during school breaks are now a regular part of my weekly Zoom sessions—something I hope will continue long after this pandemic is over. 

 

3. Thinking About All the Things You CAN Do at Home 

So, let’s be real, there are a couple of things that I do not miss about school. The cafeteria food, communal bathrooms, and quiet hours—I may long to return to campus, but these are a few things I can do without. At home I can cook fresh food in an actual kitchen and joyfully light every scented candle I own. It is nice to take a moment and appreciate all the things you CAN do at home, but I have also found myself reflecting on what a privilege it is to have a safe home. 

I can’t stress enough, how it is a privilege to view Covid-19 as an inconvenience. I personally have not had to deal with the pressures of being an essential worker, losing my livelihood, or the trauma currently being experienced by people of color in the United States. Losing out on your college experience sucks but is nothing compared to what a lot of other people are currently going through. I often find myself thinking about my college peers, who don’t have safe living situations or access to the resources they would have received on campus. Being able to simply wait out a pandemic is something to be thankful for!

 

4. Being There for Friends 

College has not been business as usual for ANYONE. The friends who I am so envious of have had to deal with their own college struggles including, the fear of getting sick, constant testing, and the inability to leave campus—they sometimes question whether it was worth going back. One of my friends even described his experience as a “living hell'' after an off-campus party caused the entire campus to go into lockdown. He is confined to his dorm room—for who knows how long—while seriously ill students are flooding the health center. Staying at home may stink but it is safe! It is the people who have returned to school, who often need a listening ear and the most support.