As the semester comes to a close and classes end, I can’t help but reflect on this past academic year and everything that came along with it. Never did I think I’d spend my freshman year of college at home, fully remote, learning from a program, Zoom. Unexpected things happen all the time, and we just have to do our best to adjust and make the most of any situation. I learned a lot while learning virtually from home, and those lessons will carry on even when I go back to campus in the fall. Here are four things I learned while being a remote college learner for two semesters.
- Technology Can Bring You Together Always
While I wasn’t in the classroom or at in-person events, I still felt as if I was there and could contribute just as if I was. Especially during the start of the fall semester, when COVID-19 cases were high, it felt nice to have people to talk to and something to do given how bleak the summer had been. It’s crazy how we now can receive live coverage of classrooms, lectures, and club meetings through the advancement of technology. I also tried to join many clubs at the beginning of the academic year in order to get involved and to do things I was passionate about. I went to a virtual activity fair first and then joined four clubs due to it. I joined Circle K, a service club that looks for opportunities to give back; the American Cancer Society on campus, which helps provide money for research and information on cancer awareness; along with my school’s newspaper and French club. It was at these meetings that I actually was able to communicate with other students at my college and get to know them better while working on tasks I found important. I did not expect to feel so a part of something while studying remotely, yet I did thanks to technology and my college’s thorough work in holding events for remote students. Thanks to technology, we can do so many things, and I’m grateful to have had it during a time when social interaction was limited.
- Enjoy the Little Things
Though it may seem cliché, it was really important to enjoy the little things each day. Given the pandemic and repetitiveness, it often felt somewhat difficult to find the motivation to complete assignments and stay on the computer for so long. However, I would do little things to make me feel better and happier. For example, each morning I had class at around 8:00 am even though I am admittedly not a morning person. However, I would play my favorite new songs in order to wake up and start my day off right. I also would go outside with my dog in between classes in our backyard and just take in the sights of nature. Enjoying the little things gives you a chance to breathe and makes you feel grounded.
- Routines Matter
While it was challenging to do at first, I quickly learned a routine was a must with remote learning. Having stayed up pretty late throughout quarantine, I found it challenging to be my best, focused self when learning on Zoom without proper sleep. It was not until I developed a routine that I could fully concentrate on the material at hand. For example, I made sure to eat a healthy breakfast at a similar time each day in between classes. I also tried to do my schoolwork in the evening when things were quiet, and I could concentrate best. I think I’ve always been a night owl, but I am not as extreme with the times I stay up now. I learned going to sleep at 4:00 am and waking up at 8:00 very much did not mix. Routines keep you on track and become habits over time.
- Breaks are Essential
I consider this to be the most important on the list. Breaks are essential no matter what you do, but I found them to be more needed and beneficial while studying remotely. It’s very draining to be on the computer and online for long periods of time. Then, when you aren’t in class, you’re doing assignments and homework online to submit. It’s a repetitive process that leaves you feeling tired and even mentally exhausted if breaks are not taken. Whether it’s watching a feel-good TV show/movie, going outside for a walk, or reading a new book, taking time off for yourself remains one of the utmost important things. Without breaks, you feel fatigued and burnt out, which means you’re unproductive and unhealthy. If you were to follow any advice from this list, this is the point to follow. Take time for yourself and step away from everything for a little. When you come back, you’ll feel much more relaxed and in a better state of mind.
Spending my first year of college at home and studying virtually was such a crazy and unique experience. I never thought I’d be good at learning online, let alone doing it in the first place. However, we all adapt to situations and learn how to navigate them with time. With my first college year ending, I can say now I’m actually going to miss my online classes along with all of the memories, great professors, and connections formed along the way. However, I do look forward to finally going to campus in the fall and being in an actual classroom. I plan on taking all of the lessons I learned from studying remotely and apply them to my future life. I hope you too learned something useful you can apply in the future.