When Subbaswamy sent out that dreadful email in July stating that most classes for fall semester will be online AND another dreadful email in August announcing that campus facilities will be closed to virtual students, I was, to say the least, upset. I couldn’t imagine heading into my senior year without strolls past unfinished construction sites, searches for a place to sit in Du Bois library, long lines at Blue wall during lunch rush, and the many other special UMass campus experiences that I took for granted these past 3 years. Adjusting to virtual classes and spending most of my time in my Amherst house has been hard, but just in these past few weeks I’ve not only learned a lot about myself (and my need for improving my time management skills), but managed to find a few activities that bring a slight sense of normalcy to my days.
The first thing I panicked about when I heard that UMass campus facilities would be unavailable to students this fall semester was the Rec Center. I’m no workout junkie, but I had spent a significant amount of my time during quarantine and this past summer trying to stay in shape, and the thought of having no access to a space for exercising was terrifying. Luckily, Planet Fitness in Hadley is a closeby and affordable option for college students. I try to go almost everyday, either in the morning or after my classes (but I avoid the after-5pm rush - no one likes working out in a crowded gym).
As lame as it sounds, my occasional trips to Trader Joe’s (if I’m lucky enough to avoid the massive line to get in), Big Y and Target are probably what bring me the most joy during my mundane weekdays. With all my free time at home, I have way more flexibility in planning and cooking my meals than I would if I had to spend all day on campus. Now, I can go food shopping almost any time I want and start cooking dinner at 4pm if I really feel the need. Also, there’s nothing like a leisurely stroll through Target or TJ Maxx to get a little bit of exercise and find some amazing deals.
Hanging out with Friends (COVID-friendly edition)
Even though taking all online classes can leave me feeling isolated at times, I am lucky enough to live with 4 of my friends this semester. In order to fill our free time and implement some sense of routine in our week, we’ve already established a few house traditions. First off, we decided to start a new show together, so every night at 9pm you can find us on our living room couch watching Desperate Housewives (think Pretty Little Liars, but for housewives and set in the early 2000’s) until we get too tired. We also recently discovered that amazon student prime members are eligible for a $6 large cheese pizza at Whole Foods on fridays, so for now every friday we’ll be picnicking in Amherst common with, you guessed it, a large cheese pizza (or 2) from Whole Foods. I’ve also been seeing friends I don’t live with, only after making sure we’ve all tested negative for COVID-19 and that we’re meeting in a safe and socially distant environment.
Obviously the most important part of my daily routine is attending zoom lectures and finishing assignments for my online classes. I try to stick to the same routine every day, but balancing different schedules (synchronous vs asynchronous classes) is challenging. Some days I'm sitting at my desk in zoom lectures from 10am to 4pm, other days I have absolutely nowhere to be. Not technically having a class scheduled on Mondays or Wednesdays definitely gives me lots of free time to catch up on work, but sometimes too much free time is less of a blessing and more of a curse. I find it way easier to stay focused and on-task when I have a concrete schedule planned ahead, so I would prefer having designated time blocked off for my classes.
So far, this fall semester has been anything but normal, so if you're feeling down or bummed about school, just remember, you're not alone! Check out other Her Campus articles for ways to make the most out of online classes.