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Transitioning Back to IRL Classes: A Non-Exhaustive Recap

Zoom beat me up. After a semester and a half of exclusively Zoom-based education, I threw in my hat, said no more, and vowed to live a life free of Zoom, at least for daily education and coursework. So, when the opportunity came to me to study abroad in the Spring of 2021, I could not say yes fast enough. Studying abroad meant no more Zoom, no more time zone challenges, and best of all, no more Zoom-induced anxiety. 

Even though we were thrown into the world of Zoom in March of 2021 with no other options, forcing us to make do with the situation, I always imagined that the transition to having classes in-person again would be an easy one. However, once I had my first class in person, I realized that I no longer knew how to function in such a space. 

Eye contact is hard to make

I’ve always struggled a fair bit with making eye contact, so in an odd way, Zoom was my saving grace when it came to this trait. However, going back to in-person classes made me intensely cognizant of the fact that I was making no eye contact. At what point is it too much eye contact, do people think that I’m not paying attention, I began to wonder? I had somewhat figured out these societal nuances before, but re-learning them has proven to be no simple task.

Words and thoughts can be lost in masks

Yes, this is true in the obvious sense that masks are an additional barrier to clear hearing. However, in a classroom setting, this goes even further. In the past when a Professor would be able to see that you were clearly pondering a thought or contemplating speaking, they would typically give more time or ask you to speak, but a lot of these facial expressions are hidden behind the guise of a mask. This made some of my classes feel like the conversation went way too quickly or we would move back into a lecture without giving much time to think or speak because no one could tell what anyone was thinking.

Getting dressed for class is overrated

Now we all saw this one coming, didn’t we? If you were one of the people that got dressed into non-athleisure wear consistently for Zoom classes and meetings, shout out to you because you are a strong warrior! I was not one of these people, so suddenly putting on at the minimum jeans daily was a true shock to the system. I have regressed into my athleisure wear since classes ended though, and for my comfort, this is undoubtedly for the better.

Drinking is hard AF!

I know what you’re thinking, and suffice it to say, you’re probably thinking the wrong thing. Suddenly wearing a mask makes drinking water or coffee difficult. If you were someone who consistently brought your water bottle, morning coffee and your breakfast to class, think again. With masks being required and taking them off, even for a few seconds, being looked down upon, this seemingly simple task got a whole lot more difficult.

Glasses + Masks = Not Friends

We all learned this the hard way walking down the street or for that one odd outing inside, but this is a true learning curve in classrooms. Glasses are prone to fogging up with the warm air from inside your masks, and this is not conducive to learning. The best solution that I have found to this is to wear a surgical mask with a firm pinch on the bridge of your nose and use Warby Parker’s Anti-Fog Spray on your glasses. Trust me, it does work!

The lessons from the pandemic are long, but as a future-looking person, talking about the resumption of “normal” tasks is also important! If you have already gone back to classes in person, what was your biggest takeaway? If you have not yet gone back to in-person classes, what are you most excited for? Feel free to let us know on Instagram (@HerCampusAtUSFCA) to be featured!

MaryCate (she/her) is a graduate of the University of San Francisco with a BA in International Studies. MaryCate is now a Masters student at Sciences Po in Paris, France studying European Affairs and Global Health.
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