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None of us could have known we would spend over a year of our academic career isolated in our high school bedroom and talking to professors through a laptop.

Yet, here we are, approaching a year of online instruction and feeling as if any sense of “normalcy” is eons away. Although everyone is quick to complain about this at-home university experience, there are some unforeseen benefits. In an effort to remind us all of the positives of attending “Zoom University,” I have made the following list.

 

1 - Self-Discovery

Although we all think we know ourselves, we truly don’t know who we are until we’ve spent a year with ourselves in quarantine. I have had the time to realize what matters most to me and how I want to spend my time. As tiresome as this situation has been, it has also been an excellent opportunity to “reset.”

 

2 - Zero Commuting

The traffic in Seattle drives (pun intended) me a little bit nuts! I clearly remember one day in which a fifteen-minute commute ended up taking two hours. Having grown up in a small town, it seemed incomprehensible that I spent a decent portion of my day sitting in traffic. Online classes seem completely superior when the time it takes to walk and/or drive to class is taken into consideration.

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3 - $$$...think of all the money you’re saving

Without the seemingly endless costs of commuting, parking, housing, and dining plans that come with living on campus, my bank account has certainly been a lot happier since the start of the pandemic. Since returning to my hometown, I have been able to consistently work at the same café that I did in high school. This has allowed me to save more money than I ever anticipated and allowed me to surpass my goal for a trip to Italy (whenever travel becomes safe).

 

4 - More free time with your loved ones

If there’s anything I’ve learned from living through a global pandemic, it’s that life is too short and too precious--it is essential to spend time with the ones who matter most. My parents are nearly sixty-years old, and my grandmother is nearing ninety. I can’t imagine life without them and I want to make sure that I make the most out of my time with them. Returning home during the pandemic gave me that opportunity.

 

5 - A flexible schedule

This may seem obvious, but I didn’t realize just how much extra time I would have to study, read and write for fun again, and most importantly…sleep! I am particularly grateful to my professors who conduct their class mostly asynchronously. The flexibility of remote instruction is far more forgiving and has definitely allowed me to help my family more often.

 

All in all, remote learning has both positive and negative aspects, and after a year I have come to appreciate the positive features more than ever. In the past, I underestimated the importance of a good-night’s rest, trips to the beach, and stretching throughout the day. As a result of this period for self-reflection I have learned to enjoy life at a slower pace and will live my life differently moving forward.  

As lonely as the current circumstances may seem, we feel your frustration and we are all here with you <3

Mercy Johnson

Washington '23

Mercy is a third-year physiology major at the University of Washington who hopes to become a physician someday. She enjoys journalism, ethics, and anthropology courses. In her spare time, she loves to hike, play piano, and read. She is also a devoted coffee connoisseur!
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