An Open Letter to my Rollercoaster of a Sophomore Year

This school year could’ve so easily been terrible. And there were certainly times when it almost was—while I didn’t get sick with COVID, I felt constantly drained, physically and mentally. I got a headache nearly every day of the week from staring at screens all day; the screen time on my computer was through the roof because I was staring at it for school, work, homework, club meetings and to decompress with TV shows in my rare moments of downtime; and I learned that Zoom fatigue and breakout room anxiety are two very real things.

overhead view of a woman sitting in front of her laptop Photo by energepic.com from Pexels Not everything was bad though: I got an internship (virtually), joined a new club and was more willing to go to office hours or attend study sessions than I was last year. I have to admit that it was nice to be able to roll out of bed and log into class a minute before it started since I didn’t have to account for travel time in between classes. Clubs got creative with their socials, hosting virtual painting or game nights, and open book exams were certainly a plus; I’m going to be in for a reality check once exams are in-person again and I’ll have to memorize all my class material instead of control F’ing a 30-page Google Doc with all my notes.

person writing notes while reading a textbook Photo by Gabby K from Pexels But the highlight of my year has to be the connections I managed to make, by some miracle, with my classmates and professors even in this crazy virtual format. In particular, I looked forward to my English seminar, a Zoom course with 20 students and my professor. Somehow my professor managed to transform a Zoom room into a safe space where we had some of the most honest, fascinating and emotional conversations that I’ve ever experienced in a school setting. I’m leaving the class feeling connected to everyone in it and I’m guessing that I’m not alone in that feeling. That’s an impressive feat considering none of us have ever met in person, so I want to say thank you to my professor, and to all the professors who have made the most of this year, managing to evoke in-depth conversations and lasting connections between their students through a screen.

people on zoom call Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels Despite all the unpleasantness that has accompanied the past fourteen months of online school, I’ve learned lessons of resilience and hope that I don’t know that I would’ve been able to otherwise. It was inspiring to see students and professors making the best of the situation we were all in, acknowledging that it sucked to not see each other in person while offering ways to deal with our frustrations and still feel connected to one another. It wasn’t the year that I expected or wanted, but I still learned valuable lessons that I’ll take with me. I can look back on this year with some fond memories, but you can bet that I absolutely cannot wait to put it behind me and return to in-person classes in the fall.