With Covid-19 still on the rise in some places, many college students have found themselves staying home for the semester, either by choice as a safety precaution or because campuses have shut down; and while sitting in my bedroom at home taking classes over Zoom was nowhere on my list of firsts for college, it certainly is an interesting experience to say the least. I’m sure I’m not the only one who had this idea of going away to college and gaining this freeing sense of independence growing up, only for that to be crushed so quickly by a global pandemic was not only unexpected but quite disheartening.
An issue a lot of students have been faced with recently is the struggle of time zones, I’m lucky enough to be close enough to New York to be on the same schedule but I know plenty of students who have to get up at the crack of dawn for a class, which cannot be pleasant (my heart goes out to all of you).
My biggest weakness right now is all the distractions of being home. I’ve been finding it increasingly more difficult to focus when I’m on Zoom for a class or sitting down trying to pump out some work. There are so many things around me, whether that be family members, pets, or just something random I found to mess with on my desk, that I’m so easily distracted by, that it makes working on simple tasks about a thousand times harder than they reasonably should be. It doesn’t help much that Zoom fatigue is very much a real thing and is completely exhausting. Staring into the void that is a computer screen for hours a day with little breaks scattered throughout that time block is rough and starts to mess with you after a while. I’ve personally picked up a few tricks here and there that help me get through it:
Getting dressed in the mornings as if you were going out somewhere helps jump start your brain. You’ll feel a lot more productive and may even get more work done than usual compared to laying in bed in your cozy pajamas, as tempting as that sounds.
Keeping a little notebook or extra paper near you during class to doodle on helps get rid of that uneasiness that comes with sitting at a computer for a long period. I find jotting down whatever I’m thinking of at the moment or just doodling randomly helps me stay a bit more focused on the information my professor is providing.
Take naps when possible. I cannot stress this one enough, naps can and will be your best friend sometimes. If you have a long gap in between classes or some free time before you start to work on any schoolwork, try and squeeze a quick 20-minute nap in there. They help relieve stress and soothe out those headaches that come from staring at a computer screen. You’ll wake up refreshed and ready to continue throughout the rest of the day.
Now don’t let me fool you, being off-campus isn’t all bad. I know I spent endless nights, pre-COVID-19, worrying about being away from home, I was so scared and nervous about everything that honestly staying home is a huge comfort. It’s nice still being with my family, friends, and pets, it helps take a bit of the stress from classes off my shoulders. Slowly but surely my states quarantine restrictions are being lifted, so what adventures I may have been having in NYC right now have been supplemented with day trips to new restaurants or picnics in parks to sit in the sun for a while since we all are in serious need of some Vitamin D. With the fall season just around the corner, I’ve been building up a list of activities to keep myself on my feet and not bored out of my mind. I recommend checking out local farms to find places to go pumpkin or apple picking, or even finding a corn maze to go lose yourself in for a while to distract from the stresses of school.
I know a huge concern right now for many students is all the missed opportunities out there. College is all about meeting new people and experiencing things you never got the change to before, that’s not exactly the easiest goal to accomplish while being in a completely different state than the school I’m attending. It’s hard enough trying to meet new people in person, adding distance and virtual learning makes the task feel nearly impossible. My best piece of advice right now would be to put yourself out there as much as possible! Something that connects all of us right now is social media, don’t be afraid to reach out to new people, plenty of students are in the same shoes right now of wanting to meet those they go to school with so there’s always some kind of opportunity to join a group chat or a one on one conversation with a fellow student. I’ve joined a few group chats with other students who are off campus as well to be able to chat and get to know each other. I’ve also been checking out different clubs to find some that click with me and my interests. I recommend joining or at least checking out as many clubs as your schedule allows, Marymount has quite a lot to choose from no matter what you’re interested in! Clubs are a great way to meet and connect with new people who share similar interests.
In the long run, this semester certainly is unconventional to anything I thought I would be doing right now, but I don’t think I mind it all that much. I’ll have plenty of time in the future to go through the typical college experiences of living in a dorm and being away from home but for right now I’m taking my time to bask in the comfort of being home for just a little bit longer.