When I joined my sophomore class at the Rose Hill campus last September, the last thing I imagined was finishing out the year at home, virtually. Fast forward to the spring semester after students were sent home due to coronavirus. It only took a few days for me to miss my friends and wonder how I would handle my virtual classes.
I’ve quickly discovered that going to college at home, rather than on campus, offers new challenges for focusing on my school work. I’m lucky to have my own laptop and in-home wifi. But my entire family is also working at home, too. We made the adjustment by learning to give each other space and openly communicating our work needs so as not to overstrain our WiFi. I also set up a workspace away from my other family members so I can stay focused and motivated.
Even though I’m with my family at home, I feel isolated from my friends because we’re not on campus and physically in class together. Staying connected through Zoom and actively participating in class has helped continue the sense of community in my courses. Most importantly, I stay social by calling and chatting with friends whenever I can.
One person I’ve stayed in touch with via text is my roommate, Jess, who lives in Hawaii. It’s been much harder for her to adapt to virtual classes. For one thing, she has a 5-hour time difference which is a major challenge for taking classes. Her 8:30 a.m. EST class now meets when it is 2:30 a.m. in Hawaii! Thankfully, her professors have been understanding. They record their online lectures so she can watch at a more reasonable time. Another challenge is that because she had to leave campus on such short notice, she left most of her course materials in our dorm room. Fortunately, thanks to her classmates and online resources, she’s getting what she needs. She’s very lucky in at least one respect: While I am stuck in brisk 50 degree weather, she enjoys the warm Hawaii sun!
Like many students, my best friend, Alex, has found concentrating at home to be a challenge. In a small New York City apartment, he’s easily distracted by family members and their two dogs. Spending time with family has been enjoyable, but he also found it necessary to adhere to a strict schedule to him manage school and family responsibilities. Before each live streamed class, he spends time doing school work to get in the right mindset. As a necessary balance, Alex also schedules time for entertainment, such as taking his dogs for walk outside (he wears a face mask, of course!) and playing video games with virtual friends.
Though remote college may not be as fun, through collaboration and flexibility my family, friends, and I have made the best out of this unusual situation. I can’t wait to reunite with Jess and Alex on Fordham University’s beautiful Rose Hill campus. Until then, I will work hard to finish this semester and stay connected with my friends.