This September, college students from all across the country attended in-person classroom instruction for the first time in a very, very long time. As a token “Covid-19 Freshman,” I complained about online classes with my peers constantly. Zoom never seemed to work, I had trouble meeting people in my classes, my eyes hurt from staring at the screen all day, and I was going crazy locked up in my dorm for hours on end. Going back to the classroom was supposed to be “super exciting,” as I told myself all summer. In preparation for attending classes, I decided that it was time to ditch the sweats, so I went shopping for presentable in person outfits to pop off in my classes. I got new pencils and pens to fill out worksheets in class. However, I really didn’t know what to expect on my first day as I walked up Bascom Hill and through Library Mall. It was overwhelming and stirred anxieties that I didn’t even know were inside of me. Attributes like my body, my posture, the sound of my voice, and even finding a place to sit and when to drink water became stressful decisions. Not to mention my discussion sections in Political Science classes where I felt extremely conscious of my female identity. In person classes bring up a ton of challenges, especially as a woman who is supposed to be a year into this whole “college experience,” but I feel like a freshman stepping into my lecture halls for the first time.
Being on edge in my classes made it hard to focus. And after long days of running all around campus, it felt impossible to sit down and do my homework. Last year I found my groove grinding through my lectures, assignments, and meetings all from the comfort of my dorm or State Street coffee shop. I began to question myself. This new form of school left me feeling exhausted and stressed out all the time, so I struggled to find the academic success of my first year in college. My college experience, GPA, and well-being were on the line. There is no going back to fully online classes, so I had to find a way to make this new system work.
I realized that I struggled being present in lecture. Instead of ensuring that I took good notes, made thoughtful contributions, and actually learned, I was worried about how my classmates perceived me. This insecurity heightened if I arrived to class late, felt unprepared, or if I didn’t have enough time in the before class to complete my morning routine. After identifying the issues blocking my success I was able to put in the work to overcome them.
The first thing I did was re-arrange my whole schedule. I enrolled in almost all new classes that were more conducive to my internal clock and social life. I realized that 8:00am classes and evening Friday discussions were not times that I would be able to present my best self as a student. I decided to accept a “DROPPED” on my transcript to prioritize my wellbeing.
Now we are over a month into school and I’m feeling like I can finally grapple with all of the “new-ness” that this post-pandemic life has brought me. The seasons are changing and it is hard to believe that we are deep into October already. With a couple of weeks of classes under my belt, I can confidently say that I have made the adjustment to this new normal.