It wasn’t too long ago that we were waking up late in the afternoon and hopping onto our online classes in our pajamas as we lay in bed cozily sipping tea while our professors talked in the background. Now, we’re back in school. Many of us are waking up long before the sun has even come up and wishing that the lockdown would stay in place for just a little longer.
It’s not easy adjusting ourselves to this not-so-new lifestyle once again, despite the fact that we’ve been through it many times already. Some of us, however, had our very first college year entirely online, completely warping the expectations we had in mind of what college life is like.
Before starting my first year of college, I was preparing myself mentally on the things I should expect on my very first trip to campus: the different events to attend, facilities to use and clubs to join. I had taken a gap year between high school and college, so I felt like all those ropes were quite new to me. As soon as everything shifted online, however, that mindset had changed drastically. For some time, I was honestly pretty glad. After all, this meant that I wouldn’t have to wake up at six in the morning each day to make my commute and that I could relax and attend each class from the comfort of my home.
I can’t lie, I enjoyed it to the fullest. Class is getting boring? Play some video games in the background. Lecture too long? Record it and watch it later. There really wasn’t much stress involved when it came to taking classes and that was fine with me. As the months went by, though, I began to notice that in all of my classes, I became less and less interested by the actual subject matter. To be fair, not many people are fans of calculus to begin with, but it felt even less appealing to me as it all started seeming like nothing more than plugging numbers into a machine.
Classes becoming duller wasn’t the only effect. The biggest issue to accept was the fact that there simply weren’t many effective ways to reach out to other students and form actual connections. Classmates would still make group chats to communicate with each other, but it was mainly to discuss the homework or complain about the course. As soon as the classes ended, the chats would disband, and students would move on.
It really started to hit me during my third semester online. I began longing for that college experience I always wondered about in high school. As I simply felt no connection to the school I was attending or the work I was doing, it started to feel like work that I had to do because, well, I had to do it if I wanted to graduate. Days started to feel less and less like days and more like a mixture of random moments in time, especially since I expected the same things each and every day.
Coming back to campus has certainly been a jarring experience. From spending an entire year with basically no real scheduling to going back to waking up early in the morning and having to keep track of every hour of my day, it feels like being hit by a semi-truck. I won’t lie, I sometimes find myself wishing to go back into lockdown.
But as the days go by and we begin to adjust to actually having a bedtime again, things begin to look up. Every day is a new day, a chance to see and meet new faces, tackle new problems and engage in new events. That feeling of non-stop monotony I had before is beginning to fade away along with some of the bad habits such as relentless procrastination I picked up during quarantine. Attending class has begun to actually feel worth the amount of money spent on it.
Of course, not everyone may feel the same, but most human beings need other human beings to truly feel like they have a place within the world as well as feel like the work they do means something at the end of the day. Coming back to campus has given me those two feelings once again.