The coronavirus epidemic has thrown a considerable number of curveballs into my plans for early 2020, as I am sure most readers have experienced. On March 3rd, an email announcing the cancellation of Colorado College’s Semester Abroad in France incited the most unpredictable and dynamic 40 days of my life. I traveled from France to California to New Mexico and finally to Colorado as I struggled to find the most logical place for me to live for the outbreak’s duration. Two weeks into Block 7, I find myself feeling whiplashed and tired.
I consider myself to be almost 100% extroverted. Time alone sucks energy out of me like a vacuum. As I practice social distancing, lethargy blankets my life. The COVID-19 outbreak and its consequences have taught me that socializing is a more important part of my life than I’d previously thought. I’ve also learned that socializing tangentially facilitates my academic success because fatigue negatively impacts my ability to focus.
I am currently enrolled in an English course taught by Professor Re Evitt, which is titled “History of the English Language: Power and Society in Language Change.” I am beyond grateful for my professor’s reaction to distance learning. Professor Evitt acknowledges that adjusting to distance learning is difficult and that all of her students are reacting to the pandemic in different ways. She happily re-negotiates deadlines, calmly cracks jokes when technological glitches occur, and even tries to make the online aspect of Zoom classes fun by encouraging us to use the chat and virtual background features during class. My classmates are fun too; they laugh at uncomfortable silences caused by technological delays or Professor Evitt’s dog barking in the background and they enthusiastically delve into the class material despite the circumstances.
My classmates and I are all living in different time zones, so Professor Evitt typically holds class every weekday from 11:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Mountain Standard Time and again from 1:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. so that all students can attend. About three minutes before class time, I join the virtual meeting by clicking the link listed on the syllabus for that particular day. Because I do not currently own a desk, I usually conduct class in bed with my laptop balanced on my thighs. I turn on the virtual background feature in hopes that pictures from my travels in France disguise the intimacy and bizarreness of the fact that I’m somehow attending school while in bed.
I look forward to class-time because it’s almost social. Professor Evitt often facilitates discussions by breaking the class into virtual meetings of three or four students, and I look forward to talking with my peers about a subject that interests me whether the conversation takes place in-person or online. My class focuses on the history of the English language, which is a subject that I think is much more conducive to online learning than, for example, the visual or performing arts or laboratory sciences. This class would be discussion-based in person too, so the biggest obstacle of the transition has been weathering technological issues and the awkwardness of the situation’s unfamiliarity.
I’m glad I still enjoy class while distance learning, but I wish it wasn’t the most exciting part of my day. I spend the rest of the day after class either doing my homework or thinking about doing it. At night, my roommates and I sometimes try to entertain ourselves with movies and board games. We joke about all the “exciting things we’re going to do” during our upcoming ten-day-long break, which will occur during Colorado’s stay-at-home order. I’m grateful to have found this living situation recently because I was quarantining completely alone beforehand, and the company of my roommates definitely helps keep me sane.
I feel isolated from Colorado College even though I’m currently enrolled in a Colorado College course. I find myself constantly wondering how other professors and students are adjusting to distance learning, and no amount of Zoom conversations with my friends can compensate for my desire to hug them. However, I know that I am not alone in my sentiment; the outbreak has been far from ideal for everyone. For now, I will continue fighting my fatigue and resultant urge to procrastinate, watching movies and playing games with my roommates, and appreciating the effort that my professor and my classmates are putting into adjusting to distance learning.