I am addicted to being in a classroom. I love the desks, the smells, and the conversations. Although I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, I love being judged and finding that my work meets or exceeds my professor’s expectations. And I love learning.
Of course, like the rest of the world, my regularly scheduled activities (classroom and otherwise) were halted, then resumed as slightly different animals, thanks to COVID. Mid-semester, I had to adjust to a program that was largely self directed, relying solely on readings, message boards, and email in lieu of a full classroom experience. And I found it so lonely and disorienting. I missed it all, even the strange, stammered comments or questions that I’d sometimes find myself uttering in a moment of self doubt. Even comments or questions uttered by other students who were maybe a bit verbose. Even those days when there was no conversation, and the class was just a long, droning lecture, and I was hungry and tired, and missed being at home.
It got better. I learned that the relative freedom of remote asynchronous classes was a remarkably poor fit for my lack of discipline. I learned to appreciate (although not love) Google Meet and Zoom, and how to bond with my classmates on those platforms, rather than in person. And then things got a lot better. I realized that being remote gave me the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities that I hadn’t been able to in the past. I joined my student association, and participated in programming, student advocacy, and our burgeoning online community (which exists thanks to the Gottesman Libraries’ very own Rachel Altvater!). And I’m more connected to my peers than I had been before COVID disrupted my world.
I still miss being physically on campus. While I found that I was thriving socially and even pre-professionally- attending talks and conferences, creating programs, leading meetings- it was challenging for me to stay involved academically. In person classes are set to resume this semester, and I have mixed feelings about it. I’m grateful though, for the reminder that I can adapt, and that sometimes an unplanned rerouting can result in some pleasant surprises.