Zoom University: The Life of a Student During a Global Pandemic

Zoom University: Student Life During a Global Pandemic

I was sitting in a classroom, listening to my professor ramble on and on about Plato and Aristotelian thought. The clock on the wall seemed to be frozen, and my mind could only focus on what I was going to eat for dinner that night. Suddenly, I heard the Bing! of my phone, as well as a chorus of email notifications from the other devices in the room. Quickly, I pulled out my phone and swiped to my email, where I was greeted by a warm opener from my university president. I will never forget reading the dreaded sentence: Due to the emerging Covid-19 pandemic, all students must return home within 48 hours. 

Leaving somewhere and adjusting rapidly is frightening, and yet was quickly the reality for students across the globe. In the middle of the semester, students, such as myself, were forced to pack up their belongings and return to their homes, not knowing when they would step into the dining hall next. Already difficult courses became an even greater challenge, as childhood bedrooms became student centers and libraries, and laptops became the center of our education. This was the beginning of Zoom University. 

At first, waking up for class five minutes before it began and listening to the lecture from the comfort of my bed seemed like a dream come true. I quickly learned that was not the case. In fact, Zoom University is exhausting, stressful, and oftentimes very lonely. Being a student, dealing with the pressure of maintaining good grades, staying involved, and remaining social, all while surviving an unprecedented global pandemic has proven to be a difficult feat and one that millions of students have been forced to navigate. 

So, how have I, as well as other students, survived? How have students maintained a high GPA with the constant temptation to crawl into their bed to sleep away the day, ignoring any work they have on their to-do list? How have students stayed connected with classmates and gotten involved in clubs, sports, and other programs within their university and beyond? Here are some survival tips that helped me, as well as other students, survive Zoom University.

  • Only hit snooze once! The sound of your alarm is overwhelmingly painful, but resisting the urge to hit snooze multiple times is important if you want to get out of bed in time for class. Plus, getting up and out of bed makes it much less tempting to turn over and sleep away the day. 
  • This may sound cheesy, but opening the blinds and letting the sunlight in has helped brighten the day immensely. A gloomy space leads to a gloomy day. The 5-foot walk to class does not take very long, but quickly you realize that the trek from your bed to your desk is one requiring a great deal of energy.
  • Resist the urge to skip class. Although my hometown quickly became my campus, I was still paying to receive a quality education. Plus, it provided me with some human interaction that I so desperately craved.

“One thing that helped me get through Zoom University is remembering my goals of graduating and maintaining good grades. I had to constantly reinspire myself and adopt optimistic mindsets to continue pushing myself through a tough semester.” - Genevieve Escobedo, Class of 2021, Communications Studies Major, Legal Studies Minor, San Jose State University

  • Create a list for yourself. Finding the motivation to sit and do that 40-page reading on the history of Islamic art was not easy, but sticking to a list helped me keep on top of necessary assignments. Plus, it helped me maintain the GPA needed to study abroad! 

“Making two separate to-do lists for the next day can be a great way to organize your thoughts before bed. I make one for academics and another for physical and mental wellness. The second one really helps me prioritize things like exercise and self-care, which is especially important during the pandemic when we spend so much time sitting and staring at our laptops.” - Ari Berman, Class of 2024, Political Science and Psychology Major, Tufts University

  • Take care of yourself to the best of your ability and do one thing every day that brings you joy. No one expected their lives to be put on pause, but here we are. Take some of the extra time that you have accumulated and focus on yourself. Do a facemask, read a book for pleasure, binge-watch the entire Harry Potter movie series in a week, bake a delicious loaf of banana bread. Some days may feel like the world is falling apart, and in many ways, it is, but I constantly reminded myself that I was doing the best that I could. 

“It’s okay to feel overwhelmed during this time. At the beginning of the pandemic, I felt like giving up because I had lost most of my motivation when all of my classes were switched online. I still pushed myself to be the best student I could, and it paid off at the end of each semester. Believe in yourself, you’re stronger than you think.” - Tomeisha Davis, Class of 2021, Journalism and Media Studies Major, University of Nevada Las Vegas

Surviving Zoom University was an adventure, and I’ve gained new skills and habits that will follow me to campus next year. For example, I’ve learned the importance of organization and how to stay focused during class. I’ve also learned to appreciate the time that I do spend on campus, whether that’s with my friends or by myself in the library. Being a student isn’t easy, but after spending a year learning through a laptop, I’m ready for any challenges that may come my way. 

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