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I don’t know about you, but the pandemic was NOT on my 2020 vision board. How could it be? I had visiting new places, going on adventures with my friends, and being social (not socially distant) as my top priorities.
I also think, after all these months and disruption, that we are all getting kind of tired of talking about this. So, I promise you I won’t be getting into too much of the pandemic talk. Instead, I wanted to dive into how my senior year has been, given that it is fully online.
The first word I would use to describe how I have had to be this semester is flexible. Not the “I can touch my tongue to my elbow” kind of flexible, but the kind of flexible that actually feels much harder in a sense. I have had to come to terms with the fact that things rarely run smoothly the first time around. During my first week of Zoom classes, I was so nervous that my camera would freeze in the middle of me talking. The horror! You never know what awkward or silly face is captured at that moment. However, I realized when this would happen to other people in the class, we were all very understanding and patient with the slight disruption. Now I don’t even give it a second thought.
I believe that, with this newfound patience, my classmates and I have grown closer. This semester, I am taking HN201, which is a required course for the Honors Program. The class is all about leadership and vulnerability. Knowing that you are going to have to get vulnerable during class time is a bit alarming—I get it. What’s even more interesting, though, is that I believe the online course format steps it up a notch in the vulnerability department compared to an in-person class.
Why? Well, we are literally tuning in from our own space. Typically our setting, our home, our room, etc., are unknown when we’re in the same classroom. For the first time ever, our classmates get a tiny glimpse into the spaces we are in. To me, that feels vulnerable. I hope everyone sees the value in this special intimacy we have with one another. We are not a school where our class sizes are 300+ people. Our relatively small classes offer the opportunity to bond and foster relationships with one another.
But despite the surprising upsides of Zoom University, this is not just any year that I have had to go online. This is my senior year. I have been studying for my GRE and researching potential graduate schools. Let me just tell you, it has been a lot. It feels like I am high-school-senior me all over again. Except this time, I feel the pressure if I don’t get into graduate school because that means I would have to dive into the “real world.”
So for any other seniors who feel this pressure, I am right there with you! I think what has really helped me calm my nerves is keeping myself involved on campus, despite being 1000+ miles away at my home in Florida. The Psychology department has really been supportive during this entire process. In actuality, I enjoy tuning into my classes because it builds a sense of normalcy for me, despite all the abnormalities.
In fact, I never thought I’d say this, but this semester isn’t looking so bad. I mean, do I wish I were at Arcadia? Yes. Do I wish that I could be with my friends, taking late-night trips to Target? Yes. But I don’t want to get hung up on what I cannot do. I’m just grateful and appreciative of all the good things that are surrounding me.