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During these uncertain times, there is only one thing we can count on: Zoom class. It has quickly become the center of our academic lives and sometimes our social ones, too. It is the way we learn and the way we interact with our fellow classmates and teachers. And while I am grateful we all can use it, there comes a point with Zoom where it gets old, and we begin to “burn out,” as one of my professors said.
Being at home, Zoom has become a chore to me, like taking out the trash or emptying the dishwasher. It seems like everyone, including me, cannot wait to get out of the Zoom the minute the class is scheduled to end. The socializing before and after class that I always looked forward to is gone, and even the learning environment has changed. I also find it hard to participate in class because I am always afraid I will cut someone off or speak over someone. I tell myself that if I was on campus, these classes would be so much more fun and interesting.
But therein lies the solution to getting through it all: realizing you and I have the power to make Zoom fun and interesting. There are so many little things we can do to make Zoom a little more bearable. Mix up the location of where you’re calling from! As long as you have a wifi or internet connection, you can join a Zoom call anywhere. Whether it’s at the beach, your backyard, in your car, out exploring nature, it doesn’t matter. Believe me, I’ve tested out all of these locations and they work just fine. But keep in mind: If you go outside, make sure you have a mask ready and are social distancing!
Another way to make Zoom fun is to change your profile picture. This spices up the chat room with other icons besides letters, and if you are camera-shy, at least your picture can be a way to express yourself. Virtual backgrounds are probably my favorite feature, as you can make any picture your background when your camera is on. You can put yourself in a scene from your favorite movie, TV show, or even just use a funny picture you found on the internet.
Now if none of those ideas peak your interest, you can always wear a costume like I did. All those old Halloween costumes—the chicken suit you got from Walmart, that blue body suit you wore to the last home football game of your senior year, or even the old jester costume you wore as a kid that you somehow still fit into—now have another use, and you’re guaranteed to make everyone laugh on the call.
The important thing to remember, though, is to not steal the show from the professor. Keep in mind they have worked so hard preparing for this semester, and they have just as much on their plates as we do. Saying a hello when you join a call or goodbye when you leave goes a long way in making them feel better. Stay after and talk to them if there’s time, or chat before class starts. Remember, they’re people, too, just like everyone else on the Zoom. Yeah, we aren't learning in person, but we can use this to our advantage. I hope the things I shared inspire you to not only survive Zoom, but thrive on it.