Life as a remote student during a pandemic

Sara Fleming, News Writer

Every day starts just like the day before: my alarm wakes me up at 8 a.m. It’s time for me to get ready for a day of college classes, but something is very different.

The room I’m waking up in is not a dorm room — it is my bedroom in Appleton. The classes I’m getting ready for are not on campus, they are all contained within my laptop.

The majority of my classes are asynchronous, which means I can decide when I work on them. This\ is not how I imagined my sophomore year going, but my family and I agreed it was safer for me to stay at home and limit my risk of exposure to COVID-19.

I begin every day by checking the whiteboard on my wall that organizes my work for the week into specific days. Then, I sit at my desk and I work. Sometimes I have music on, but most of the time I like to open my window and listen to the birds chirping outside.

Then, at around noon, I give myself an hour for lunch. I realized quickly that in order for me to not get burnt out during the day, I needed at least one long brain break.

Then, it’s back to homework. At 5 p.m., even if I’m not done with all my work, I quit for the day and begin to relax. It’s important to me to have a set time to stop working, so that I have enough time to unwind at the end of the day.

I eat dinner, I exercise in my room and then I’m asleep by 10:30 p.m. I repeat this pattern every day.
At the beginning of the semester, I struggled with delegating my tasks to different days. It was quite overwhelming at first, because instead of having specific due dates, most of my class work was just due at the end of the week.

I struggled with balancing my days — I didn’t want to overload myself for any one day. It felt easy to get overwhelmed just with trying to fit all my work into just five or so days. The first couple weeks of school, I had to work on homework all weekend because I wasn’t able to find the right balance.

I haven’t felt that feeling of being ready to learn since we got sent home in March; that feeling you get while sitting in a classroom, waiting for your professor to start the lecture.

Instead of just having to plan my day around homework, I now have to account for prerecorded lectures. It doesn’t feel the same when I’m listening to a lecture on my bed.

When I’m sitting in a classroom, my brain feels prepared to learn, but when I’m sitting in my room, I just feel apathetic. I relax in my room, I laugh in my room. My room is the place I unwind in… it is not the place where I learn.

I spend 13 hours a day in my room; the times I leave it are to\ eat meals. I work in my room, I exercise in my room, I relax in my room and I sleep in my room.

It gets boring quite fast, looking at the same four walls every day. It makes me feel stir-crazy. I’m used to doing much more than sitting in the same chair every day.

Being stuck in your room all day to do school can help you garner an appreciation for things you would have otherwise taken for granted in the past.

Even something as mundane as a meeting on campus can feel like a big event when you have been stuck doing classes in your room for weeks. A casual meeting is something that, in normal circumstances, would’ve been nothing more than something on my calendar.

Now that I’ve been isolated from campus life and my friends, a meeting like this is like getting to go on a field trip in elementary school. You wake up excited, put on your best outfit, and spend the whole day waiting excitedly until the bus arrives to take you to your destination.

On a regular day, I would simply wear sweatpants and a T-shirt. What’s the point of wearing something nice if I’m going to be sitting in the same room all day? But today, I do get to wear something nice — an actual outfit. Something I took for granted a year ago before the pandemic changed all of our lives forever.

I spend about 10 minutes choosing what I want to wear; there is so much I can choose from, but I only get one opportunity. I have to make sure what I wear is perfect since I never know when the next time I can venture onto campus is.

This small action — choosing what to wear — makes me excited. I always loved wearing different outfits to classes, and it almost feels like the world is normal.

After waiting all day until it was finally time to leave and my heart started racing with excitement as I sat down in my car. As I turned the key to start the car, I realized it had been a while since I’d last driven a car. I\ jokingly wondered to myself if I still knew how.

When I meet with my friend before the meeting starts, we eat at Reeve Memorial Union. We both get pizza and sit outside while eating, six feet away from each other, of course. Eating the pizza reminds me of when I would eat pizza every Friday after I was done with my last class.

I miss that feeling.

I miss the feeling of my days not blending together, I miss hanging out with my friends, I miss going to parties, I miss living in the dorms. But most of all, I miss the sense of normalcy I took for granted.