I could never have imagined my freshman year at college would turn out this way.
I moved into my dorm in August of 2020. I knew the rules; facemasks at all times, online courses, and socially distanced in-person labs. It was a new situation for everyone. It was strange. It was uncomfortable. It was not what I had imagined.
When imagining my first year of college, I had envisioned going to lectures, drinking iced coffee in class, studying all night, and complaining about homework. While I still logged into zoom, drank a lot more coffee than I should have, pulled all-nighters, and complained a lot about homework, the main difference was that I felt alone.
In reality, I wasn’t. No one was. But we all felt like it. I worked on my school work diligently, joined zooms, and did my assignments. But I wasn’t enjoying myself. I wasn’t making friends. I made my first friend in college the last month before winter break. It was hard. I kept going because my career is important to me. I knew that getting my assignments done was one small step closer to the life I dreamed of having.
Doing my schoolwork has also been difficult. I struggled with procrastination and motivation. The thing that helped the most was my whiteboard. I had a whiteboard right above my desk. On Sunday, I wrote down all my assignments for the week. I would color code my classes. Every time I finished a project, I would wipe it off the board. When the board was empty, or nothing was due for tomorrow, I would reward myself. Sleep, Taco Bell, or ice cream were all regular rewards.
I also made sure to give myself breaks. Online courses are not a natural fit for everyone. They can be complicated and difficult. It is perfectly okay to step away and let yourself decompress when you are stressed out. Coming back to something later is not quitting; it’s smart. After some downtime away from the screen, you’ll have the mental energy to continue. I have to admit, I didn’t attend all my zoom classes. But I didn’t feel guilty about it either. You know why? I am making history. I am a freshman in college, getting an education amidst a pandemic. It has never been done like this before.
We should all be proud. We are all making history.