Zooming Through College: A Bittersweet Experiencecsudhbulletin September 22, 2021 0 COMMENTS
A mesh between home and Zoom; the way my last year of college is turning out. Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash
By Lloyd Bravo, Staff Reporter
The thrill that comes from hunting for new notebooks on sale, the aroma of pencils that wafts in the air after opening the manufactured sealed box, organizing your brand new school supplies into your Jansport backpack and lifting the weight of your course books has always been a cathartic experience before beginning a new semester of college.
However, this feeling has eluded me for nearly a year and a half, and instead of the shoulder straps from my heavy bag weighing me down, it is the sense of dread that I have knowing I have missed out on most of my college experience.
I never thought I would miss the thrill of hunting for new school supplies or the earthy scent of lead from my recently purchased Dixon Ticonderoga pencils.
The global pandemic has changed all aspects of our daily lives. In order to remain safe, online platforms like Zoom were utilized to allow students and teachers to interact via the internet. Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom, posted on his blog that, “Over 90,000 schools in 20 countries” have used the communications app to assist schools with online learning.
Although this technology has enabled schools and universities to simulate the classroom environment, I feel that this structure of learning has stifled my growth as a student and ability to speak to my peers and professors.
Knowing that this is not the fault of an individual or group, but a horrific pandemic, I still become anxious seeing the black squares inundated on my computer with white text of unfamiliar names made more anonymous when the void you would like to speak with does not speak back. This has also made group assignments unbearable as more individuals become less social and interactive while hiding behind their virtual blackout curtain.
I commend my professors for trying to keep our courses engaging and interactive, but it is a tremendous task to monitor each unwilling student. It has been a harsh reality that has made my time at California State University, Dominguez Hills bittersweet.
The education is valuable and I have been able to engage with my professors which has provided me with a small sense of community inside my isolated room. Although, saving money on gas and not having to fret about running late for class has been a silver lining.
What I have noticed is that my ability to socialize has been stunted due to the excessive isolation to keep others and myself safe as well as losing a bit of my gregarious personality when talking with my peers. I have lost interest in pursuing friendships and have been afraid to reach out for assistance with assignments.
These types of remorseful emotions are not uncommon as, “80% of college students say that COVID has negatively impacted their mental health,” according to a study by the U.S. Department of Education. This includes intensified states of stress, anxiety, sadness, loneliness and feeling of disappointment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that, “the Delta variant is highly contagious, more than 2x as contagious as previous variants.” This has placed a hazy uncertainty to those wanting to reclaim in-class learning. The pressure of keeping my family safe including my newborn son is my main priority, but for my mental health I welcome the idea of returning to campus.
For now, hybrid classes have been implemented to ease the transition to on-campus classes. Schools have promoted wearing masks, educating and motivating their students to get vaccinated. This has helped quell my mind and has encouraged my eagerness to eventually return to in-person classes in the near future.
I have not lost hope or optimism that things can change and I am humbled by the notion I am not alone while I charge through uncertainty.