Hi everyone! My name is Grace and I am a sophomore studying wildlife biology at Ohio University. I love my school, I love my major, and I love my friends – but I’m not loving this semester. All of my classes are online, dining halls are takeout only, and the only people allowed in my room are my roommate and me. This pandemic has gotten pretty exhausting for everyone, especially if you’re someone who does your part to keep others safe while crowds swarm the bars down the street. If you feel like you’re barely getting by, here’s my advice on how to make it through this semester.
If you live with roommates, set your boundaries early and often. I lucked out and got randomly assigned to the best roommate ever (this is our second year living together)! However, even though she’s the best, that doesn’t mean we live the same exact lifestyle and are compatible in every sense. In fact, we live completely differently, but we’ve made it work by setting boundaries and sticking to them. It may be an awkward conversation initially, but you will be so thankful you had it.
Leave the room as much as you can (while still staying safe!). When all of your classes are online and your fridge is full, it’s tempting to go into zombie mode and never leave the room, but don’t do it! Take a walk and grab lunch, meet a friend at your favorite coffee shop, or even find an excuse to print something out at the library. Your body and mind will thank you for fresh air, exercise (even if it’s slight!), and a change of scenery.
Treat your dorm like your home
Make your room your home. Obviously, you’re living there no matter what, but I’ve found that compartmentalizing my room into areas that would typically be found in a home has helped me adjust to dorm life a little easier. I have a cart for my kitchen things, a cart for my bathroom things, I only use my bed as a sleeping/lounge area, and I use my desk for work and to eat, like a dining room table. I never let myself eat in bed, and I make it every morning so that it can function more like a couch during the day (plus it makes me feel put together!). To add an even greater touch of home, hang up photos of family, friends, pets, and scenery that bring you joy. Getting homesick is common and completely normal, but having things that remind you of home make it a little easier.
Participate in your classes
Actively participate in your online classes. Listen, I HATE online classes. When I entered college, I vowed to never take an online class, and now look at me, I can ONLY take online classes. It’s painful. But I’m trying to make the most of it. I keep my camera on, no matter how rough I look. Not only do professors really appreciate talking to a real person, but it also holds me accountable for paying attention and staying off my phone. I also participate a lot more, and I’m less afraid of answering a question incorrectly, because I know my professors are just thankful someone’s participating. I’ve also started attending office hours more often, and I’ve noticed that I feel a lot more fulfilled at the end of the day when I know I’ve put in an honest effort instead of just getting by.
Don't be afraid to seek help
Lastly, if you are truly having a hard time coping, look into mental health services. You don’t have to be at your breaking point to seek help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, lonely, anxious, or whatever it may be, you have every reason to search for a solution. Most every school provides mental health services in some capacity, and it’s there so you can take advantage of it. It’s not a shameful thing to want to feel better!
I know this advice might sound so basic, but I have had the hardest time doing even the most basic of tasks lately, and I’m sure someone can relate. This certainly is not how I envisioned my college experience, but you have to make the most with what you’ve got. And to be clear, making the most is NOT going to bars because they’re still open, or anything of that sort. Call me a drag, but I take safety seriously, and going out to party is knowingly causing harm to others. It will be a tough semester for sure, but remember that it’s tough because you’re doing the right thing, and that’s what is important. Wear your mask, stay socially distant, and show kindness to those around you. We all need it.