The terrifying COVID-19 pandemic is having a huge impact on the Rutgers community—students, faculty, staff, everyone. For us undergraduate students, who are fortunate enough to remain healthy, the switch to remote learning seems to be one of the most disruptive changes.
I am a junior and a commuter, and because I commute, people assume the transition to remote learning will not really have a huge impact on me since I already live at home. However, it has completely changed my daily routine and my life, as it has for thousands of people.
In this time when everything seems scary, I asked my mother, who works as a pediatric case manager and is a registered nurse who is considering helping out at the COVID-19 testing center in Holmdel, N.J., about how she copes with her stress and worry about the novel coronavirus. She said, “Right now, it’s important to think positive in situations like this. Not only will it help the community by being hopeful, but will also help reduce your stress levels, which can help keep your immune system strong.”
So, in the spirit of taking my mother’s advice, I am trying to view my life and current circumstances in a positive way. Before the outbreak, I had a 15-credit workload as a Journalism and Media Studies major, an internship at SC&I, a part-time job, and I was contributing to my sorority on campus. The only time I ever really went home was to sleep. There were even times when I wished for even a short break because my schedule was so hectic. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I went from having absolutely zero free time to having all the time in the world and nothing to do with it.
Remote learning is obviously different from the traditional in-person lectures. Some of my classes still run during the usual class times and are synchronized, so all of us connect through Blackboard Collaborate or Webex. It still feels like I’m in class but in a different way, with the workload still being about the same. I feel the university and my professors have been extremely supportive with the students during this difficult time as they have been extremely understanding. Most of my professors keep open office hours virtually just in case students need help. I can also work remotely for my SC&I internship! We still have our virtual online meetings through Zoom and my supervisors and fellow interns are also just a phone call or text away.
In addition to adjusting to remote learning and interning, my life has changed in other significant ways. At first, my calmer schedule was hard because I am more of an extroverted person and I always like to do something and keep busy. I came to find out that I can still have that lifestyle while at home. If it’s a nice day out, I like to go for a short jog in the morning while listening to my favorite podcasts.
Before, I never had the time to cook, even though I am a culinary school graduate, but now I’ve been able to get back into that passion. I’ve been trying new recipes and going to my old favorites.
I’ve also been able to spend more time with family members I rarely saw before the outbreak. I’ve been able to fully organize my room and declutter my workspace for online classes and work.
I also have never had the time to truly focus on myself until now. The outbreak has allowed me to fully think and reflect. I still keep connected with friends and peers through FaceTime, Skype, and text messaging. I also have social media but I try to limit that time because of all the news surrounding the virus.
Despite my attempts to remain positive, I admit that there are a lot of things I do miss. I miss having that regular routine of getting up in the morning, getting ready, making my coffee, and then driving to school. I miss going to class, learning with face-to-face instruction and interacting with my fellow classmates. I miss going to my internship to work with my fellow interns and supervisors on different ideas and projects. I miss seeing my friends and sorority sisters and doing the little things such as going out to eat or actually being within six feet from each other. Due to cancellations, I’m going to miss seeing some of my friends graduate and I also won’t be able to study abroad during the summer. I had planned to study in Bologna, Italy, through a program offered by SC&I’s Journalism and Media Studies Department taught by Professor Regina Marchi. The program was cancelled because of the pandemic, and since I will be a senior next year, I may never have another opportunity to study abroad.
In spite of my fears and disappointments, I am still looking forward to the rest of the spring semester and enjoying what I will take away from all of these new experiences.
Make sure to stay healthy and hydrated SC&I family! I hope to see you soon!