I was rushing frantically to fill out as much as I could in the two minutes as the time was ticking from my Chemistry exam. Students scuffled up and down the rows and there was the sound of slamming desks in Aidekman auditorium.
I took one last deep breath and sighed… another completed Chemistry exam that I barely finished. As I got up, and turned in my exam in the box at the front, I could hear students chatting amongst themselves and every student almost simultaneously looked down onto their phones.
“What was going on I thought to myself”.. Then it hit me.. The coronavirus was spreading rapidly like wildfire across the globe … I quickly took my own iPhone out and scrolled through my missed texts, calls and emails.
“COVID-19 update: Significant and immediate changes to Tufts’ operations”
My heart literally sank and I knew the end was coming. I skimmed through the entire email.
“Classes moving online...”
With my brain still processing my Chemistry exam, I pondered if I should focus my attention on the exam or if I should think about how we are all literally getting kicked off campus. My thoughts were mumbled for a couple of hours until the news actually hit me.
Safe to say, after having to leave campus and completing half a semester of virtual classes, it has been the hardest time of my life from adjusting to remote learning, dealing with unexpected family hardships, and worst of all, not being able to connect with people in person, and more. Along with financial hardships during the pandemic, all the challenges mentioned above are exacerbated especially for first generation and low income (FGLI) students. I would be lying if I told you that at times, I did not wonder if college was right for me, or if I should continue as a premed student. Additionally, for all the first years, I would like to point out that I feel for you. Although remote learning was extremely difficult to say the least, I truly believe that with these tips, each and everyone of you guys can do it.
Here are some tips for succeeding this semester from my suitemates and I!
Fit time into your schedule that is not on your computer or tech
This is my number one tip only because I am guilty of staying on my computer all day and being antisocial (sometimes). Additionally, as classes pick up, it is easy to spend an entire day at your desk. Purposefully plan time to go outside even if it is a walk around your neighborhood. I think it is so important to clear your head by going outside if needed.
Get blue light glasses
I was in a summer enrichment program and for the first two weeks, my eyes were absolutely burning after looking at my computer from 8am-5pm. I forget how I came upon blue light glasses, but I cannot recommend them enough. I no longer get migraines each day or see bright lights after using my computer each night. The best part of this deal is that they are quite inexpensive on Amazon. I bought mine for about $10 for two pairs. The downside of this deal is that my blue light glasses have a yellow tint to them, which does not bother me, but may bother some people.
Pick up some type of physical hobby if you can
Personally, I feel that I have gotten super lazy during quarantine. The gyms were closed, I went outside less often, and I started eating more. I found out about at home workouts over YouTube when I was scrolling through videos and it has changed my life!! I personally love the Chloe Ting challenges because they do not take much time out of your day and do not require much equipment at all. Other youtuber’s transformation videos also inspired me to get my behind up and do at home workouts!!
Check in with yourself
Honestly, mental health is no joke. Especially during these times when there are unexpected financial hardships, familial challenges, and more, you definitely need to check in with yourself. I ask myself these questions:
- When was the last time I went outside?
- Am I getting enough food and sleep? Am I drinking enough water?
- When was the last time I took breaks? To watch some Netflix? To go out of Tufts campus or into Boston?
- When did I talk to my family members?
Burnout is so real at a school like Tufts. You need to pace yourself and take breaks!
Don’t roll out of bed and go to class
I am so guilty of this!!! There are definitely those tough nights where you want to sleep in because your first class is at 10:30am or 12pm, BUT you should make time before classes to cook or eat breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and please please do not skip it. I know some of my friends like to do mindfulness meditation to center themselves for the day. It is definitely hard since most classes are remote but building these habits will help you feel more “normal”, even with the pandemic going on.
Schedule any asynchronous classes at the same time each week
I have one asynchronous class each week and it ended up being a three-hour class. I would highly recommend either breaking up time each day to learn the material or use the normal class time to watch the lectures. This is probably one of the most difficult parts of this semester because it takes discipline and motivation to keep up the assignments and work. However, by the time exams come, you will thank yourself for being on top of your classes.
Be communicative with your teachers on what is going on
Your struggles, hardships, and challenges are real and valid. They can take a toll on you and sometimes you may need that extension. My professors were so understanding and reached out to me personally to see how I was doing. They are human too and as long as you are communicating with them effectively, then you should be okay. Just do not ask for an extension THE DAY BEFORE the assignment is due. I think it’s a great way to also get to know your professors especially during office hours if you need that extra help and support.
Learn to actively engage with your classes
This is an active challenge with most of my classes. Some of my questions that I ask myself to stay awake are:
- How can this be applied to my life? I would constantly ask questions about the material and check for my understanding.
- Can you explain this to a ten year old? Can you explain it in your own words?
Be in control of your own learning but this is easier said than done. I think another way to learn is via group study. I know that some of my friends come together once a week to check their answers to problem sets together. Lastly, one thing that I do when I want to give up is thinking about my future as a physician. Everything that I am learning now will be useful for me to be a competent and understanding provider.
And I just wanted to mention again that this is incredibly challenging but I commend each and everyone of you for doing such a great job. Do you have any tips for virtual learning?? Please let me know in the comments section.