Kicking off the winter semester
A new year, a new semester
The winter semester has just started, and many of us are scrambling to purchase calendars and planners, figure out our schedule, and see how this semester will fit into our lives, among a multitude of other things. The winter semester is different from the fall semester in that the winter semester marks a new beginning. It’s a brand-new year. There are 11 other months left to decide how you want your year to go. Furthermore, the university is lively and bustling. It is back to how things used to be pre-COVID. It has only been a few days of school and I am already exhausted and want to go back to being a hermit!
This semester has been off to a great start. There are more food options on campus, more resources, and more opportunities to be involved in different clubs and organizations. I feel like this is my first semester back as I am taking more in-person classes compared to before. The one thing that COVID has made me realize is that I will do anything – absolutely everything – to avoid an in-person class. I want to start my day off waking up at 8 a.m., getting my laptop, turning it on, getting on Zoom for class while still in my pajamas, ensuring my camera and microphone are off, and going right back to sleep.
Feel free to judge me. This is a safe space. You’ve done it, I’ve done it, it’s okay to admit it. There is no shame in that.
I am still facing a culture shock when it comes to in-person classes. I haven’t had in-person exams in years at this point, and I don’t even remember how we all used to take them pre-pandemic. How on earth would we sit in huge rooms with many cameras facing us, instructors and TAs walking up and down every aisle, and the heavy hundred-page exam booklet? There was always so much anxiety and tension in the room. You could see it painted on everyone’s face, the terror of final exams. I will never understand how we are all just supposed to immediately return to that and re-acclimate ourselves to it. It is going to be an interesting journey.
Ultimately, this is what we signed up for when we decided to pursue higher education. There is sadly no evading it. It helps to know that there are many people in the same boat as you. This is a universal feeling across every department.
My advice is to be open to growth and change. It’s important to understand that this is a small chapter of our lives. At times it might feel as though you have been in school forever and you feel so far behind. The fact that you are pursuing academia means that you want to grow. You want a future of personal development and better opportunities. Thus, there is no such thing as being behind. You are exactly where you need to be.
If we have learned anything from the pandemic, it is that life happens, unprecedented things happen, and they derail your goals and plans at times. It is not something that we can predict. All you can do is be kind to yourself and remind yourself that you are doing the best you can with the resources available to you and the knowledge you currently have.