Unease and anticipation of face-to-face learning

Want to bet how many aren’t paying attention? Mikael Kristenson Via Unsplash

The dread and hope in preparation for the shift back to campus

As March 1 approached, many students grasped the reality of going back to school in person after two years of online classes. I can’t help but feel completely unprepared, although I have tried my best to prepare myself. For the past two and a half years I have been wearing hoodies, PJs, and sweatshirts at home, slowly drinking my warm cup of tea every morning while treating my Zoom class as a podcast.

I have not used my planner since the day we switched to online classes. I just did not feel that it was necessary. I’ve been on survival mode. I can’t remember the last time I had a full eight hours of sleep, or a well-functioning sleeping schedule. The first thing my mother told me when I mentioned that I would be back to in-person classes soon was that she was happy that I would now be forced to fix my sleeping schedule.

Prior to the pandemic, I was always someone who planned extensively. I had detailed to-do lists. I had backup plans for my backup plans. To this day, I still am a planner, but much more relaxed. The pandemic has changed me and many students in ways that we had never expected. It has ruined any remaining social skills I have. My anxiety is at an all-time high. I don’t know how to navigate academic relationships. I feel uncomfortable speaking to other students in class. I just do not have the energy for anything, and that is the harsh truth.

The one thing that makes me nervous is going back to in person exams. I don’t know how any of us would just show up to a room full of hundreds of chairs all perfectly positioned with teachers and TAs walking around keeping an eye on everyone. I have no clue how I managed to get through that before. Now, after years of online exams with one-hour timeframes instead of the usual three, I have no clue how I will handle my first in person exam. My body is shivering just thinking about it. Yet, simultaneously, I welcome this new beginning. I think it is exactly what my mental health needs, as much as I am dreading it.

I cannot wait to finally get back on my fashion game and wear all the cute outfits I had planned to wear before the pandemic started. My favorite thing to do every morning is turn my diffuser on and light some candles while I get ready for my online classes. Now, I will squeeze in a morning workout, get ready for school, and drink a latte, before making my way to school. I love mornings; the crisp air makes my heart full. I especially love getting on the bus early in the morning when it is still dark, and the sun has yet to rise.

A few days ago, I finally got my planner out after months of it collecting dust. I thought it’d do me good to finally fill it out. By the end of it, I almost had a heart attack from seeing how many deadlines I had for March and April. I think filling in my planner made it feel real that we are truly going back to school on March 1. Since the start of reading week, I had been refreshing my email every day, waiting for an update saying that in-person classes would be cancelled. I guess it is time for me to accept the inevitable. Maybe it would be a good time for me to start rebuilding my social skills.

I personally believe that the university is making a mistake by deciding to have in person classes start in the middle of the semester, with less than two months left in the term. It seems quite pointless. Some students are already well settled into their online classes. I think the university should just cut its losses and start an in person semester in the fall. It just makes more sense to wait until the fall. I can’t help but feel that by the end of March the university might decide to hold classes online again. I hope that does not happen because it would be draining for both students and professors.

All my classes are in person except one. I am going to be on campus every week. The one thing I am excited for is to finally be able to get my steps in. I love going to the university because I enjoy walking around the campus. I do it to get my steps in, but also to help with any day-to-day anxiety or worries. Any time I am stressed I like to take a walk. I find that it is helpful to get my mind off classes for some time and just focus on the scenery. The university is an aesthetically pleasing place filled with lots of greenery, light, nature, and art. For example, there is the beautiful piano between the education and Riddell buildings. The chapel at Luther is a gorgeous space that provides healing. The First Nations University is stunning to look at; the architecture is simply breathtaking. Going back to in person classes might just be what we need for our emotional well-being. It might be exactly what we need after some years of dreadful Zoom breakout rooms and anxiety inducing proctored exams


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