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Stuck in a Rut During COVID-19: A Student's Perspective

The pandemic hasn't been an easy time for anyone. Here are some encouraging words from a student like you to help you get out of a rut and stay productive.

As I’m sure everyone is sick of hearing about, the COVID-19 virus has caused high schools and college campuses around the world to cease in-person classes and commence online learning. It’s obviously a huge disappointment for many students, especially graduating seniors.

Before my school announced that we were moving online for the rest of the semester, the initial plan was to take two weeks after spring break to hold class virtually, then return to in-person classes on April 5. Students said what we thought was a temporary goodbye and headed our separate ways for spring break. It wasn’t until after my 24-hour drive home that I discovered I wouldn’t be seeing my friends or classmates in person for another five months. 

I felt cheated. Junior year of college is when things start coming together for most students. I had already struggled through a rocky winter semester, and it seemed like the spring was finally going my way. Then Miss Rona decided to mess it up. Now I’m back in Las Vegas, attempting to get the same joy out of learning that I have in the past. But it’s hard.

Learning to cope

If you’re anything like me, you might be feeling woefully uninspired and dejected. Frankly, this article is the last thing I wanted to start writing because creating anything right now just seems out of reach. I don’t feel that same drive to write and sing and dance and create right now. This will pass with time, but I’m sure I’m not alone in the inevitable couch potato-ness of my days.

But just because you might feel the need to take a four-hour nap every day doesn’t mean that’s your only option. We spend so much time saying things like “If I wasn’t so busy, I would love to try this” or “When I’m finally not drowning in schoolwork, I’ll pick this up.” Perhaps now is the chance we’ve all been waiting for.

Related: COVID-19: How to Cope With Anxiety

Using your newfound time productively

It’s frightening and a bit ironic that the chance busy students needed to finally have the time to do things they’ve been wanting to do comes from a world-halting pandemic, but let’s indulge in the time we have now by staying productive, shall we?

Write letters

I don’t know if it’s just me, but writing letters makes me feel—for the lack of a better word—expensive. When I sit down to write a letter, I feel like a young Victorian woman writing to her lover during wartime while sitting in the drawing room of an expansive New Hampshire estate that she inherited from her father, an old military war general. (Perhaps this ambience is something only I imagine, but humor me.)

Before I left school, some of my friends exchanged addresses asking for pen pals. Now, I don’t know if they were actually expecting anyone to do it, but since I’m a 76-year-old woman at heart, I busted out my fountain pen and started writing. And honestly? I’ve really enjoyed it. It feels a lot more personal than texting, and the excitement of waiting for the mail to come in isn’t something we experience much these days. Consider giving letter writing a try to connect with friends in a new way.

Go outside 

I know it sounds sad that the idea of going outside is a cute, new quirky thing to try, but I mean really going outside. I realized while I’m at school I usually only go outside when I’m walking from class to class, and it’s likely the same for other students. The interesting thing about online classes, however, is you don’t even have to put on pants to be in the classroom. After my first day inside, I realized I had only taken a whopping 639 steps that day, and I (as well as my thighs) was bummed. I made a quick fix for that, and now I go on walks or ride my bike every day. 

If you find yourself too stationary going to school online, make yourself get up and go outside. Obviously, don’t go walking in a highly populated area, but making time in your “packed” schedule to go on a walk by yourself in an isolated area will give you something to look forward to. It certainly has for me. The weather in Las Vegas is incredible right now, and I’d be a fool to not drink in the sunshine before it turns to 110 degrees in a few months. Going outside and just walking for an hour could also result in finding new places in your neighborhood you never knew were there. Mini adventures are still adventures! 

Read for pleasure

This may just be my school, but a lot of my teachers have toned down the workload, meaning I finally have time to read for fun! Reading isn’t one of my strong suits, but when you have 10 extra hours in the day, there’s no reason not to fill it with some literature. Reading is a talent that has to be worked on, and I’m trying to use books to not only improve that skillset but also provide a gateway to some wonderful escapism. Instead of reading about an economy-crippling, life-stealing, society-splitting virus online, try finding books that really suck you in and forget about the craziness for a while.

Related: 5 Great Book Recommendations for Social Distancing

Learn something new

Playing guitar is a hobby that I’ve tried to pick up again and again for the past eight years, and dang it, I decided now’s the time to do it. My guitar goes untouched for so many months out of the year, and since I don’t have access to the beautiful music school I pay to attend, my childhood bedroom and a secondhand guitar will have to do.

Guitar is similar to writing letters in that it makes me feel expensive. And I love feeling expensive while I’m jamming out with the only two chords I seem to know how to play. But if I’m going to try to make it in the performance business, why not use this time when the world is on hold to better myself as an artist? The lesson is, try filling your time with things you enjoy and activities that better you and your skills in some way.

Related: Performing Arts Majors and Potential Jobs

It may not seem like it, but this too shall pass. Everyone hates that saying because it’s something your grandma would post on Facebook, but it’s true. Many things in life seem like they are world-ending—remember at the beginning of this year when we all thought World War III was about to begin? This virus is bad and should be taken seriously, but just because we pressed the pause button on the Netflix show of life doesn’t mean our personal growth and joy have to pause too. Use this time to discover new things about yourself, and don’t let the bleakness of life right now dull your light. 

If you need more guidance and assurance right now, check out our other COVID-19 resources.

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coronavirus COVID-19 junior year online learning student life

About Jessica Vanek

Jessica Vanek

Jessica Vanek recently graduated from Oklahoma City University as a Musical Theatre major with a minor in Mass Communications. She's also attending Oklahoma City University for graduate school, where she will pursue her Master of Arts in Nonprofit Leadership/Arts Administration.


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