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Welcome back to the blog! I officially started school last Monday, so I’d thought I’d let you know how my first week has been.
Note: Let me know if you like this “week in the life” content! I’m trying to add variety to my style of posts. I also added some gifs to spark some joy and more variety (we all need a pick-me-up sometimes). If this isn’t your cup of tea, what kind of content would you like to see? Let me know in the comments!
It’s been a chaotic first week. I’ve felt a lot of emotions: glee, exhaustion, excitement, and confusion. Like millions of other college students, I am starting to re-adjust to online school. No in-person discussions. No between-class coffee breaks. No dinner meet-ups with my friends. Probably 80-90% of my day has been spent inside, at the kitchen table, with my computer on and my textbooks and notebooks open, coffee in hand.
This is our new reality. I am still trying to wrap my head around it, and I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken me on a rollercoaster of emotions. But now that school has started, I feel pressure to feel ok, although sometimes I’m not. I’m not able to check-in with myself as much as I’d like or to ask, “How are you feeling, and why do you feel that way?”
However, I have had some positives come out of this week! I’ve met my mentee group for University Honors; seen some of my friends’ and professors’ faces on Zoom; and started learning a lot of fascinating things about the world of children’s literature, Spanish Cinema and historic civilizations, and special education.
For this post, I wanted to give you the uncut, honest look into my first week of a virtual college student. It hasn’t been glamorous. Not every day or hour is filled with sunshine and rainbows. It hasn’t been the idyllic college experience. So, I hope you enjoy this look into “a week in my life” as an online college student.
On Monday, I started school bright and early at 8 am. As a board member for S.E.R.V.E., I signed up for virtual office hours during the week, and I chose Monday and Friday mornings. I find that getting up early in the morning motivates me to get more work done and gives me extra time. I’m still not a morning person (I still need a coffee fueling), but I like to push myself to be productive!
After the office hour ended, I started making the finishing touches on last week’s blog post, designed the Motivational Monday post, and started exploring my courses that had been posted.
As the day went on, I continually checked my email for updates on Zoom meetings and whatnot. I was somewhat excited to discover I didn’t have any classes that day because it would give me the rest of the day to adjust. So, I spent the day going on a walk and relaxing.
That night, I joined my University Honors Mentor Training Webinar (yes, I was accepted to be a mentor!). In the training, the trainers overviewed our requirements as mentors, how we should conduct ourselves in meetings, and discussed other necessary details associated with the position. On Wednesday, I will officially meet my group of mentees!
After the meeting, I started my first assignment for one of my Spanish courses, emailed my mentees, and then hit the sack. Overall, I had a very pleasant first day.
I’m going to be honest with you. Tuesday was not a good day.
This was the day that I started to feel the back-to-school pressure and stress we all know and love. The rest of my courses had been posted on the online portal, and I suddenly felt as though I was confronted by a wall of syllabi, expectations, and assignments.
Moreover, I confused my schedule somewhat, so I was struggling to get a grip on categorizing classes and figuring out which one was which in my planner. The joys of virtual learning!
Up until my first Zoom session, I spent my afternoon working on various homework assignments. So far, the majority of my assignments have been introduction forums and discussions, but I have already gained some background knowledge on Spain!
I also finalized my plans for the launch of my Amazon Affiliate Links! I decided to launch these links as an ethical way for you all to support me. If you are unfamiliar with the Amazon Affiliate Program or are interested in supporting me, you can explore the “Amazon Affiliate” page on the blog.
At 3:00 pm, I participated in my first Zoom session for my “Cinema and Culture of Spain” class. It was a long two hours, but I was excited to see some of my classmates from last year’s Spanish class. And the professor did an incredible job of making everyone in class feel welcome, heard, and appreciated. I’m excited to learn more about Spanish cinema and to have films be my “textbooks”! I know this class will be a challenge, but I have a feeling it will be one of the most interesting Spanish classes I’ll take.
By the end of the class, my brain was exhausted. For me, it is really difficult to focus on interpreting and retaining fluent Spanish for two hours. So, I listened to myself and stepped away from working for a couple of hours. Before I went to bed, I finished up a homework assignment and made the finishing touches for the Amazon Affiliate launch post.
To end on a good note, Tuesday was also the day I found out that I will be able to move back up to Duluth for the rest of the semester! I know there may be some mixed feelings, but overall, I am excited to move back up and see my friends again (after quarantining for ten days, of course). Despite the fact I had a rocky second day, I looked at Wednesday with an open mind.
On Wednesday, I started fresh. I went on an early morning run to clear my mind and listen to a podcast (on happiness, what are the odds?!).* Although I might be a little crazy for running so early, I find the times that I can get my reluctant, excuse-making self out of bed, running can be a way to wake up and become present for the day. Plus, who doesn’t love a good podcast?
To officially start the day, I went over my to-do list I made the night before and started to work. I didn’t have any classes today because one of my classes didn’t have any scheduled Zoom meetings this week, so I dedicated the day to getting ahead on homework. I won’t bore you with the details, so let’s just say I spent the whole day working.
That evening, I joined a Zoom meeting to officially meet my mentees and to sit in on the freshman honors orientation. Near the end of the meeting, I formally met my group of mentees! I am very excited to work with them and guide them through their freshman year, and I’m excited to plan some fun activities and to get to know them better! I hope I will make their transition into honors and college as smooth as I can and to support them in any way.
What a rewarding end to a long work day!
Thursday was the busiest day of the school week. And when I say busiest, I realize there are students who are definitely more busy than me in terms of the number of classes they have in a day, so I am not complaining.
Thursday was also the day I started to fall into a predictable schedule. I had a plan on how to approach my fully online classes (the ones without Zoom calls) and had a grasp on my class schedule. I started to feel less stressed and started to accept the new transition.
The day started early -- which I’m expecting will be the norm for me -- with my only 8 am class where our professor read a lot of children’s books to us. It was a lot of fun to sit in on a kind of story time so early in the morning.
Until my afternoon Cinema class, my day was full of, you guessed it, homework. This hasn’t been a very glamorous week, but then again, COVID-19 is the exact opposite of glamorous. However, I always try to add some variety to my day, so I’m not drilling work and sitting in my kitchen all day. So, I went on a short walk.
I highly recommend going on a fifteen minute walk or moving your body in some way to refresh yourself and to re-stimulate your brain. Even though COVID-19 has forced us to stay inside, it has not forced us to sit down all day.
In my Cinema class, we watched un chien andalou, one of the most famous surrealist films. Over the course of the two hours, I went from feeling confused (and a little disturbed) to being completely in awe of Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali’s representation of masculinity and the patriarchy. I absolutely love books and films that use symbolism to portray their themes and reveal hidden meaning.
My day concluded with a Zoom meeting with my RA (residential advisor) and University Honors trivia night!
The last day of a very busy week! Although I didn’t have any classes that day, my schedule was still full.
I had two meetings scheduled that day: my SERVE office hour at 9 am and a meeting to discuss how my time in SERVE can be used to fulfill my honors requirements. In between those meetings, I tried to get as much done as I possibly could.
You see, I’m a planner. Most of my classes this semester assign work to be due within the next week or even month, so I schedule things to make sure I get everything done without overbearing myself. I like to schedule which day I get certain assignments done, and I prefer to complete all of the long-term assignments by the day before they’re due to prevent the impending stress cloud. Looking ahead in the coming week, I noted that my Saturday was full of other plans, and I would be moving on Wednesday, so I needed to get ahead over the weekend as much as I could.
I also started to think ahead about my application for the blocks that was approaching in a month. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the block program for education majors, they are sets of classes that you take that are planned around your practicum experience (in-class observation and shadowing). During the blocks, I will not be able to choose my courses, and I will have heavier course loads than I have in the past.
My major, Unified Early Childhood Studies, starts the block program during the spring semester of a student’s sophomore year, so it is required to apply in the fall. For this application, I need to write a cover letter, request letters of recommendation, and have completed a set amount of prerequisite courses (basically courses that provide a background in education). I hope you liked the little insight into the life of an education major!
I’m happy to say I completed all that I needed to, and even squeezed a run into the afternoon!
. . .
Overall, this week has had a lot of ups and downs. At the beginning, I struggled to get a grasp on my new kind of schedule and adjust back into “college” life. By the end, I had settled into a schedule and felt comfortable in my online setting. That’s not to say I will not have more struggles in the future, but at least I’ve created a steady base.
I wish you all the best as you transition to an online school year or work year. We are all experiencing this together, so we must stay together and support one another.
Please comment below with how your online school/work experience has gone so far!
Meghan Hesterman (she/her) is a child advocate and education blogger. While a student at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), she created Journal of a Future Teacher to share her journey in becoming an early childhood teacher.