Thoughts from my first semester of college… in a pandemic
Sydney Knake, a first-year student at UD, reflects on what her untraditional first semester of college taught her. Photos courtesy of Sydney Knake.
When most students of the University of Dayton go to class, they remember the basics of what to bring and where to go. Their computer, keys, textbooks, and a schedule are all common items an average student grabs before heading out the door ready to start their day.
Nowadays, it’s all of those things but with an added twist, 2020 style, with a mask, hand sanitizer, and the extra burden that comes with being around people.
These new worries force their way into their jam-packed minds that are already filled with the common worries of a college student, like making new friends and trying to adjust to living on their own. College is anything but easy. Finding out where classes are located, what building is what, and figuring out a way around campus is difficult. When added into the mixing bowl already containing a Black Lives Matter movement and a deadly virus that has encompassed the Earth, college has suddenly become more difficult than usual and has many young adults, like me, feeling anxious and isolated.
Most first-year students, including me, are just now learning to take care of themselves, do laundry, and figure out when and what they will eat. It is so important for college students, especially in the midst of COVID-19, to prioritize themselves and their mental health more than they ever have before.
In college, COVID-19 has caused the stress level of many students on campus this semester to rise. This causes students to feel many emotions and is something that must be examined and met with a certain degree of understanding. There are so many ways to deal with all of the emotions people are experiencing at a time like this.
Some activities deal with finding down time. This includes anything that one does to try and be calm such as arts and crafts, painting and drawing. Some students may feel they are having too much time alone, and extremely isolated. If this is the case some are drawn to activities like drawing or painting, as it allows the mind to not be bored but escape from the present to a whole other world.
There is also meditation which so many people praise for being their saving grace in a time of distress. It calms the mind and the body at the same and helps soothe anxiety. I personally have tried this and found it works incredibly well. It is a great tool to use when I get super stressed out or anxious.
Finally, there is physical self care such as baths and face masks, but the main trick everyone should be doing is carving out a specific day by day schedule. This saves most people the worry they feel when they wake up and don’t know what the day holds.
It is so important to have time alone each day. Some worry that they should be out trying to make friends or participating in something so they can feel connected with their campus and surroundings. Although this is true, nothing can be forced. Letting go and letting things happen seems to work best for me personally.
Everything has to happen the way it is supposed to, and young minds crave this time to decompress and let go of any anxious feelings. It is meant to be a time to rejuvenate and restore the mind to its full capacity. Actions like this result in a clearer head with more energy to get one through the rest of the day.
The world is a very heavy place right now, and it is okay to be feeling its effects. COVID-19 is affecting everyone, but in many different ways. Sometimes we have to look at a time like this as getting through it day by day, instead of just getting through it altogether. We will all get through this, and we will come out the other side stronger and better prepared for what life has to throw at us.
My first semester of college, although filled with stress and the unknown, went very well. It is so important to be there for each other and to spend time with friends and people you are close to. It was so crazy to me how much I really took this for granted, because something as simple as being with friends is hard to come by nowadays.
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