College completely online? No friends coming in and out of my room 24/7? No walking to class saying ‘Hi’ to every person I see? NO THANKS!
That’s what I thought at least. All of those questions plus about 50 others had me totally believing I wanted to go back to campus despite the global pandemic we’re currently in (thanks COVID-19, hate you!). I was so focused on the things and people I would miss that I didn’t even look at the other factors that really were going to affect my ultimate decision.
So, after many pros and cons lists, long conversations with the important people in my life, and advice from professors, online learning became the new normal for me. I was extremely nervous for this new experience. I have always been a visual and collaborative learner, so I thought that being behind a screen would hinder my ability to learn and excel and I was not looking forward to it.
Throughout the semester I have been faced with many challenges, but have also been greatly rewarded with the life of online learning. I want to share them with you so that if you are looking into it or just curious, you can have some insight from my experience!
Loneliness – I recently moved to Charleston, SC meaning that I don’t know anyone my age. There have been so many moments that I am hit by this huge wave of sadness because I feel so alone and want so badly to be with my community at Furman. Being an extrovert, sitting in a room by myself all day long is really taxing for me. But, I’m getting better at it!
Hyper focused – Being at home, all I do is schoolwork, seriously. I sit at my desk and just work on my computer all day long. Yes, I have been able to kill it in my classes, but it definitely hasn’t been great for my mental health. I’ve learned that it is so important to break up the day and do other things that make you happy!! For me that looks like: working out / going on a walk, baking, FaceTiming a friend, and painting!
Motivation – This can happen no matter what your setting is, but I have definitely felt it more at home than at school. There are days where I just feel like I lack any motivation. Being on campus definitely has helped me stay motivated in that past. At home, I don’t run into my classmates and get into a conversation about how far I’ve gotten on the assignment. I have to keep myself motivated and on top.
Academic Success – Because I have had so much time to spend on my academics and haven’t had to balance them with social life and other organizations, my grades are the best they have ever been. I am able to put so much time and effort into each of my classes which produces really thought out work.
Me Time – Although I can be overwhelmed by loneliness at times, being by myself has allowed me to appreciate the time that I have to just relax and re-energize. As I mentioned earlier, I’m an extrovert, so being around people is normally what gives me energy, but I have a new perspective now and am able to be fueled by alone time.
Spiritual Life – Being at school, it is so easy for me to make excuses about how I don’t have time to read my Bible or spend time with the Lord. Being at home, I have no excuses. Living at home has allowed me to spend such precious time reading my Bible and meditating on it without the distractions of friends and the constant work culture at Furman. I have grown more than ever this semester in my faith and even though being online hasn’t been the easiest at times, I wouldn’t take any of it back for this reason.
At the end of the day, I wouldn’t take back my decision. Yes, it has been hard, but I think that it is in the really hard moments that we grow and learn the most. I have been able to learn so much about myself, my likes and dislikes, who my true friends are, and even my learning styles when it comes to academics. I’m not encouraging or discouraging online learning, but I just want to say, change isn’t always bad 🙂
-Alexis Hildenbrant, ’22