I recently completed my undergraduate degree from the University of Guelph as fourth year student, this past winter. I find myself frequently reflecting on the ways I engage in post-secondary school in the years prior to COVID and this particular year where I attended my classes remotely. I was faced with learning how to work in a busy environment at home, among my family who had daily zoom calls for work. In addition, I saw myself become more forgiving with myself as I experienced greater exhaustion and frustration as I tried to adapt to what I like to call, “Zoom University”.
Remote learning pushed me to better understand the boundaries I need to establish to maintain positivity and avoid feeling burnt out at the end of the day. Nevertheless, the situation that COVID-19 placed me in this year also caused me to feel lonely and hopeless as I felt isolated from my peers and the place, I used to call home for the past 3 years. These feelings were not easy to work through however, it was made easier with a strong support system. Many times, I reached out to peers over digital platforms, attended free counselling sessions, or took a step away from my laptop. As I tried to overcome these feelings, I began to form new hobbies, some which include painting or crocheting, to take a break from my online life. These new hobbies helped me regain some method of enjoying my life again, enjoying my own company again.
Along with creating new distractions for myself, I found myself reaching out to people who often I would be too busy to keep in touch with. The value I started to see in indulging in the relationships and connections I have has grown immensely. COVID-19 has pulled me away from friends and academic peers, however, has brought me closer to my family and to my long distant friends. As I embark on new experiences with my undergraduate career coming to an end, I can now identify the changes within myself, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am more communicative and easily articulate my emotions. I actively reflect on how my feelings and current state of mind, which helps me remember the healthy boundaries and habits I need to maintain. Lastly, I now place value on genuine relationships that I might have overlooked in the past.