• September 17, 2020 |

    how to survive another online semester

    (or at least attempt to)

    article by , illustrated by

    We can all agree that last semester did not exactly go according to plan. The spring was interrupted by a pandemic and we were forced to adapt to a completely different set of circumstances. We had our fair struggles with Zoom, social isolation, and those I’m losing it moments. While I still can’t say that online classes are enjoyable, I have figured out how to make them tolerable. Here are some tips I have learned to help you stay on top of your work and stay sane this fall.


    Separation of Space  

    Since learning is at home, it is easy for different aspects of your life to get meshed together. While it is tempting to wake up and do classes from bed (and sometimes this is called for), try to do your work at a desk or in another room. Whether you have different rooms or a single space, try to establish separate zones for work, eating, sleeping, and socializing. This will train your brain to associate specific places with different tasks. This way you aren’t falling asleep during class or stressing when you are trying to sleep. 


    Routine, Routine, Routine 

    I cannot stress enough how beneficial having a routine is, especially when motivation is lacking. Having a set of actions you do in the morning can set the right tone for the day. It gives you a sense of ease and productivity that carries through to your actual tasks. Some suggestions for a morning routine include writing to-do lists, stretching, exercising, drinking coffee, meditating, making your bed, reading, and listening to music. In addition, having small study rituals such as making tea or creating a study schedule can help you crack open the books with more ease. Having a bedtime routine helps you calm down and let go of any stress you have been carrying throughout the day. 


    Go Outside While You Can 

    If you are on the East Coast, time is ticking on the good weather. Enjoying daily sunlight not only ensures you won’t get vitamin-D deficiency, but also boosts your mood (and who doesn’t want to feel happy?). Taking a short walk is a great alternative to scrolling through TikTok during breaks—you can pretend like it’s still summer and let your mind roam free. 


    Connect and Disconnect

    By this I mean connect with your friends and family and disconnect from your technology. We are already forced to use our electronics for school, so sometimes spending extra time on social media can push us over the edge of living too digitally. Spend time with your family or pod of friends to ground yourself and give your eyeballs a break from screens. If you can hang out in person, try to limit your phone usage. If you have to communicate digitally, don’t be scrolling through your feeds while having a conversation!



    As someone who has to handwrite everything, online materials for classes are a pain. It is hard to stay mentally organized and to keep track of assignments and deadlines when everything exists online. Before the chaos of exams begins, take time to organize all your mounds of classwork and develop a system for taking notes, filing papers, and studying for exams. I recommend bullet journals or using Notion to make organization a creative and customizable process. 


    Be Grateful, but Don’t Be Afraid to Rant

    A great daily practice is to write or say what you are grateful for. It helps you stay optimistic and appreciative during these tough times. However, it is also naive to think you can manifest 24/7 zenness. Sometimes, you just need to rant, scream, punch a pillow, or cry. That’s how we process emotions and it’s a necessary coping mechanism, so don’t be afraid to ride the pendulum of quarantine emotions or to seek further help and support.  


    Do What Excites You

    While classes are intellectually stimulating, they carry a certain dullness over Zoom. I, along with many others, rediscovered an innate curiosity during quarantine for certain hobbies, subjects, or projects. Even though classes are taking up significant time, try to find time to continue exploring your interests and don’t be hesitant to start new passion projects and hobbies. 


    Most importantly, please stay safe!