How are students adjusting in the pandemic era?

How are students adjusting in the pandemic era?

Photo Credits: Josh Madrid / Aggie. A typical work from home setup.

Class, social networks during COVID-19

In-person classes and campus buildings have been closed for more than half of Spring Quarter. Some students stayed in Davis while others packed up and headed home. Either way, students’ lifestyles have drastically changed, and they’re trying to adjust to modified social networks and classroom experiences. 

Sally Ellberg, a fourth-year biology major, shared her frustrations of trying to stay focused and find motivation to work while at home. 

“Moving home has been hard for me because not only do I miss my friends, but also it is challenging for me to do school work when I am not in that academic environment at school,” Ellberg said. “Oftentimes, when I finally get in the zone, one of my parents will come into my bedroom and distract me.”

Few students have participated in fully-online classes at UC Davis in the past, and most still had in-person discussion sessions to seek help. 

“With classes online, I feel like I am always missing something,” Ellberg said. “Even if I stay organized and on top of things, it can feel like there are assignments hiding in certain tabs on Canvas you weren’t aware about.”

Cynthia Adkisson, a fourth-year animal science major, and Marina Fernandez-Fretzel, a fourth-year neurology, physiology and behavior major, have both remained in Davis for the duration of the shelter-in-place orders. Both shared how even a familiar environment has its challenges.  

“It’s been super hard for me because I did all of my studying in the library and went seven days a week, so now I have to figure out how to focus at home,” Adkisson said.

Adkisson and Fernadez-Fretzel explained that the human interaction and study mindset are hindering their ability to focus. The inability to study around other students has made it difficult to focus. 

“I miss being in the classroom,” Fernadez-Fretzel said. “I feel like I actually pay attention better in class now since online lectures are often at the student’s own pace, but I miss getting ready and putting on normal clothes and asking another human being, ‘Is anyone sitting there?’”

Collaborative environments are also becoming more difficult to work in with online-only communication. 

“Group work has also been somewhat of a struggle,” Fernandez-Fretzel said. “I think it’s harder to feel a sense of accountability with a group of people whose faces you’ve never seen or spoken with in person.”

Friends are the people who students look to for support during midterm season, and personal conflict has also been forced behind a screen. Stil, it’s something to look forward to.

“Not being able to carry out all the Spring Quarter plans I had with my friends is tough, but we’ve been finding other ways to keep in touch,” Fernandez-Fretzel said. “I’ve done social-distancing Arboretum workouts with friends and even went for sprints on the track, which is shocking because I don’t run.”

Of course, sometimes a bit of nostalgia sets in for a year that ended much earlier than expected, especially for graduating seniors that are missing graduation.

“Some days I bike through campus to get to work and that’s when a little wave of sadness will come over me,” Fernandez-Frentzel said. “Seeing the bike circles empty and no lines at the food trucks kind of feels like an old western film where the tumbleweeds blow through a ghost town.”

Graduating seniors can participate in the spring 2020 virtual celebration on Friday, June 12 to get a bit of closure before they take their first steps into a socially distant society. 

“I feel like I am lacking closure because I did not realize my last lecture was my last, or my last time walking on campus as a student was my last,” Ellberg said. “It is all just very anticlimactic as a senior during this time.”

Written by: Josh Madrid — arts@theaggie.org