College Nostalgia and Student Struggles!
Before talking about the current COVID-19 crisis, let me take you through a quick journey of your past. Go back to the day you first entered college. You had tons of dreams in your eyes, so many expectations, a vision that now your life was going to take a new turn - probably you expected it to be like a movie.
Ahead of you was a whole different world to explore. Leaving your safe havens behind, you set out in quest of your own unique identity. You were entering a world of struggles and hardships with a tinge of surprises.
Eventually you realized that college is not a cakewalk. You started getting yourself adapted to the new environment. You started getting used to it. Those early morning classes, always running late, the almost inedible food of hostels and PGs, that struggle to enter college without ID cards, that bunking of lectures, hanging out with friends, college canteen, all of it started to be a part of life - your daily schedule.
Personal interlude: Since I left my school and hometown, I have had an annoying thought quite often. “..What if one day, after having entered college, I woke up and suddenly found myself back in the life I used to have. My home, my classmates, my school, what if my old days returned to me? What if a war-like situation popped up out of the blue and all of us got locked up?” Well, I never really knew that this "if" would actually happen. It took me a while to accept that it was not a movie.
At first, we all were enjoying this lockdown really well. It was like a much-needed break. However, slowly the realisation came that it is not going to end so easily and we'll have to work something out in this situation. Things started getting peculiar. A new form of learning came into existence - zoom universities, WhatsApp class, Google meet, google classrooms etc.
We all realized that now it is time to create a new normal which was surely not going to be easy for any of us. There were some common problems that we have all faced in this lockdown and eventually learnt to cope up with them. Adapting to something new, never was and never will be easy. Enlisted below are some struggles we all faced (and still are) during this lockdown.
The pain of online classes
Studying online was difficult especially for those who had a habit of switching off their phones while they were studying. No, not because someone asked them to do so but because they themselves couldn't study with their phones in front of them. We have to agree phones are distracting. How can one concentrate on anything with notifications popping up every second on one’s screen, that's a struggle.
Also, it was problematic for those who had the habit of always holding hard copies while reading, those who couldn't study without their own notes, those who needed a book in their hands if they really wanted to study. Not to miss, deliveries of books during the nation-wide lockdown, from online shops like amazon were out of imagination.
Well, these were just small problems, some real problems were for those who didn't have internet access at all; those who didn't have smartphones or laptops to manage their studies or online classes. Students found themselves in resource-limited and stressful domestic situations that were not conducive to learning.
But if we look at it from a different perspective then it is not so bad. Teachers are trying to help us in the best way they can. Scanning whole books, sending readings and video lectures with a meagre knowledge of the latest technology - they are trying to do their best to help us out. Reaching out to friends of those who can't connect directly, always being ready to counsel us, and being a constant motivation - we should make time to appreciate their efforts.
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This lockdown has been harsh on us in various ways and mental health issues have worsened. Already a huge bunch of people are struggling with different mental health issues - anxiety disorders, depression etc. This lockdown has aggravated all of these problems. College students have had to deal with assignments, online examinations, online classes quite abruptly and of course a constant fear of contracting the horrible virus.
The reason why there has been more stress on college students as compared to school-going students is that the former face a whole new world of competition as soon as they step into college life. The pressure of internships and placements, the fear of lagging behind, the fear of not being able to cope up with everyone else is always lurking.
Also, we shouldn't ignore the fact that amid the pandemic, we have just been surrounded with depressing news - day in and day out. Even if we try, we fail to find positivity. A lack of real communication has created a gap between us and our close ones. Even long term relationships and friendships are drowning.
All of this has affected our physical health too. Increase of screen time, less or no physical activity and other health issues stemming from a sedentary lifestyle have resulted in an unhealthy body and hence an ill mind.
We need to pay more attention to our mental and physical health now or it will be too late. Also, we shouldn't forget to thank our friends who become our guardian angels in times of need.
Uncertainty of placements for final year students
The final year students were worst affected by this pandemic. All their dreams and future plans seemed to have been shattered into pieces. They have been stuck between the college degree and the starting of their careers for a bit too long.
Now these students are just in the middle of a marshy lake where they can neither move forward nor backwards. They can't actually start their careers because they don't have a degree yet!
They can't give examinations because of the infeasibility of the process. Besides, they weren't able to enjoy the last days of their college life, no farewell, no goodbye hugs, no memories of the final day! What they were left with were emotional faces on video calls and eternal regret. The relaxing part here can be that they aren't alone in this. The pandemic hit everyone hard!
Loss of college environment
Going to the college campus wasn't just about attending classes and going back home. There was a whole different story that went on in between. Hanging out with friends is the most deeply missed part in this lockdown. From preparing for a debate in class to getting ready for the fest season, everything was a whole different experience with everyone around - happy and enthusiastic!
Looking beyond the fun part college students are truly missing their self-development. One on one interaction with different people tends to increase confidence which does not really happen while texting or calling. At college everyone’s always searching for new opportunities and is willing to participate in any and everything. Online events nowadays are not attractive enough to participate in the same level of excitement. Accept it or not, the healthy classroom - the competition was the biggest motivation to work. Now we’re just blindly hunting for things to keep us moderately engaged.
This lockdown has slowly and gradually become a productivity race. Social media has undergone a sinister change. We constantly see people finding their passion in this lockdown, doing productive things, taking up internships and different courses etc., but not all of us are on the same level of productivity. All of this makes us feel like we are the only ones wasting this lockdown and doing nothing.
This generation is essentially full of happy pictures and sad lives!
The showing off ritual has used up all the stones to decorate the pot and now the crow is left out thirsty, even if water is still there, it is now unreachable without the stones.
Friendly piece of advice
Do whatever you like at this time! If you are doing anything that is making you happy, you really aren’t wasting your time. Spend time with your family, talk to strangers, make new friends, talk to yourself! This is the only way to cope up with this lockdown!. "Stressing over something that you can't change is not worth it, don't waste your time!"