Written by Aarya Patel (Wharton '23)
As COVID-19 took its toll on the world, students were forced to adjust to the intricacies and frustrations of remote learning. Recently, with looser restrictions, many universities are adopting a hybrid learning model where students have their smaller classes or extracurricular activities in-person and the rest via Zoom. Learning to adopt a “hybrid” lifestyle after minimal societal interaction for a year has been extremely difficult. Here are a few things I have learned throughout my journey to help make this transition a bit smoother.
1. Schedule in breaks like you would a class
Attending school virtually allowed us to schedule asynchronous classes back-to-back or even at overlapping times with the promise that we could watch these recordings at our convenience. It was normal to see my schedule packed from 10am to 6pm because, in my mind, I could skip classes whenever I needed a break in my day to eat, workout, see friends, etc. With in-person classes, while we may resort to overscheduling ourselves out of habit, we need to remember to take breaks. Food can’t be consumed in classes and we can no longer make lunch while Zooming into our lectures. It is important that we remember to eat throughout the day, even if that means forgoing a club meeting or office hour. We should treat this break like we would a mandatory class. After all, taking care of ourselves physically and mentally is more important than any class or extracurricular activity.
2. Allow yourself ample opportunities for in-person interaction
It can feel socially overwhelming to return to the quantity and frequency of in-person interactions that many of us had pre-COVID. This is an extremely common sentiment! However, it can be mentally draining to shut yourself out from social settings because that’s what we’re used to at this point. If you feel like this, it may help to ease yourself back into social interactions. You should try to schedule at least one coffee break or study session with close friends every other day for a few weeks. Once this feels comfortable, you could attend smaller gatherings like a movie night or a trip to the mall with acquaintances. Slowly, you can work your way up to whatever level you feel most comfortable.
3. Take the time to focus on your health
With the pandemic still looming, it is important to continue the level of health consciousness we had at the start of COVID-19. Take advantage of the resources your university or school provides to you, such as COVID-19 testing centers or Student Health Services. Limiting our exposure to bacteria in the last year weakened our immune systems, making us more susceptible to common illnesses. If you begin to feel sick, it’s best to just stay home and rest. Pushing yourself to attend classes or meetings can worsen your illness and endanger others, especially those that are immunocompromised.
4. Recognize that it’s okay to struggle
Transitioning back to an in-person college experience has been extremely difficult.. These are truly unprecedented times, leading to unprecedented experiences. If you find yourself needing to spend time by yourself or if you need to miss a lecture to allow yourself time to eat dinner, that is okay! There’s nothing wrong with wanting to push ourselves to accomplish our goals but it’s also healthy to recognize our limits and set boundaries. The best way we can handle this transition is to listen to ourselves and do what we can to put our mental and physical health first. And again, there is nothing wrong with taking a few months to understand what this balance looks like for you.
About the Author:
Aarya is a junior in the Wharton School from Rochester, NY. She has been a member of Wharton Women since her freshman year! She is majoring in Finance and Business Economics & Public Policy with a passion to pursue international development. In her free time, she loves to explore the city, bake, take scenic walks, and spend time with friends! For questions, you can reach Aarya at firstname.lastname@example.org.