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How I Write and Learn

How I Write and Learn: Love in the Time of Corona

By Lea

Another day of quarantine means another day of enforcing structure, something that I am sorely missing since UNC’s shift to online classes and the state’s subsequent stay-at-home order. Like many of my peers, I am struggling to maintain work-life separation and am mourning the loss of the people and patterns that would usually give my days some direction. However, I have found that I am leaning even more on those that I care about not only to help me cope but also to help me stay motivated.

Being separated from my classmates, my students at the Learning Center, and my friends and family has been more difficult than I ever expected. But these same social connections are helping me survive and thrive in our new environment. Seeing my classmates’ faces during our online classes, seeing my students during their Zoom appointments, and finding new ways to spend time with friends from a distance are all integral to my new normal.

Attending online classes (with my video on) motivates me to do my normal morning routine: shower, get ready, eat breakfast, and prep my workspace. Planning video chats in the evenings to catch up with friends who moved back home to take care of their parents makes me plan my work time accordingly. Playing digital Dungeons and Dragons or party games with friends on the weekends gives me something to look forward to during the week and differentiates the days from one another. Lunchtime phone calls with my boyfriend, who is working and attending grad school in Charlotte while I’m in Durham, gives us time to catch up and encourage each other as we both face our upcoming assignments and exams.

As an introvert, I thought that quarantine would be fine, that I wouldn’t mind getting a little time to myself. But not being able to see my parents or grandparents, not being able to meet a friend’s new baby, not being able to gather and laugh and soak up the company of the people I love most has been exceedingly hard. Sometimes staying focused on school and work have seemed pointless. But investing in relationships has been one of the silver linings of working from home; doing so has taught me that, no matter how introverted or stressed I may feel, once I return to the outside world, I should hold close the people I love.

Writing and learning is different now—I won’t lie. There are many more negatives than positives, and I am fortunate to still have my health and some stability when many do not. There are days when I don’t “accomplish” anything, and I am learning to be OK with that. There are days when I hold hope and despair in my heart in equal measure, and that’s OK, too. These days that we are experiencing “together-apart” are meaningful, loose and strange as they may feel. And they give me motivation—to look forward to the day that I get to step on campus again, shake people’s hands, and hug my friends tight. I’m ready to take joy in my work, in my students, and in my relationships. I’ll see you all on the other side.

A photo of a group of smiling people outside of Baja Grill to emphasize gatherings before Covid-19.
Pre-COVID baby shower with the gang.

This blog showcases the perspectives of UNC Chapel Hill community members learning and writing online. If you want to talk to a Writing and Learning Center coach about implementing strategies described in the blog, make an appointment with a writing coach or an academic coach today. Have an idea for a blog post about how you are learning and writing remotely? Contact us here.

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