Pre-quarantine, my chaotic schedule was kind of helpful. I just did whatever I was supposed to do at any given time and place so that things got done, ideally somewhere around the time that they were supposed to. This schedule involved frantically running around, writing papers in strange places at strange hours, and frequently checking Google Calendar. The challenge of showing up in the right places at the right times and keeping deadlines straight meant that I never really had much choice in terms of where my work happened. Now, there is only one right place to be. That has been a bigger adjustment than I thought it would be.
How I Write and Learn
Hi! I’m a Ph.D. student at UNC, and I’m here to write about how I’ve been trying (sometimes successfully, sometimes unsuccessfully) to stay productive as a work-from-home student. I’m in the dissertating phase of graduate school, which means I am no longer taking classes. As a result, most of my work had already been self-motivated before entering quarantine. For me, acclimating to working in isolation has been mostly about protecting the routine I had before and finding ways to keep support networks alive while I’m not able to leave the house.
Wow! If you told me in January that we would be completing the Spring 2020 semester remotely, I would’ve thought you were joking. But, here we are. As a senior, I feel devastated. Many other people are experiencing losses large and small at this time, but all losses are legitimate. So, I thought I would write this honest blog post about how I’m coping with being a senior during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The hours seemed to pass me by as I worked. Afternoon turned to dusk, dusk to night, and soon I realized that I hadn’t stopped to rest, let alone eat. In the best cases, I had accomplished a great deal. In the worst, I’d done little more than “half-work” all day. By the end of my first week in quarantine, the worst case scenario had become my only scenario.
My alarm goes off, which cues Cappuccino, one of my cats, to commence her morning ritual of meowing very, very loudly until I get out of bed. She has officially made it to where the “snooze” button is no longer an option for me. It’s the same sort of wake-up call I’ve had each morning of this school year, so not much feels different at first on this Tuesday morning.
I wholeheartedly believe that the perfect calendar doesn’t exist. It took me a few years of trial and error to learn that a combination of paper and electronic calendars works best for me. This system doesn’t need to be complicated. In my case, I use Google Calendar to figure out where I need to be (as well as any recurring reminders) and a paper calendar for what I need to do.
“We’re all in this together” is so very true even as it seems we are so very far apart, tucked into our various new paths. It’s hard for us to see this though. Even in the before times, pre-COVID-19 and quarantine, I often wished I could give the students I worked with at the Learning Center a peak at the bird’s eye view I had through coaching: we are all going through a lot. Like, so very much. All of the time.
Every night before going to bed, I write down two things I’m grateful for that day in a small, smooth notebook gifted to me by my German “sister.” Growing up as an only child, I relished the year that my family hosted an exchange student from Bielefeld, Germany. Stefanie has always encouraged my writing practice by supplying me with numerous notebooks and pens over the years. This one was supposed to be for documenting trips and travels (we had always imagined taking one together), but, since traveling is far from my mind these days, it has served as the perfect gratitude journal.
What a spring. As new developments surrounding COVID-19 are announced on what seems like a daily basis, getting back to coursework remotely is a daunting and extraordinary task for all of us. One of the biggest difficulties posed by a switch to virtual learning is the loss of routine, which can severely impact our ability to stay organized and keep ourselves accountable for the many projects we have going on. How are you going to balance all of these tasks to make sure you budget your time wisely, prioritize effectively, and remember to do everything?
We coaches at the Writing and Learning Center wanted to give a bit of insight into how all of us write and learn. To start off our blog, I wanted to write about what life is like for me in this current moment, as a senior, a writing coach, and a full-time student doing life from home. It’s bound to get a bit messy, but so it is these days. We’re all in this together.