What makes me a unique writer? This is a question I ask myself often. As an identical twin, saying that I have gone through a bit of an identity crisis is an understatement. I am constantly confronted with the reality of my own uniquenesses, or the lack thereof, especially when it comes to writing.
2020 has been… quite a surprise, has it not?
It feels so long ago now, but I remember how my 2020 began. I was in the midst of fellowship writing and making preparations to return to Cuba for my dissertation research. I knew that the process would be challenging, and I knew that there was going to be a great deal of work and sacrifice ahead, but I felt that over my years in graduate school, I was prepared for just about any challenges that would come my way. Then, COVID hit. I, along with most of my generation of scholars, was thrown into total limbo!
Once upon a time, I had to defend the “prospectus” or plan for my dissertation to my committee members. I spent many months researching, drafting, and revising my prospectus. I focused on making my ideas clear. I memorized the main points of my argument. When my prospectus defense began, I shared with excitement everything I had learned and planned to do. And the first question a committee member asked me in response was: “So… what’s your dissertation about?”
When virtual classes were announced, I immediately thought about how this meant four more months without my favorite Chapel Hill study spots. As a senior, I owe a lot of my success to the environments that have fostered my creativity (I’m looking at you Wilson Library steps, Meantime Coffee Shop, and the courtyard outside of Swain Hall). Having relocated to Newport, Rhode Island for the semester, I spend a lot of time curating study spots that help me stay motivated. Anything to help me avoid slipping into the monotony of daily routine.
When I came back from Iraq in July 2010, I was eager to enter college. It wasn’t that I desired to learn all that I could but that I felt behind. Most of my high school classmates were starting their second year of college when the 747 that delivered me from Iraq to America landed in Gulfport, Mississippi. I wanted to get my college education started because part of me felt that, if I didn’t start soon, I would never go.
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.
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.
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.
“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.