Coming Back From Break: College Frosh Edition

“Yada! Yada–wake up! I’m heading to work and you should get ready for your first class of the semester!”

Upon hearing my mother’s voice, I slowly gained consciousness as I began to wake up from a somewhat decent sleep. “Oh yeah, it’s the first day of classes,” I remind myself. After almost a month and a half of staying up to finish shows on Netflix, baking my days away, and spending some quality time with my family, the thought of getting back into a routine of attending class and sorting out my sleep schedule made me scream into my pillow.

Although I really wanted to join my classmates on campus this semester and have the chaotic yet essential life experience of living in a residence hall, I opted to stay home as a health and safety precaution considering that I live quite far from Worcester. Even though I might not be around my classmates, I am extremely fortunate to have my lovely cat, Leo, right by my side while I focus on lectures!

But I digress–the first day back from break in college somehow manages to be the easiest yet toughest day to get through. On one hand, the most you have to do is read the syllabus and maybe introduce yourself on a discussion board, but on the other hand, you have to do some math with time management and how your course load fits with your personal schedule. I began to ask myself questions such as, “how much time should I allocate towards reviewing my Chemistry materials?” or “Are two hours sufficient for a quick workout and self care session in the middle of the week?” Since this is my first semester taking science and math courses (Calculus 1 and General Chemistry 1), I started thinking my schedule through two weeks before break ended to ensure that I could not only get my pre-medicine requirements down, but successfully and efficiently comprehend my studies.

After experiencing my first semester of college online, I know that what I just described above is much easier said than done, which is why I will share this one piece of advice for anyone who is easily intimidated by course scheduling: make sure that there is enough time between classes for you to take care of yourself! Whether it’s a sufficient amount of time to sit down and take a breather or enough time to take a nap, it does wonders to help with academic stamina. I learned the hard way that burn out in college is lot more intense than in high school (which is only amplified when all of my work is done online), so taking breaks is a must in order to work and learn well.

First days can seem intimidating and usually entail a lot of information being thrown straight at you, especially after a long break. However, it’s always important to gradually bring yourself back into a routine.

Remember: Isaac Newton didn’t develop the principles of Calculus overnight, and Leonardo da Vinci most definitely did not finish his greatest works in one sitting. The first day can feel like the worst, but do not let it deter you from the full class experience immediately!

A Semester Full of “Firsts”

As I stand at my kitchen counter waiting for my Snickerdoodles to finish baking, I cannot help but let my eyes wander to the section of the dining room table that became my makeshift workspace. Comprised of a laptop stand, wireless keyboard, mouse, and a pumpkin that has been there since October, this seemingly simple set-up holds the entirety of my first semester as a college student.

This semester, although completely chaotic given the state of the global pandemic, was filled with “firsts.” Whether it be my first time completing a semester online or turning in a college-level assignment, the experiences were truly unmatched. For example, my Arabic 101 class was the first foreign language class I have taken online. While I would occasionally have issues understanding phrases as the professor spoke about them in class, I remembered that office hours are still available on an online format and that my professor encouraged all of us to speak with him if we ever needed help or would just like to talk.

Speaking with my Arabic 101 professor gave me probably the most important “first” of college in a global pandemic: building the confidence to maintain a healthy line of communication. Given the dependence on online resources and the distance between myself and Holy Cross’s campus, I understood the importance of fostering efficient communication not only with my professors, but with my peers and others in the Holy Cross community.

It might feel like we are truly isolated at times, but it is important to remember that everyone is going through this experience. While I cannot simply say “How goes it, my dude?” to passersby on campus, I can certainly send them a message or e-mail. Despite the distance that stands between me and my classmates, I feel incredibly connected to them thanks to the “firsts” we have encountered together and the overall universality of our experiences.

Essentially, geographical location does not matter. It’s the lines of communications that build bridges to foster incredibly strong connections with others.

Before I go, I would like to say one more thing: Happy Holidays! In the words of my Thai family members, I hope that the New Year bring nothing but prosperity and good health to all of us.