This semester I am taking four live Zoom classes, two classes in my department, one for my certificate, and the last one for my Quantitative and Computational Reasoning graduation requirement. I generally start my classes at 11 a.m. and end at 3 p.m., with about two classes a day. As an African American Studies concentrator, a reading-based humanities concentration, I read A LOT of pages for class. I prefer to read throughout the day, so I’ll chop up my readings accordingly, but whatever I don’t get to, I let it be. I read everywhere around the house, but I like to type and take notes at my desk! Having a work space that I can walk away from helps me handle my college course load. On campus, we would definitely have time to go from class to class or walk to a friend’s room to study or hang out, so I like to carve out those times into my Zoom schedule as well. 

Fedjine with a book

In my classes with about 60-100 students, it's a little harder to participate, so I am usually more present mentally when we review material in small groups during precept. It feels about the same as my on-campus experience with large lectures, but seeing so many faces at once on Zoom can be a little intimidating. My smaller seminars on Zoom have given me a chance to talk more and ask questions during class that I would feel a little more hesitant to ask. I like the way that the virtual setting allows more space for questions with the chat and raise-your-hand features. As a result of these features, I think students are asking more questions during class rather than privately after, which helps me learn more about the material.

The most challenging part of the college experience this semester has been navigating my schedule and internship applications while being a first-generation, low-income and immigrant student. I make time to clean the house and wash dishes! I cook, sometimes during class, because I don’t get to be just a student at home. I must take up that responsibility as a young woman in an immigrant home because I choose to make that load lighter on my mom, but also because that's the expectation of a young woman in my culture. Being on campus alleviates that sometimes, but being home and managing all these parts of me has been pretty draining. 

I have had a lot on my plate, but I am trying my best to be present when I can and say no when I cannot as well. I ask for extensions, take some classes off when I’m very tired, and go to bed early. Saying no is a form of self-care in this college world. Be kind to yourself. Let all of who you are take up space because all of you will be taking up space in whatever institution you choose.

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