By Marieli Rubio

As appealing as working and studying from home seemed, it has posed various obstacles for college students. Adapting to virtual learning has taught young adults to be flexible, and above all, deal with ambiguity. As uncertainty continues to prevail with internships, an on-campus fall quarter, study abroad, and so much more, students are faced with elevated levels of stress and frustration.

young couple wearing medical masks with laptop and smartphone on city street
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The global pandemic has made it difficult to focus and seek out opportunities that were once there. We are fortunate that technological advances have allowed us to continue with the pursuit of knowledge, yet we realize it is difficult to replace face-to-face learning and communication. Here are a couple pros and cons I have observed and experienced as a rising college senior studying engineering. 

CON – Loss of sense of independence 

College is viewed as a place where students are responsible for self-regulating their time, health, and money. It is a time of exploration, adventure, and learning about one’s passions and goals. Moving back home, after developing a routine on one’s college campus, is challenging.

We became accustomed to eating with our friends at the dining hall, staying up studying at the library, and going to our weekly club meetings. While those activities have transitioned online as well, we now have to align our schedules with family dinner time and responsibilities at home. Our parents and siblings are constantly asking us if we have finished assignments and at times invading our personal space. 

four person standing at top of grassy mountain
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PRO – Family time and Home-cooked meals

You have to admit nothing beats a home cooked meal after eating lots of hamburgers, pizzas, and the not so nutritious food offered at dining halls. We no longer have to swipe our cards to eat, but are instead provided with the food available at home. You are also now required to participate in family movie nights, board games, and best of all, household chores. 

people around a table with food
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CON – Screen time and Focusing Challenges 

Most college students are described as sitting in front of a computer screen at a coffee shop, at the library, or under a tree. While college students access their textbooks online and complete the majority of their schoolwork on an electronic device, lectures on-campus were a time of the day where students were able to engage in class discussions or manually take notes from the chalkboard in the front of the room.

Now that lectures are all online, screen time has significantly increased and students have found that their majority of their day is spent sitting and staring at the computer screens. This has unfortunately led to a more mundane schedule, where students robotically complete assignments online and are left with strained eyesight at the end of the day. 

man working using a laptop
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PRO – Learning at one’s own pace and independent learning 

As an engineering student, I have been accustomed to solving challenging problems in small groups and constantly swinging by my professor’s office to ask pending questions. With virtual learning, this is not the same dynamic. It is now required for students to email and constantly communicate with professors, whether it is providing feedback about how the material is being presented, the amount of workload given, and overall expectations.

Pre-recorded lectures allow students to watch the videos at any time of the day, helping students to complete their schoolwork at their peak energy, and are held more accountable for submitting assignments on time. We no longer can depend on our classmates to re-teach us a lesson, but rather have to figure out our most effective note-taking and studying strategies. 

gray double bell clock
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Many students across the globe have very different circumstances, and the transition to online learning varies across educational levels. My experience as a college student during this time does not apply to everyone, but only offers a glimpse of the benefits and difficulties I have experienced thus far. 

This transition to virtual learning has truly been a learning curve for both professors and students. The biggest takeaway is to be patient and appreciative of the opportunity to still pursue one’s degree and being able to communicate with classmates. As we know, this too shall pass. Our college experience may be cut short, but we are becoming more resilient and adaptable to the coming changes.

high angle photo of boy using imac
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For more of Marieli’s work, head to her blog here

by Andy Chau

It seems that as the “yellow peril” strikes again and now, the Asian-American community has reverted back to the early days of racism and discrimination. Ever since the announcement of COVID-19 arriving in the United States, hate crimes average 100 per day with “at least 1,000 hate crimes incidents being reported against Asian-Americans” according to Democratic Californian Representative Judy Chu. Additionally, I don’t necessarily find it pleasing to hear our president using provocative language that incites opportunities to assault Asian-Americans when we have no direct relationship with the origin of the virus. I don’t understand and maybe I never will because ignorance itself is like a powerful religion. 

On one spectrum we are the “model minority.” We are perceived as great American citizens who work hard, remain within the law, don’t complain about anything, and produce a cohort of offsprings with academic and career success. Then there is the perpetual foreigner perception that we “brought” diseases such as SARS and COVID-19 and/or that we steal jobs, are communists, etc. As idiotic as this sounds, I don’t believe I have encountered a marginalized group that is versatile with being praised and demonized by the public opinion. Yet, it seems as if that isn’t enough for people to stop instilling their anger and frustrations towards innocent groups of people. Is it so hard for those people to realize that we are all fighting the same enemy together? Why are we repeating history when we should be progressing from it? 

On a daily basis, I often worry about not only my safety but my parents’ safety. Knowing that they are amongst the older group of first-generation immigrants, any abrupt health concerns can dramatically worsen their matters. Especially when the pandemic fades, I still have this eerie feeling that gaslighting will continue to traumatize our already tense community. If this is the reality that I and many others will live through, I sure do not want the future generation to experience anything similar to what we are enduring. 

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(the American flag)

Growing up as a multi-ethnic individual, I always thought the “American Dream” would be fulfilled through all the stereotypical characteristics of what a “good Asian” comprises. Growing up, I mesmerized about how I was born in a nation that was free of racism and discrimination and that I can live a life full of role models who look, act, talk, and relate to me. Growing up, I assumed that the “land of the free” was the greatest country ever until I swallowed the red pill. The truth hurts and as a Chinese Vietnamese-American, the truth has forced me to question the society I live in. 

As pessimistic and cynical as I internally feel, I have accepted the fact that this is only the beginning. It’s a new beginning for us, where Asian-Americans both young and old must unite against the persistent existence of racism. This is the time to educate ourselves and hone our communication skills for the necessity of broadcasting ideas of progress. Once COVID-19 is eradicated, it is vital we plan and carry out events, assemblies, rallies, and conferences that enhance the empowerment of marginalized groups. With the enormous losses being shown in glimpses around the globe, I believe that we still have the capabilities to get through this; everything, especially this pandemic, takes major patience and commitment. While life is inevitably cruel and unfair, I think that as each day passes, I know there will be change. As Kobe Bean Bryant (1975-2020) once said, “Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise” and for us, this new beginning as dark as it is is our opportunity to rise and never look back.