College Coronavirus Survival Guide: Food, Frats, and Finishing School

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It’s Week 3 of classes. I’ve already exceeded my semesterly budget for caffeine. I have a perpetual headache from staring at a screen for 15 hours a day. And I spend all the time I used to use for socializing watching old episodes of Glee.

So, I’m doing great

Ok, ok I’m kidding (mostly). Maybe my sophomore year of college isn’t going exactly how I had planned, but it definitely could be worse. I’m living on campus and it’s nice just to have that feeling of normal. All of my lectures are pre-recorded and it’s great to be able to pause and rewind when you’re unclear on a topic. The ability to watch every lecture at your own leisure is certainly a blessing and a curse: It’s a blessing because I never have to worry about scheduling over my classes, but it’s a curse on the Sunday night before the midterm when I procrastinated so hard that I have seven lectures to watch before morning. At least now every test is open note because teachers have no real way of stopping cheating.

Dining hall food hasn’t changed: It’s still greasy, unhealthy, and delicious. The only problem is the school majorly cut its dining budget, so menus have basically been cut in half (this is especially problematic for me, a vegan, since when they’re looking to discontinue unpopular food items, chicken tenders will always beat out tofu wraps). In order to save money, the school also cut back on the hours of all the dining facilities. Places that used to be open until 2:00 AM now close at 6:30. 6:30!!! What type of college kid is eating dinner before 6:30??

The strangest part of college during a pandemic is the social aspects. I am lucky that I already had friends nearby and we have an established “pod” to hang out with. I’ve met freshmen, though, who have said they know nobody down here. That sucks. Of course, people are still welcome to join campus clubs but they can’t meet in person and it’s just not the same virtually. Frats are having to recruit and initiate pledges online (hazing is less barbaric that way, but also less fun). Last night, I attended an online “Friend Speed Dating” event where I spent one minute in a Zoom breakout room talking to different people from my school to see if we could be friends. A lot of my friends have resorted to Tinder and Bumble just to find some sweet, sweet human connection. 

When you’re in online college, strings of days all blend together but each individual day can feel unbearably long. Sometimes, I’ll spend all afternoon just wanting to take a nap, but I can’t sleep at night because I feel like I was too unproductive. Hence, my biggest tip for surviving online college: Make up a routine and stick with it. I am not the only person saying it’s good to combat quarantine with a routine. In fact, I’m sure some people are sick of hearing about it. All I know is that I feel my best when I write out what I am going to do in a day and then I actually do it.

I try to still wake up at 7:30 AM even though I have no 8:00 AM lecture. I try to stretch and run every day even though I’m not seeing anyone I’m trying to impress. I try to talk on the phone with my friends even though we can’t hang out in person. I preorder my dinner because there is no god damn other way I’ll remember to get food before 6:30. I write down my routine and stick with it so there’s no room for “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “I’m too tired.” When I don’t write it down, I can’t hold myself accountable. When I do, I can make my days as “typical” as possible even though I’m not having the “typical college experience.”  

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