COVID-19 pushes students to their limit

Students are overwhelmed with the strenuous effects caused by virtual learning

COVID-19 pushes students to their limit

Anson Walldorf, Contributing Writer

I wake up to my 9:30 a.m., alarm and hit snooze for another 15 minutes of rest in preparation for a long day of Zoom (and maybe a mid-day journey to the Pit). 

15 minutes later, I wake up to my second alarm. Blurry-eyed, I force myself out of bed and to my desk to finish any last-minute German homework that I could not muster up the energy to do the night before.

I make my way to my one in-person class of the week, feeling more unmotivated than ever.  With no long weekends, only two wellness days (in the middle of the week) and no Spring Break the semester has begun to feel like the movie “Groundhog Day”. This repetitive routine has become all too familiar for students like myself.

Obviously, the last year or so has been the opposite of normal. With the start of COVID-19, everyone’s world turned upside down. We have gradually adapted to the new normal of life — Zoom meetings and computer screens — but students have begun to reach their breaking point. With so few breaks throughout this academic semester, one word comes to mind: exhaustion.

Exhaustion is continuing to mount for students as the year drags on and we begin to approach finals season.

“It’s been tough,” sophomore Landon Burton said. “It was strenuous to stay in school for so long and not have a break or not be able to go back home. It’s been a lot of consistent work and I think that’s been a little unhealthy.”

Other Wake Forest students can easily relate to this feeling of constant anxiety and stress about school. Adapting to the new lifestyle of school online drastically changed so much about us students.

“As an environmental science major, it’s really difficult taking online classes because I feel like I should be outside for the majority of my stuff,” sophomore Ryan Godfrey said. “In reality, I’m stuck inside all the time. All my classes are online, too, so it’s been difficult.”

Life through Zoom has led to a significant decrease in motivation. Finding any sort of determination in school is difficult when I may have never met a professor in person or if my schedule never forces me to leave the comfort of my room.

“I take the majority of my classes in bed and I usually sleep about 12 hours a day,” Godfrey said. “All I really do is sleep, hang out with my friends or complete schoolwork. So, days are incredibly repetitive and mentally exhausting.”

Personally, I have started living with the constant fear that I have forgotten to submit an assignment or complete some homework for a class. Turning in all my assignments online and trying to keep up with several different classes and all their random due dates through Canvas modules can feel overwhelming.

For example, I have a class that meets on Mondays, yet I often will have assignments due at 5 p.m. on a Friday (I have forgotten on more than one occasion to submit assignments for that class).

However, some students have learned to adapt well to these new methods of learning via online classes.

“I think Zoom classes are kind of nice because I do not think I could attend a regular class for 50 minutes or an hour and 15 and stay focused for that long,” Burton said. “On Zoom, it allows me to be more comfortable and learn how I want to learn.”

Whether you like Zoom classes or not, it is impossible for anyone to truly enjoy all the other changes and restrictions that this year has brought. But, as warm weather and the excitement for a long-awaited summer have finally arrived, there is a renewed sense of hope.

Students are adding anything to their daily routine in hopes of breaking up the consistency that they have felt trapped by for much of the semester and year.

“At the beginning of the semester every day was the same and every weekend was the same thing,” Burton said. “Toward the end of the semester I have tried to find new things to do and just be more spontaneous to brighten up my day.”

With a widespread vaccine rollout on campus and the return of other small things that we have missed so greatly — such as the ice cream machine in the pit — it is beginning to feel like there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel.

I think it hit me for the first time that we are so close to the end of this nightmare when I logged on to WIN for pre-registration for the fall and realized that all of the offered classes were in-person.

As we gradually return to a somewhat normal life, I hope that we do not forget this time. I hope that people reflect on the last year or so with gratitude for all the little pleasures they have noticed. I hope to be thankful in the future for all the twists and turns in my normal daily life because we have all learned how mentally straining it is to live a monotonous, repetitive and boring life.