University represents a new chapter in life. It’s where people find lifelong friends, create lasting memories, and discover new things about themselves.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on the college experience.
Most courses at the University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University in Fredericton are online. This means students learn in the comfort of their own space, but it can also mean distractions.
“Since I do everything on my computer, I basically go into this monkey brain mode like, ‘The computer has work to do. The computer also has a fun game so you can do a fun game or do a boring job,” said Colin Dunn, a freshman at UNB, who lives in Marysville.
“You can probably guess which one I choose most of the time.”
Dunn said he spent his days in his bedroom on his computer and his biggest challenge was finding the incentive to finish schoolwork.
“Traditionally, I wouldn’t have as much trouble doing work at school, on the school grounds, but when I’m at home, I associate that with… relaxing after or before school. school,” he said.
“I’ve always struggled with homework for this exact reason. And now literally everything is homework.”
Sofia Paura, a Brazilian international student in her fourth year at St. Thomas University, faces a similar problem.
“I don’t feel like I’m learning because I feel like I’m constantly handing in homework,” Paura said. “It’s not a question of what I learn, it’s a question of how much can be handed in before the deadline.”
Paura said she didn’t even feel like she was in college, but she was more stressed and anxious than she had ever been.
One of the reasons for this: she lives in Florida with her parents, nearly 3,000 kilometers from her university.
Paura is due to graduate next year, but not being with her friends, classmates and teachers has made her feel isolated in her own home.
“In the end, as soon as I turn off my camera, I’m back [in] this bubble. I’m back in my own life [without] the people in it,” she said.
[It] was very, very difficult…to be isolated from my own expectations of how this year was supposed to go.– Sofia Paura, university student
“So it’s been very, very difficult – the feeling of being isolated from everyone, being isolated from classes and being isolated from my own expectations of how this year was supposed to go.”
Isolation is a common feeling among university students this year.
Brookelyn Harmon, a first-year nursing student at the University of New Brunswick, left Halifax for Fredericton, not knowing anyone in town.
Harmon lives in an apartment and all of her classes are online, so she’s only been able to meet about five classmates in person.
“It takes a lot of the stress out, actually,” she said.
“I was surprised how much it did, but having people to ask questions about homework or check our labs for answers or if we fail a test, it’s really comforting to know that we we’re not the only ones.”
Harmon said she had to accept that she wouldn’t get the same grades as she did in high school, which is exacerbated by the stress of online learning.
“It was really hard to go from really high standards for me to being, ‘OK, as long as you understand and you’re successful, that’s fine.'”