The beginning of a new semester is always exciting. Despite how limited our gatherings and on-campus activities are, reuniting with friends and returning to campus might be exactly what some of us need during the pandemic. However, it’s important to remember that the beginning of the semester can also be a stressful time. Memorizing new schedules, finding your syllabi and now you have to factor in keeping track of things like which of our classes require ProctorU. It can feel overwhelming at times, and that’s normal.
Many factors can create this feeling of panic or stress at the beginning of the semester, and it can feel even harder to navigate given the current situation with the pandemic and online classes. It’s hard to juggle everything that makes up being a student right now while dealing with our personal lives as well.
Typical stresses that both new and returning students experience at the beginning of the semester are usually things like time management, homesickness, navigating friendships and adjusting to the new workload. These usual problems we experience might look different now due to the circumstances with the pandemic. Coming back to campus during the pandemic also introduces other stresses to the beginning of the semester; where to get tested, keeping track of who you come into contact with and the coronavirus in general have all been added to the list of things students need to worry about.
For the non-pandemic-related stresses like creating new routines, managing the workload and general time management, students need to put in a lot of extra effort during such a chaotic time. Staring at the screen for hours a day can be draining and stressful. It’s important to maximize the time spent away from your computer and to adjust your schedule as needed to minimize the stress you might be feeling. As we get used to our new schedules, take time to reflect on what’s working and what isn’t. Reflect on how you’re spending your free time and how much time needs to be dedicated to work.
Many people use goal-setting as a way to improve their time management. Setting goals has always helped me carve out time for what I need to finish and stay motivated. But due to the pandemic, the way I do this has changed. I have had to accept that making long-term goals is not feasible at the moment, so I relish in fulfilling smaller goals along the way. It has been difficult to get used to, but it has also allowed me time to celebrate things like finishing Thursday’s homework on Tuesday.
If you’re like me and this is your first semester back in Delaware since last year, you might be feeling a heightened sense of homesickness. I know I found myself struggling upon arriving back in Newark just because I had been with my family for so long that it almost felt like I was back in high school. It sometimes feels odd to be on my own again, but looking on the bright side has helped me with this occasional wave of homesickness. Being able to see my friends again and re-learning how to love the independence I have here are constant reminders of why I wanted to come back.
I also have to adjust to a new routine and learn to manage my time with my classes. Just like how I’m sure a lot of us got used to being around our families and hometown friends, a lot of us became accustomed to a specific routine that suited us during the lockdown. Now that I’m here in Newark, I have found that I can’t have the same routine I had at home in New York.
The pandemic has added a new layer to the usual stress of readjusting your daily routine because we have been in our “lockdown routine” for so long. Some people may have gotten used to spending a lot of time alone and are now overwhelmed by being thrown back into the social scene of the new semester.
Some people may have undergone a lot of personal changes during the pandemic that they now need to find a place for in their everyday college lives. It’s not easy to acknowledge these stressors, but it’s comforting to know that a lot of us are going through this together. If the social aspect of the new semester is something you are concerned about, try to make time to look into clubs that are meeting virtually. Attending these meetings can be a great way to expand your circle and remind yourself that everyone is in the same boat as you.
The sense of uncertainty, the never-ending questions about the future and the beginning of the semester have created a combination of stress a lot of students may be dealing with over the next few weeks. So, how can we combat this? I know that in the face of the pandemic, it might feel hopeless. But there are ways to remedy the stress and work your way through the beginning of the semester madness.
If COVID-19 safety is something that you are concerned about upon returning to Delaware this semester, it’s important to note that the university does offer testing options for students even if you live off-campus. Hopefully, this alleviates some of the pandemic-related stress students may feel upon returning. We can also keep our fingers crossed for a vaccine as the discussion is progressing every day.
Reflect on your perspective and be open to it changing to fit our current circumstances. The pandemic has added to and changed the stress students feel at the beginning of the semester. But, I remain hopeful in our ability to persevere and find ways to still be successful and enjoy our spring semester as we look forward to a return to normalcy.