With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, most colleges in Baltimore opted to host their Fall 2020 semesters online. Remote learning has its challenges and benefits, and Collegetown Intern Anna spoke with three of their fellow MICA students to see how each of them are navigating learning and staying connected while going to college remotely or taking the semester off.
One thing students agreed on is that online learning has challenged and changed their ways of working. Sculpture major Jia Le Ling says “time management has been more difficult as the line between work and home blurs to an unpleasant point.” However, Jia Le acknowledged that his experience learning online is not as difficult as it is for some due to time zone differences. Currently Jia Le is living in Baltimore, but last semester when he was living at home in Singapore he had to wake up at 3:45 AM for a class that lasted until 7 AM. One challenge that most every student is facing this semester, however, is screen exhaustion. “Staring at the screen for hours has definitely taken a toll on my mental and physical health,” writes Jia Le, but he tries to combat that by meeting up with friends outside to play a game of socially distanced badminton.
Fiber and Master of Arts in Teaching major Yael Bloom has developed similar habits to try to stave off the loneliness she has been feeling this semester. She meets up with local friends outdoors with masks when she can, but says that she is also grateful for the reduction of in-person activities. “I actually find that the pandemic has helped me go at a slower pace and cut back on overworking myself. I get a lot more time to relax because I'm not running from job to class to club meeting.” Jia Le agrees, “the care that everyone is putting towards wellbeing” is something that should stick around when in-person classes can resume. “I hope we move away from ‘the urgency model’ and take things more slowly when classes are in-person again,” writes Yael.
What about students who decided to take a semester off in lieu of a virtual semester? Animation major Declan McKenna did just that rather than begin his senior year online. Since Declan and some of his friends are still living locally in Baltimore, he says “without school, we've found other ways to stay connected and active, such as planning collaborations and off-campus art shows for the future, or participating in demonstrations and protests around the city.” Most importantly, he acknowledges that “taking time off from college has not meant a lack of education.” Declan has been spending his time volunteering for a local candidate and helping people register to vote. “Getting to dedicate more time to the organizations I've been introduced to through MICA or through Baltimore Collegetown has been an amazing experience, and I've gained a whole new set of skills that I may not otherwise have been able to focus on while in school.”
Overall, it hasn’t been easy for some students to continue their college education in these unusual times, but many students have been finding creative solutions to stay connected and healthy. For more wellness resources, visit Collegetown’s COVID-19 Resource Page, and keep an eye out for our updates on Baltimore college’s campus plans for the spring 2021 semester!
Written by Anna Brackett, MICA Architectural Design '22