Overcoming My Unexpected Challenges | St. Lawrence University

Overcoming My Unexpected Challenges

Monday, September 14, 2020

I’m a senior at SLU, and I chose not to return to campus this semester. Like many people, I was blindsided by several events this year that affected my expectations to return in the fall. First was the pandemic. Second was my mother’s diagnosis with breast cancer. Third, was the job I picked up in my town. All three have brought me to the final decision to study remotely, and I am accepting this challenge with open (and heavily sanitized) arms. 

It took me a while to figure out the bright side, but once I did, it was easier for me to accept my decision. Staying home allows me to stay close to the people I love most and begin saving up for after graduation. By sharing my personal situation with you, whether you are on campus, studying remotely this fall semester, or just taking a break, I hope that you can find a bright side to your situation. 

Wherever you are, I’m sure you're pondering what this semester will look like for you and your friends. Although everyone will have a different experience, we will all be able to stay connected.

Reach Out to Your Friends

In a world as wonderfully unpredictable as ours, the one thing I can control, if only in the slightest, is staying in touch with my friends. As a senior learning remotely in the fall and planning to be back on campus in the spring, I expect not to be with my friends for a while. 

Sad as that may be, I look forward to seeing them through Zoom often. It’s one of the experiences that I am grateful will remain close to my expectations. I already know this because I’ve had several Zoom meetings with them over this summer. We share our frustrations and destress, and our laughs are equally as rich as they are in person.  

I encourage you to make time for your friends, whether you are learning remotely or in a hybrid model on campus. Either way, staying in touch with your close friends is important to your personal health and motivation. Safely find a time and comfortable place where you can meet, remotely or in person, to have fun and make memories. It’s at least one action that you will be able to control this coming semester, and it’ll undoubtedly be worth your time.

One of the best feelings over Zoom, is the anticipation of seeing your friends’ smiling faces, hearing their laughs, and revisiting your old corny jokes. In the moment when the screen flicks from a spinning wheel to familiar faces, happiness spreads through me like the scatter of dandelion seeds. Each seed plants itself like hope and relief that the most important things, like these connections, will remain the same. I relax as I find myself at home with my SLU family once more.

Connect With Professors 

Similarly, it is your choice to continue a dialogue with your professor, whether you are on campus or at home. Like always, it is important to connect with your professors to get the most out of your SLU education. Having those one on one meetings can be just as valuable as class time, and now it can be as simple as clicking on a link to video chat. Every professor is different, and therefore each will provide a different experience. Don’t be shy about asking for a little more of their time for your personal benefit. 

From my past years on campus, I learned that many professors are generous with their time and genuinely care about how you’re doing in their course and even your other courses. I noticed that they enjoy when students reach out to them, and appreciate the effort you put in to connect. I’m grateful for the small classes at SLU that make it easier for professors and students to get to know one another and have meaningful relationships beyond the classroom. 

Take Care of Yourself

Lastly, although staying connected is important, taking care of yourself is important too. These are uncertain times, but you can control what you do for your well being. SLU’s counseling services are also always available to students both at home and on campus whenever you need to talk.  

There’s a lot beyond our control this semester, but I encourage you to be yourself, stay safe, and take things one week at a time with the friends and family that surround you both on campus and off.