I don't think any of us are truly having "the" college experience right now. The world has turned upside down (and sideways and back and forth and pretty much every other direction) since March. We're now into November with no clear end in sight.
Many of us have had to resort to being back home for a multitude of reasons to ride out our semesters. Taking Zoom classes online in your childhood bedroom is definitely not the move. I feel your pain. I recently moved back home after trying out the "COVID campus life" and it is certainly not that much better. So I'm in it for the long haul back home in a room that has not been redecorated since fourth grade.
So yes, I have bright orange walls, a tiny twin bed, and a Crucifix hanging over my doorway.
That being said, as I type this article, Twitter has just notified me that Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccines are "95% effective" and "have passed their safety checks".
So maybe there is hope after all?
Nevertheless, here is a list of tips and tricks that I've compiled that should help lessen the stress of getting that degree in your childhood bedroom!
This may seem obvious, but truly - this is your best defense.
Read that again.
I hope you did it, because if not, I'm gonna tell you to do it again.
As a good friend put it back in March, we are living through a traumatic experience. COVID-19 is our generation's World War II. Our generation's Vietnam. Our generation's AIDS epidemic. All vastly different experiences, of course, but it is still no doubt going to shape who we are. We're all young adults, late teens to mid-twenties. We have so much life ahead of us and we're still growing. How are terms like "mask-wearing" and "social distancing" going to effect us down the road? Will we hesitate when going to reach in for a handshake or a hug? Will we be conditioned to jump every time we hear someone cough or sneeze?
I know moving back home is not where you want to be. You want to be at school, going to class and then relaxing on the weekends with your friends. Trust me, I know.
There's so much unknown. So much of this year is going to shape who we are for the rest of our lives.
So, remember to breathe. Breathing is so simple and yet, it can be our best defense mechanism.
Rearrange and Redecorate!
If you're like me, you walked back into your childhood bedroom that looks like museum. A shrine, really, that your parents have left. When I returned home in March, I still had my Webkinz bunched in a corner and other stuffed animals trickled around. When we got the call in late March that we would be spending the rest of our semester at home, I knew that all of the stuffed things had to go.
So I grabbed a garbage bag and shoved them all in there. I didn't throw them away, of course, but they are now out of sight and out of mind downstairs in the basement. Hopefully my children will enjoy them. (I did kind of obsess of Webkinz and can probably remember all of their names).
When I came home again this fall, I knew that throwing the stuffed animals in a garbage bag wasn't going to be enough. I moved my desk from one corner of the room to the next, so I would have a nice solid color background for my Zoom calls. I was tired of people commenting on my orange walls and me having to explain that they haven't been touched since fourth grade.
So, Mom and I are planning on repainting over Thanksgiving to a nice, neutral gray. Very adult (at least I hope).
I took down the pictures of my friends and I from high school (I love them, but we don't chat as much anymore) and replaced them with pictures of my friends from college. There are a few more pictures of me and my sister and brother-in-law. I also bought some plants, which are fun! And totally not stereotypical of Gen Z whatsoever (*laughs nervously*).
The final thing I added in my room is a white board where every week I change up a quote. It's usually something inspiring that sets my intention for the week. As I write this article, I'm looking at the board that reads "Take your broken heart... Make it into art." It's a quote from Carrie Fisher that Meryl Streep said in her acceptance speech during the Golden Globes in 2017. It is so profound and perfectly set my intention for the week.
Play with lighting!
My room has such bright, bright lighting. The overhead light in my room is so florescent that, combined with constantly staring at my screen, my eyes hurt after a long day of class and work. I've tried avoiding using my overhead light all together and have resorted to my side table lamp and salt lamp to get the job done.
It gives my room a real chill atmosphere to get my work done. It relaxes me and puts me in a good mindset to accomplish everything that I need to get done.
I also try to have my blind open as much as possible to let natural light in. It's a great way to wake up in the morning, having the sun streaming in on your face. Where I am currently living is also really beautiful this time of year, with the leaves falling and frost appearing on the window. So it's great to wake up to that natural beauty.
Change up your playlist!
Every few weeks or so, I try my best to change up my playlists on Spotify. I'm a bit obsessive when it comes to my music, so I listen to the same songs over and over again. After a while, it gets old and I need to move on. Challenge yourself to do the same; come up with a theme and try and find some songs that correlate to it.
My current playlist is entitled "Fallin'" (because it's fall, duh) and it's a mix of Motown, Sara Bareilles, and the occasional show tune. My palate is pretty all over the place (much like me as a person), so I never really know what song is coming up next on the playlist.
Music has been such a stress reliever for me this year. It nourishes my soul and keeps me energized. This fall has been eclipsed by my break-up and my living alone on the Penn State campus. The music has brought me so much comfort in times when it felt like there was no point.
Make a playlist. Load it up with songs that mean something. Or, experience something new.
All of these things that I've mentioned so far are great to help you in your bedroom, but it's also important to switch it up from time to time.
Go on walks in your neighborhood. Find a local park. Soak in the sun while we still have it. Go for a drive around town. Find reasons to leave your room that are safe, socially distant, and don't necessarily involve being indoors. We're so cooped up nowadays, so it's important to find things to do that get you out and about in a safe manner.
I usually try to either go on a walk or go for a drive. Now that I'm back home, I'll be working a lot at my job, so that'll be good. I've really gotten into exercising this year, so now that it's become ingrained in my daily routine, it's hard to not do it.
Whatever you decide to do to help cope, know that you are not alone. We are all living through this moment together. Take up journaling, get a job, reconnect with loved ones and old friends (make phone calls, try letter writing, do socially distant outings, etc.).
You've got this!