Growing up, I already had a hard time staying focused in school. I had undiagnosed ADD, I had Auditory Processing Disorder and Hyperacusis, and I went to public school with class sizes of 30 students. The ADD people now seem to understand, but the APD and Hyperacusis still confuse many. Basically, the Hyperacusis gave me a really broad range of sound frequencies I could hear, and the APD made it so my brain had a hard time filtering the unnecessary noise out. All three of those combined made focusing in school an absolute nightmare. After years of struggling through and finally finding ways to make focusing in school a lot easier, I felt so prepared for college. I was going in with a toolkit of techniques I could use and I was finally choosing the classes I was taking, and ninety percent of the time, they were subjects I was interested in. Unfortunately, as everyone in the world knows, that all changed in March of this year.
Before moving to Honolulu in August, I lived in Silicon Valley in California, and I attended a community college in my hometown. Unfortunately for me, by the time the Spring Quarter rolled around after part of a quarter online, my school still hadn't fully fleshed out how they were going to do distance learning. I was only taking three classes: a psychology class, a Japanese class, and a ceramics class. I was genuinely looking forward to all of them, but I soon realized that Zoom University was going to be much harder than I expected. I only had one class that regularly met over zoom that quarter, and that was my ceramics class. I basically ended up doing a self-study for both Japanese and Psychology, and I hated every minute of it. I dreaded it, honestly. I was expected to give my all for the classes, and the professors didn't ever hold a single lecture or have any video calls of any kind. Thankfully, even after all the dread, I pulled through and passed the classes so I could graduate.
Fast-forward to now, and I am still attending Zoom University. I have two classes that meet regularly online, and two that don't. I still find it so hard to find the motivation, the interest, or the "brain cells" to do the two classes that are asynchronous. They are definitely the harder of the four classes I am taking, not just because there is no in-person lecture, but because the subject material is also a lot more difficult for me to grasp and understand. O'ahu just opened up the island to tourists again, and I'm honestly worried that this is going to cause another COVID-19 case spike, which in turn will further delay school returning to some semblance of normalcy. Not only is this year quite literally the hardest school year I have ever had, but it is also the year where I find it so hard to enjoy the classes I am taking because I feel like I am missing out on so much. I am missing out on all kinds of normal college experiences this year. I know everyone is in the same boat right now, but I still feel as though I might never get those experiences if COVID-19 doesn't die down. It's not just the academics that are affected by attending Zoom University. It's everything from the lack of social events, like clubs or sports games, to finding it extremely difficult to find friends.
Hopefully, within the next year, life returns to normal. School returns to normal. I don't think we're ever fully going to get back to how we were pre-pandemic, but hopefully our new "normal" is just a better version of what we had.