Missing out on more than you know

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Just because you leave your tree up doesn’t mean the joy of the holidays will continue to be felt during courses. Joshua Mayo via Unsplash

The walls of our bedroom is not what we should be remembering about our undergrad experience

It is no surprise to anyone that we are trapped online for yet another few weeks, as it currently stands. Before the winter break all students and staff at the University of Regina received an email informing us of two very important decisions. The first is that we will be starting the Winter 2022 term at home behind our computer screens once more. Following that was the announcement that courses are starting five days later to provide adequate time for professors to change their delivery methods to be suitable for the online platform once more.

To say that anyone was shocked by this decision would be foolish. As much as we all hate to admit it, we knew that this would be coming. It was not a question of ‘if’ we would end up back online, but rather it was a question of ‘when’ it was going to happen. Although some were hopeful that we might get to experience a week or two in person before being shipped to online, we were unable to make it even that far. Despite the prediction that come January 24, 2022, we may be able to return to life in a classroom, this is sounding once again like a distant dream that we will not be able to make a reality.

I, like the rest of the student body, am not fazed that the decision was made. Rather, I am disappointed that we are still being forced to live our undergraduate years out like this. There has been almost two years of remote learning that has taken place. This means two years of being unable to interact with faculty and peers, two years of not being able to utilize the spaces on campus that were built to ensure our success, two years of isolation, and two years of anxious yearning for the day we can sit amongst our peers in a classroom once again.

Unlike many students in the Fall 2021 term, I had the privilege of being on campus weekly. Once a week for work, and once a week for rehearsal. It was a total of three to four hours each week that I had the opportunity to walk the halls, interact with the staff that were there, and see the few peers I could at the time.

Although this might not seem like a lot, I was emotional every single time I stepped foot through any of the doors, filled with fear that this might be the last time I get to step onto campus for months in the event of a lockdown. Knowing that there were thousands of students that were not granted the opportunity for even those few menial hours a week to see the campus and remember what it is like to be a student outside their bedroom.

Now, the feeling of despair is a black hole that feels impossible to crawl out of. With the prevention of courses in person of any kind those few hours have been ripped from my grasp. It feels as though I was trying to hold onto a fistful of sand and there was no chance that I would be able to maintain my grip on it for long.

I had allowed myself the hope of potentially seeing campus more – of being able to utilize the common study spaces, the fitness center, and the libraries. I was looking forward to being able to message friends and see if they wanted to grab coffee somewhere between classes or accidentally running into them in the hall as you try and do the 15-minute dash across campus between classes. There was so much hope and potential that feels as though it has been thrown away with little hope of coming back anytime soon.

Nothing could prepare a person for the best parts of university – the group events, random late night study sessions with friends, welcome week activities, finding that perfect nook to relax in after class, that impulse coffee purchase, among so many other amazing little moments.

We might be doing important research, preparing for higher levels of schooling, or praying that we get hired into a field that is relevant to our degree after everything is all said and done. But those are not the things that you will remember and care about later. You are not going to care about the stress of writing that midterm in your 100-level courses, or the number of pens you went through because you always seemed to lose them before they ran out. What you will remember is your professors love for their dog or the icy shuffle from the parking lot into the school that you had to brave in the winter.

Now I know, all these things sound mundane and pointless. But these are the strange little moments that make university so unique from any other schooling experiences. Being trapped behind a screen is absolutely devastating as it is depriving us of these opportunities to make the weird little memories and enjoy the simpler moments outside of papers, exams, and applications.

Banishing us to life behind our computer screens may be for our own good. There is no arguing that it will keep us safer and slow the spread of everything. Regardless of how good it may be for the state of the province’s health and our own, I am still going to continue to wish that it did not need to happen.

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