The Ongoing Struggle of Life as a Virtual Student

Friday, May 22

By Sophie Byrne

Put your pencils down, paper away, and get comfy because for the foreseeable future, education is trapped behind a screen. 

I will admit that I was one of those students in class that counted down the minutes until sweet freedom - and for the teachers reading this - I realise now it was a mistake. I'll probably retract that statement again one day but hey, I said it now. The second those familiar desks and boards of my college were whisked away to become a memory, I felt my foundations crumble. I had a routine that I trusted and felt secure with and all of a sudden that goes away because of some teeny tiny 'global pandemic'. 

The only thing more spontaneous than my current routine are the utterances of a newly talking toddler. One minute they're babbling coherently and the next it's nonsense. One day I'm waking early enough to see my parents before they're off to work; other days, I wake up just in time for my 10:30am class. Time is a thick liquid and I'm mistakingly spilling it everywhere. How did I finish an assignment in fifteen minutes but spend an hour on Minecraft finding a pet that looks just like mine?

Grandparents all over the world are itching to tell their grandchildren something along the lines of "back in our day we didn't have the internet to do your fancy techno-lessons." Well, grandpa, nowadays we don't have the choice. "Back in your day" painting red crosses over your doors proved to be a whole lot more ineffective. So I think for the duration of quarantine, you can excuse my increased screentime. Believe me, I'd rather be back in college too. 

Oh to be back sitting with friends discussing absolutely nothing relevant to the lesson. Discussing anteaters, jam production, dragons. Flaunting Grice's maxim of relevancy by using all three in the span of five minutes. Hey, I never said I didn't listen! 

To make matters worse, my education, my confidence, my entire future relies on the extremely temperamental goblin that is the WiFi connection. If the WiFi decides to give up, I have no choice but to as well. Bye bye English degree and hello panic attacks. Deep breath, Soph, I'm sure you're not the only one, right?

There's probably hundreds, thousands or millions of petty problems I could list about online lessons and the stress they create but what's the point of focusing on the negatives? 2020 has already gifted us issue after issue and worry after worry. So, while under my false sense of optimism, thank you Zoom and Google Meet for ensuring I don't get Coronavirus yet...

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