In-Person Learning Amidst A Global Pandemic…

I’m not really sure how to start this topic because so many people are starting school again and there is a lot of “nervousness” in the air. There have been emails after emails sent from the schools to parents and students that are detailing strategies to not spread COVID – 19 and new safety procedures, check-in procedures, the possibility of everything being shut down if we don’t all just comply to all of the rules.

There were police officers at the entrances to my school, where we are supposed to show our school ID, answer one question about whether we have symptoms or not, and get a thermometer pointed at our forehead to ensure that anyone entering buildings isn’t sick. Then we get a colored wristband to show we are “safe”.

All of this makes sense given our circumstances and I know everyone is doing the best they can with what they have, but it is strange. Masked faces everywhere, more students sitting outside then I’ve ever seen before, half of the benches and chairs inside turned upside down. I didn’t even think to explore my library or bookstore yet, but I was so determined to find my classroom because it was a busy morning.

Entering a classroom for the first time since March was freakishly bizarre. I only have one in-person class this semester and the rest of my schedule is online or through ZOOM, so I was so curious to see how an in-person class would be set up during this pandemic.

There is only one chair to each desk (the desk itself is probably 5 feet long or so). The teacher was nice enough to buy everyone a composition notebook and have notecards and any other material she wanted us to have laid out on each desk. There was hand sanitizer spray, sanitizing wipes, spray, any kind of disinfectant you can imagine.

This teacher is fantastic and even tried using the face shield she had too because it was a bit easier to hear through, plus we could actually see her face. I can tell already that this is a teacher I am going to like because the second thing she discussed on her long list of discussion topics for the day was a bit of a woman’s history with the 19th Amendment. She had my respect from that moment on, I can tell she cares about teaching because she was taking every precaution, then some.

She expressed how hard it was for her students to adjust to online learning in the spring and how she wants to try everything in her power to keep us learning in person. This class requires a lot of in-person activities and projects, (it’s Introduction to Education), and now I see why this was the only one of my classes that stayed as an in-person class this semester.

Nonetheless, it is a jarring scene to witness your instructor present her speech through a plastic face shield that has bulky padding around her head that pushes her hair up unevenly and leaves some hairs poking straight out. Everyone’s voice is muffled with cloth in front of our mouths as we try to introduce ourselves, even though we can’t show so much of our expressions hidden behind the masks.

This is a vastly different experience compared to my first year of college which began completely normally but ended with a stay at home order. Now everyone is trying to find a sense of normalcy among the new CDC guidelines along with our own state guidelines. The staff is trying to make everything as safe as possible; the students seem to be following the necessary steps to stay on campus safely, and all the while faculty are passing out freebie bags all around campus.

My level of commitment is far more limited than that of my instructors because I only have to be on campus for about an hour and a half (including travel time). I am following all of the guidelines and wearing my mask of course but I also have four other fully online classes so if this doesn’t last all semester long, I will be okay.

I feel for the instructors who are working their butts off to be able to educate the students (me) in the best way possible, they are pulling out all of the supplies and are always willing to adjust to help us (the students). If the school isn’t able to continue in-person learning through until the end of the semester, that is who I will feel for, the teachers who are trying everything they can to continue teaching their students valuable lessons.

I’m not sure how this update on my schooling experiences for the 2020 Fall Semester turned into an appreciation post for teachers, but oh well. Thank you, teachers, instructors, professors, whatever you may call yourselves thank you for not letting an entire generation of young U.S citizens miss out on a year of education.

How is everyone else acclimating to the new learning style in 2020? How are people from outside of the U.S. handling this new school year? I would love to hear from you all in the comments below! Thank you for reading my blog, and happy reading to every one of you.

Copyright © 2020 Serra Isabella. All rights reserved.

Starting Summer Classes On Zoom

This week I start my summer college classes which means I will be on zoom twice a week instead of in a classroom for 4 hours twice a week. My college has chosen to do the summer classes remotely and the fall semester is still undetermined. Similar to many universities and even public schools across the world, teachers, and students are being thrown into the chaos of online schooling. Most people aren’t sure if we’ll return to the physical classrooms again in 2020, I included. 

That’s an overwhelming thought and to some it seems impractical because learning online can be difficult and you definingly aren’t getting the full experience of learning in a classroom. I have seen a few videos of students getting failing grades on their spring online finals under suspicion of cheating (who knows if they did or not). But either way this new form of learning is causing a lot of people distress, teachers don’t want to compromise their cheating policies and students are just trying to survive the semester. So of course, online learning has its drawbacks, but I want to look on the brighter side and see the positivity in the fact that I don’t have to leave my house for education.

No Reason to Dress Up

Long gone are the days where I would feel the need to put jeans and a nice shirt on in order to be a functioning human. This whole summer I will be attending my morning Zoom meeting wrapped with a blanket around my legs and probably the shirt I slept in the night before (and a couple girls in my class actually did wrap themselves up in a blanket). What’s the point of wasting an entire outfit for a video call? 

All jokes aside I have basically abandoned my jeans for shorts and leggings (until the fateful moment when I need to do laundry and have nothing, but jeans left). As spring comes to an end and the summer heat begins to turn my third story apartment into a furnace, I have realized I cannot handle the feeling of jeans and sweat. Nope. So, I shall stay in my leggings and shorts and not worry about how I look because I can’t be bothered.

No Social Interaction

As daunting as it feels to speak in a zoom meeting while your entire class stares through their screens with the volume all the way up, it’s nothing compared to standing in front of a class who can now judge everything you say and how you look saying it. I always feel the most nervous just before I start speaking because at that point the class has nothing to judge me off of but my appearance. In the virtual classroom I can at least put myself on mute and even turn off my camera for whenever my boyfriend comes into the background because he forgot I had a class. 

Bottom line I am an introvert so the opportunity to learn alone in my home is a blessing in disguise. I am lucky in the regard that I can learn by simply listening to a lecture or watching a presentation. Whereas I understand other students cannot learn unless they have the opportunity for hands-on learning, so online learning just isn’t working for them. Not to mention I am not studying in a field that requires much hands-on training until a few years from now when I will be doing internships. But at this time in my education I don’t need to be in the classroom all semester long, especially when I know I’m not missing out on anything (cause FOMO is real).

Saving So Much on Gas

Since I can’t leave my house and now, I don’t have to go anywhere to learn I must say I think I’ve filled up my tank once. Not to mention gas prices where the lowest I’ve ever seen in my life (I know it’s not a very long one but still). I mean I paid a dollar fifty per gallon, filled up my tank, and I have not had to refill in so long. It really puts into perspective where all my money is going when I am forced to stay home and not go out spending money.

I am saving not just money but time as well, I don’t have to waste time traveling from my house to the school which by the end of the day can add up to hours taken away from creative time. Plus, without the reason to go somewhere I can’t justify going to any stores or fast food places which inevitably costs me a lot of money every time. Being forced to stay home has really helped me not spend so much money whether that’s on a necessity like gas or a commodity like Target and ice-cream.

All in all, I am excited for the next six weeks of remote learning for my college credits, while I continue to learn more about the business of blogging and graphic design and creating on the internet. I think remote learning gives me the time and space to develop my creative skills and passions, or at least it has given me the inspiration to do it. 

Copyright © 2020 Serra Isabella. All rights reserved.

4 – 21 – 2020

Why hello, it’s been a while since I’ve written but I recently discovered something really important that I feel I just have to share: passion, motivation, and drive. I feel like I have to take you back a couple years to really explain what I mean though.
When I was a teenager, I told myself I am never going to work at a 9 – 5 type of job, I didn’t want to become a slave, so to speak, to a company. I think I was about 14 when I started my first YouTube channel, SillySerra, and yes it is very cringy but after I abandoned it for years my sisters told me they looked it up and one of my videos had almost 600 views (when I left it I don’t remember having even 100). When I started high school, I thought I wanted to be an actor, move to New York and perform on Broadway. Hearing a couple people tell me “No” and dealing with a few scams along with the stress of high school and friendships or relationships broke my spirits.
After a few years, I realized I the last picture I had taken of myself was years outdated and I didn’t like to look at myself in the mirror anymore. What had happened in the last two years of high school? A lot happened, my best (and basically only) friend moved 45 – minutes away and when you can’t legally drive yet it seems like the end of the world. I was forcing myself into a relationship that wasn’t right for me while lying to myself about it. And probably the biggest trauma of them all was when my dad passed away halfway through Junior years, literally the week of finals and a couple weeks from Christmas. I decided to do homeschooling the rest of the year because my mom already homeschooled my siblings, but I didn’t really learn anything that spring. I hung out with girls who seemed to like me, and I could tolerate but really, I was just bitter about my friend who moved. Then right when summer hit, a week after our first anniversary my boyfriend broke up with me, and although I drug it out and made it harder than it needed to be it was the best decision for both of us.
Then I went wild, I had always been the goodie two shoes and would never expect myself to go to a high school party, but I did, and I hung out with people I could never imagine. After making my fair share of bad teenage mistakes I connected with someone I had kind of always known, he worked with me at a grocery store. The first night we hung out, I didn’t go home and that’s basically how the rest of the last three years has been. We were couch serving at my moms the next summer, something neither of us imagined, but it pushed us to get an apartment together. That was the first big adult decision we both made, we signed the lease the day after my eighteenth birthday.
Now I have everything in life I could ever need or want, but I got sucked into another soul-sucking job, the managers wanted me to train and be a leader (they got paid a lot more) and at first, it sounded great! That was also the same time I started college and stopped taking anxiety medication, meaning that all didn’t work out. I cried at 3 in the morning before having to go to work and almost quit but decided to just step down, I should have just quit. For the next six or so months I convinced myself that working five days a week for a little over 200 dollars a day and trying to get school done as well was enough for me. 2020 rolls around and we all know how 2020 has been treating everybody, I started full time at college and was only doing 5am shifts and I guess life just started getting to me. I abandoned my job (again), and I allowed my anxiety to completely change my life (again). Some would say I had an emotional breakdown, I say my body took over for what my mind didn’t feel strong enough to do.
I asked myself, is this what the rest of my life is going to be? Working for minimum wage, devoting hours and hours of my life to someone else’s business. You have to understand I probably get this from my dad, he always said he wanted to be his own boss and eventually he did become his own boss of a carpet cleaning company (Absolute Best Cleaners), he even had employees. I can’t imagine trying to own a business while providing for five children and a spouse, and all of a sudden, a lot more of my childhood made sense. I don’t know what happened this year, but things have just started to click, I am finally starting to understand myself and what I want. The whole theory behind me wanting to become an actress when I was in high school was that I like to tell stories, I like understanding who the people are in stories and my imagination is so strong I make up stories in my head all the time (not always good ones, maybe crazy ones, but hey girls got imagination).
I decided this is my life and I don’t have to work till I hate my life, granted I had just gotten my taxes and financial aid money for school, so I was feeling pretty invincible with more money in my account than ever. I decided school is more important than some crappy job and worst case I can go get a different crappy job, then an international pandemic occurred, and I was forced to sit in my house and reflect on basically my entire life. How could I literally have quit my grocery store job right before I could have gotten a $2 raise and so much overtime!
I had to stop myself, isn’t that the problem? I didn’t want to just work mindlessly for a raise, I wanted purpose. In my English class this semester I had to do a big research paper and I decided to question does suffering make us strong? And Boy did I get the answer of a lifetime, in trying to answer that hard question I read, listened to, and watched so much content on everything from growth mindset to intrinsic and extrinsic benefits and even how these theories apply to business. I delved into the psychology of why I always run away from things and do what I feel is bad choices, and through all of this, I discovered my passion, motivation, and drive.
For the first time in a long time, I feel a fire burning inside my soul and it feels like it has caught a gust of wind and doubled in size. Within the last month or so I have learned to let go at least a little bit to let the fire burn bright enough to light my way. In the past, when I have tried to put out this fire incessantly with fear it did nothing but stifle my creativity, my voice, and my confidence. I reconnected with my best friend and felt the love we have for each other and I have sparked my childhood interests like entrepreneurship and even YouTube funny enough. But most importantly I am learning to let go of the fear that held me in place for so long.
I am not going to enter my second decade of life too scared to do all the things I dream of, because the simple fact is if I can’t even believe in myself no one will. I want to own my own business, make my own money and not just make money for someone else’s company, and I want to be passionate about what I do. So, I am trying, I am believing that the universe will give me exactly what I need and when I need it, and I am finally doing what I truly love: creating.

Copyright © 2020 Serra Isabella. All rights reserved.