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BWW Blog: Thoughts On My First Week of School

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This year, the first week was unique, to say the very least.

BWW Blog: Thoughts On My First Week of School

I tend to see the first week of school as a preview of what the semester has to offer. It is when you first get an idea of what your classes will be like and really sets the tone for what is to come. This year, the first week was unique, to say the very least. While a few lucky people get to have a couple classes in person, my entire semester will be completed online. However, as first weeks go, it definitely could have been worse. I'm not thrilled about the digital format, but I think that there will be some good things that can come out of it.

On the very first day of the new semester, I had no scheduled classes. It was one of the weirdest transitions into a new school year that I could have imagined. It barely felt like the first day of school. Technically, for me, it didn't have to be. I reread all the syllabi and went over my to-do lists anyways, but it was very strange to watch a bunch of prerecorded introduction videos instead of going to class. My two Zoom classes later on in the week helped make things feel a little more normal. Even though we weren't physically together, at least we got to interact in real time. We did have a theatre department meeting over Zoom as well. One of the professors was playing music to avoid the awkward silence as we waited for people to join, and in true theatre kid fashion, it turned into a dance party. I never thought I'd be hoping to have more Zoom meetings, but this gave me such a boost of energy. I hadn't realized how much I missed seeing people's faces and actually talking to people out loud. It gave me hope that even though I'm online this semester, we can still have that sense of community, and I'm really looking forward to these meetings each week.

There are several pros and cons to mostly asynchronous learning. As almost anyone who knows me will tell you, I am not a morning person. I do not like to get up early and I do not want to be rushed in the morning. I can do it if I have to but given the choice I'd rather not. Because I only have two scheduled classes and the earliest is at 11 am, I don't have to this semester. It's been really nice to skip stressing about getting to school on time and to replace it with enjoying a cup of tea and gradually warming up to the day. I'm still getting up a little earlier than I would during the summer, but the transition isn't as harsh. I also was able to stop working on schoolwork early a couple days to give myself time to work on my callback. There are some perks to creating your own schedule. However, one of the drawbacks is that you have to create your own schedule. Obviously, it was easy to schedule my synchronous Zoom classes, but managing everything else was harder than I expected. With the exception of one class, everything is due at the same time every week, so I couldn't use due dates to guide my decisions. I didn't end up sticking to the schedule I made at the start of the week, but that's okay. It's probably going to take a couple weeks to figure out how much time each class is going to take and determine when to work on everything. It's a work in progress, but eventually I'll figure it out.

For most people, the first week back is about more than just academics, and I found that was still true. Everyone in our department made it through our first set of virtual auditions (done through a combination of self-tapes and Zoom). Surprisingly, it didn't feel that much different than regular auditions. Yes, there is the love/hate relationship with being able to watch and redo a self-tape, and it took a little trial and error to find the best background and lighting, but the basic principles were the same. The professors were also very understanding of the fact that everyone was just doing the best they could with what they had. Other than auditions, one of the typical markers of the first week is meeting new people and reuniting with friends. While we couldn't do that in person, we still had a virtual game night and a party over Zoom. It was a really nice way to start to get to know all the new freshman in the theatre department and to spend some time with the rest of my friends as well. It wasn't an ideal situation, but it was still fun. In the non-virtual realm, my roommates and I made sure to treat ourselves to ice cream to celebrate the first week. In addition to being a fun outing, it was just nice to go outside and see something other than the walls of our apartment. Hopefully we'll be able to go on more walks and hikes as the semester continues.

Overall, I had a good first week back to school. Being fully online will definitely take a little getting used to and I don't think I will ever prefer it to in person classes. I miss being on campus, I miss seeing my friends and professors, and I even miss the structure that scheduled classes provide. However, I'm trying to give myself grace as I adjust to a new way of learning. I think it's also important to attempt to find the positive in all of this. Quiet mornings staring out the window as I eat my breakfast. Regular check ins with my roommates throughout the day. Classmates and professors who are trying really hard to bring us all together, even if it has to be done through Zoom. This year will certainly have its frustrations and limitations, but I'm doing my best to remember that even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Laura Johnson