COLUMN: Mamma Mia! Here we go home again

As students make the decision on whether to return to campus after Thanksgiving, they must keep in mind their lives will change no matter what they decide.

Cela Migan is a sophomore journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about daily life for The Maneater.

Once again, campus buzzes with uncertainty as students decide whether to return after Thanksgiving break or in the spring semester. It almost feels like deja vu: receiving the various and sometimes contradicting emails, asking friends about their plans and saying goodbye and packing belongings while the future hangs in question.

MU announced on Nov. 12 that in-person instruction will be replaced by online learning after Thanksgiving. This countered a prior email sent out on Oct. 15. in which they announced in-person instruction would continue after break. The university cited the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the Columbia and Boone County area as the reason for the shift to online learning.

This correlates with the growing number of cases seen across the nation as the United States enters the third wave of the pandemic. Coupled with colder temperatures and flu season, it’s hard to tell what the coming months will hold.

Already in an unorthodox semester, students returning home to continue instruction online are experiencing another abrupt and unplanned end to their semester on campus. Going home after living independently for some months can signal a dramatic change. Although freedom at college looked different this semester than in past years, the change from college to home can still be jarring.

Finals, COVID-19, seasonal depression and other mental health issues and the general unpredictability of life right now amount to an enormous amount of stress for an individual. Take a breath, allow grace and cut some slack.

Either way, life is going to look different. For those who stay on campus, it will be even less populated than normal. Operating hours of facilities may change and no in-person instruction means all classes may be done from the comfort of bed.

For those who will go home, resuming remote online instruction and being restricted to the home may be beneficial or detrimental to academics. Students going back home will still have to adjust to various changes. They will no longer be free to roam campus, but must instead stay home and in their communities.

While a more private bathroom, bedroom and kitchen may be bonuses, leaving new friends after only a brief amount of time can be saddening. For some, home life may be chaotic or noisy and an unsuitable workspace. Students at home don’t have the same access as students on campus to the student unions or Ellis library to go study. As finals approach, navigating studying in a new space and adjusting will be hard for students.

To alleviate stress and prevent burnout, engage in some form of self-care. Self-care is a form of rebellion in its rejection of society’s pressures to constantly be working and productive. Indulging in something for the mind, body and soul preserves one’s self.

Additionally, establish a routine and go through the same motions for work from home as normal work. That means shower, get dressed, eat, and set up hours for productive work. This will trick the brain into going into work mode despite being at home. Multitasking, although perceived to be more efficient, can decrease concentration and quality of work, so use it sparingly.

There are various strategies for adjusting to a new work environment, whether it be at home or in the dorms. Settle into a space that is comfortable and suitable for work. Setting intentions for work is a great way to motivate and start the day right. Try to separate workspace from eating space from leisure space so the brain doesn’t feel it needs to be on 24/7. However, it’s imperative to keep in mind that everything is subject to change and flexibility is essential.

When it is time to rest, rest fully and completely. Burnout is incredibly possible given the circumstances and overwhelming prevalence of stress due to COVID-19. Above all, remember that this is an extraordinary time to be living, and having made it this far is an accomplishment within itself.

In pursuit of racial and social equity, The Maneater encourages its readers to donate to the Trans Student Educational Resources organization. TSER is a youth-led organization whose mission is to educate the public and create a more trans-friendly education system. Donate at: https://transstudent.org/donate/

Edited by Sofi Zeman | szeman@themaneater.com

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