Wake up, try not to disturb Clem (my very nice French roommate), follow the familiar path to the bathroom. On highly productive days go to the gym at 7am with some friends, or on less productive days, struggle to get out of bed in time for 9am class. Productive or not-so productive, nearly every day I get ready, grab a coffee from 1965, and leave Hult House.
Some days are super sunny, or very windy, snowing, or even raining. That’s the thing about Boston weather—it’s unpredictable and it’s always good to have an umbrella nearby. When you finally get to class, you say hi to your friends (a few you actually saw before going to bed on the 6th floor dorms just 8 hours ago), scan your finger on the professor’s desk, and talk until the class begins.
Just one reading week later, this became: wake up and sit on the desk—next to my bed. No coffee, no gym, no walk, no weather, no umbrella, no friends. We don’t scan anymore, we tally, we don’t get ready when the slides come on the projector, we log in to zoom.
Our world is forever shifting but I don’t think anyone could have ever expected we would need to adapt to this crash-landing reality in such a fast-tracked time. However, I can say this virtual reality has its advantages and has changed my perspective in many ways. Also, the fact Hult has become so flexible and has adapted almost as fast as the changing tide is simply amazing.
I have learned that building a schedule is important when you’re trapped at home all the time.
Just as Hult has provided new ways to learn and work around situations, I myself have had to find through trial and error a way to keep my life going. If my school was doing their best to keep our education engaging and available from every corner of the world, the least I could do was wake up more than a minute before class and roll out of my bed on to my laptop.
I still try not to disturb Clem when I wake up, but my technique has changed. I now wake up a little earlier, go to the kitchen, make a coffee, make my bed, and listen to music while I get ready. It took me a while to figure out that doing class in pajamas was a no-no; just the fact of putting on some pants can make a huge difference in your day. We all have that distracting friend in class that makes us laugh at the expense of not paying attention; well online “distracted” doesn’t even cover it, since no matter how hard you laugh no one will scold you for it, the magic and curse of being on mute.
It’s interesting how friendships develop in a virtual world. Being close to someone while being so far away makes you appreciate those moments you’ve been through together even more. Late-night study sessions filled with laughter and a little procrastination. Seeing them on Zoom screen takes a little out of the moment, but it does strengthen the bond you share. Because you know the next time you see them, those times will mean way more than before, due to how easily you might lose them.
Being close to someone while being so far away makes you appreciate those moments you’ve been through together even more.
Once you really settle into a routine and understand what best works for you, online classes are actually great. Having a hybrid reality allows for a smooth class even if you are online, and the fact professors record lectures for you to watch later is a great asset to have before taking an exam.
This Limitless Learning technology Hult has put into all the classrooms is really cool. When I’m in an online class, I feel like I’m on campus—you can see the professor move around, you can hear what’s going on, and participate. Of course, it comes with its challenges. Before the pandemic, team meetings at 5pm actually happened at 5pm. Now I found that even living a thousand miles away, my life is still determined by Boston time. And that 5pm might be 8pm for one person and 5am for another.
Learning how to read gestures is also the new form of “chit chat” in class. When something happens or someone makes a comment, you end up looking for the exact zoom square where you know there will be a reaction. Becoming socially engaged through a lens can be quite tricky, but it is possible. This experience has helped me understand that it is just the same, and that anxiety of the camera or feeling watched will just overwhelm you if you let it.
I have learned that we learn more when we are faced with circumstances we can’t control.
Since the virtual term started, I have been in awe of how many events pop up on my notifications every day, how first years make friends online, and build up excitement for when they’ll finally be able to meet. The rigor and passion behind the planning and organizing of every single club being is truly amazing. For instance, the Hult Student Association organized Saturday night events for us, so Saturday night you can watch movies with friends from different continents by tuning in at the same time together.
The current reality of being at Hult now is obviously different from being on campus, but I do feel lucky to attend a school that even a thousand miles away still makes you feel right at home. I can say that even though the world is very uncertain right now, one thing I know for sure is my academic experience is going from strength to strength and improving day by day.