Looking back on a year of online learning

It recently dawned on me that I have spent more time doing university classes online than I have in person. I never thought that online learning in university would even be a thing. I have done my entire second year of Ryerson’s Creative Industries program online. Even one year ago, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought we would be back to normal in a month or two. 

Oh, young first-year Jenna. How naive and hopeful you were. 

I’ll be honest: I don’t love online learning or as I like to call it, Zoom University (totally original, right?). I’ve spent more time staring at a computer screen than I ever thought possible, and I’ve set a record for the amount of days in a row I’ve worn sweatpants. I never want to do another Zoom breakout room or hear the words synchronous and asynchronous ever again. I miss seeing my friends and random classmates every day. I miss walking through campus and I miss the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto. Spending literally hours a day staring at a computer has made me so burnt out, and I look forward to the days where I don’t have to look at my laptop screen for a whole day. I hope to return to in-person learning sometime soon. 

Although, the past year of online learning hasn’t been all bad. I am thankful that I didn’t have to venture outside if the weather wasn’t nice, and that I could eat some great snacks during online lectures. Online school allowed for my schedule to be more flexible, leaving more time for cooking (and sleeping in). Zoom also made it much easier for guest speakers to come to my various classes. We even had drag queen Scarlett Bobo guest lecture in my CRI 400: Entrepreneurship in Creative Industries class, something that I don’t think would have been possible if it weren’t for online classes. 

An image of drag queen Scarlett Bobo on a Zoom call.

A photo I took of Scarlett Bobo during their guest lecture! I was fangirling so hard.

The past year has also allowed me to realize some things personally. I realized the value of taking time off and just relaxing, something I hadn’t done since high school. I realized how much I miss seeing my friends and family on a regular basis, and now I make more efforts to talk to them or hang out virtually. My roommates and I have a weekly Friday night dinner tradition, and I watch a movie with one of my university friends every Saturday over Zoom. I’ve sent cards to my high school friends and my Tri-Mentoring mentee just to say hi! 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m so looking forward to seeing all of my friends in person and getting back to exploring Toronto when it’s safe again. The past year of online learning has made me realize how to prioritize and how to accept and embrace the present. It’s difficult, but don’t bother worrying about things you can’t change. 

This is my last post of the school year (time really does fly when you sit at a computer all day!), and I’m looking forward to spending more time this summer offline and recharging for the next school year, whatever the world has in store for us. 



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