Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

Isolation, creation, and willpower: My journey transitioning to online classes

Kaitlyn Garrison ’21, here finding a quote for her philosophy class, completes the spring 2020 semester from home.

This spring will be remembered as one of the strangest, scariest, and most creative times for me and my fellow classmates due to the coronavirus outbreak. It felt surreal when the university announced the school was closing and everyone was ordered to go home. My favorite restaurants began to close (or offer alternative options), friends were forced to find flights home, and the little town of Redlands grew eerily quiet. Thinking I was about to have a lot more time on my hands, I set out to make plans for accomplishing all I had been dreaming of doing for a very long time.

The biggest challenge with the transition to online-based learning was that I didn’t expect my life to become busier than it was before. I receive a little over 50 emails each day from teachers, classmates, and other critical contacts on top of my regular class assignments. Because of this, it is difficult to prioritize my time.

To put things simply, everything is stressful and uncertain. But, as my friend Tyler Kersten ’21 says, “There is a silver lining to it all. I wake up, I get ready as though I were going to school, and I try to fill my day with activities such as exercise, gardening, writing, homework assignments, the occasional phone call, among other things I haven’t been able to do for a long while.”

Tyler and I continued living in Redlands after the lockdown was announced. Living with someone I know from college maintains a sense of normalcy, and we make the best of things by tackling new projects together. After all classes were transitioned online, we found many new hiking trails, began a garden, and even took up long-distance biking. “As I drive through town on the way to our next trail, town seems smaller, especially when I drive by campus. What would usually be filled with parked cars and fellow students walking all over is like a ghost town now,” she reflects.

My ornithology class, taught by Professor Tim Krantz, inspired me to be outside in nature each day to observe birds. Instead of canceling the field labs completely, Krantz assigned students to continue birding out in nature individually, while maintaining a safe distance from other people. Instead of in-person classes, we congregate via Webex at our usual class times and exams are sent through Moodle.

In an ornithology class, students continue birding out in nature while maintaining a safe distance from other people.

Contemporary Moral Issues, taught by Professor Kathie Jenni, and Classical Political Thought, taught by Professor Chris Rocco, are both philosophical courses that tackle important concepts of society and morality. These classes provide me with ample reading material that I usually accompany with some warm tea, especially on rainy days here in Redlands. Whenever I find myself feeling restless inside, these classes allow me to get lost in a book and discover wisdom about myself and the world.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, my Foreign Film seminar classmates and I were already going through the grief of having our teacher, Ralph Angel, pass away suddenly. Our new teacher, Ross Conkey, only taught one class before all in-person classes were canceled. In light of these unfortunate events, I found that getting ahead with assigned classwork in the beginning of the quarantine greatly helped the transition toward a slower and more relaxed lifestyle. For this class, I watched foreign movies, including City of God and Persepolis, responding to them in my preferred creative medium.

This moment in history will not be forgotten for a long time, and it is testing the willpower of each individual to endure each day in good spirits. For now, safely going outside into nature, starting a new hobby, enjoying each moment, and appreciating all that we have is imperative for surviving this new lifestyle.

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