GRAPHIC BY ELIZA BROWN
As school has gone on, I have seen multiple friends of mine decide to switch to fully remote. Although I have considered following in their footsteps, there are some aspects of the hybrid model that are just too valuable to pass up. Everyone is different and has different needs, so what is a positive for some might be negative for others.
When I was on the fully remote schedule, I could not help but feel isolated from my peers. Despite seeing people on Zoom for my classes, I somehow felt even more alone. Seeing people in little boxes on screen didn’t really satisfy my need for human interaction and just made me feel even more disconnected. Apart from the brief introduction of everyone at the beginning of the school year, I felt like I didn’t know virtually anything about my classmates. In the hybrid model, I see my friends throughout the day, which has had an even greater positive impact on my mental health than I expected. In most of my remote classes, there is little to no group work, and it is practically impossible to talk to my classmates during class. In my in-person classes, however, I am able to get to know both my classmates and my teachers more easily. I had not realized how much I had missed the classroom environment until I was able to go back to class.
In addition, going in-person was refreshing compared to my Zoom classes. This is partly because I don’t have to constantly see myself and be so aware of how I look. In addition, my teachers are a lot more clear about who they are going to call on and when. I had not realized how much stress those two things in particular had caused me until I was able to go in person again and experience what the normal classroom environment and social dynamics were like. Not only is it less stressful, but it is also absent of breakout rooms! I think almost everyone has had at least one awkward or unpleasant experience in a breakout room. Often, everyone will have their camera off and even if you say something, absolutely no one replies, so you just give up and turn your camera and microphone off. In the majority of my in-person classes, I work with the other people that are also in-person that day. There are no awkward silences or screen-sharing dilemmas.
I had realized that my room had not felt as comfortable as I had remembered while taking remote classes. I would spend all day on Zoom classes in my room, only to shut my computer and have nowhere to go. I now understand my bedroom had become not just my bedroom, but my classroom as well, and I no longer had a place to go that was completely separate from my school work. Being on the hybrid schedule has helped me to distinguish my working space and restore the peaceful environment of my room.
Not only has being on the hybrid schedule helped me feel more balanced, but it has also given me a chance to do something I love to do: get ready in the morning. In my opinion, it is always nice to have a reason to get out of the house and dress up. During quarantine, I have done my fair share of online shopping, and being hybrid has given me the perfect opportunity to be able to put these purchases to use! As comfortable as leggings and sweatpants are, it always feels nice to be able to dress up sometimes, and I’ve found that it has a positive impact on my mental health as well.
I am really glad that I am a part of the hybrid schedule. I think that it has pushed me to go out of my comfort zone, and stray from my regular routine. While remote, I find myself just eating lunch alone, but when I am in person I get to eat lunch with my friends. Not only that, but I have been able to make new friends. I have found that quarantine has been very limited when it comes to making new friends and maintaining existing relationships, mainly because the only people you can really talk to are the ones in your contacts—and even that is challenging. Although I love my friends, it is always nice to branch out and talk to people at school who you may not be familiar with, and I think being in the hybrid model has helped me do that.
Remote has proven itself to be not only beneficial to my learning, but my social life as well. So whether you’re feeling a bit disconnected from your peers or just want a reason to dress up a little, I strongly suggest that you give the in-person schedule a try.