Student View: Starting My Senior Year Virtually

From an article in MSU Today

Ri’An Jackson Looks Ahead to a Semester of Online Classes.

Ri'An Jackson is a senior majoring in journalism in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences and creative writing in the College of Arts and Letters. She is a media and public information intern for University Communications.

When it was announced in March that the remainder of the spring semester was going to be conducted virtually, I wasn’t worried — in fact, I was a little excited.

Before actually having a schedule full of online classes and teleworking, I had a romanticized view of the experience. I envisioned sleeping in, staying in my comfortable bed all day in my favorite pajamas and avoiding the minor annoyances of traveling around campus like walking in the cold, or being unable to find a parking spot.

At the time, I often found myself on edge anticipating what was to come from the incredibly scary pandemic, so enduring online classes for a few weeks seemed palatable. And for the most part, it was.

My grades weren’t affected and my online classes did seem to be a slight relief to my workload. But what I didn’t consider was how lonely virtual classes would be — how much I would begin to crave in-person communication, how the weekends began to feel like weekdays and how much I would miss the sight of friendly squirrels on my way to class or waiting in the endless line at the Starbucks in Wells Hall.

I spent as much time as I could with my roommates and tried to kill time with new hobbies and reading books that I would have never had time to read otherwise — but nothing quite filled the void after I lost my normal routine at MSU.

Needless to say, I saw a light when it was announced that MSU would welcome students back to campus and offer a few in-person classes for the fall semester.

And it was heartbreaking when it was later announced that classes were to be done remotely again.

So, now my days revolve around my computer again. This semester so far has been such a strange experience — confusing, a bit unnerving and very frustrating having to rely so heavily on my sometimes-unreliable internet connection.

But it has also given me a greater appreciation for my Spartan community. We have all been so resilient and creative in trying to navigate this semester. Now that we’ve had time to adapt to a virtual environment, I feel optimistic about the opportunities we have to stay connected. What has brought me peace is the abundance of ways I’ve been able to continue doing some of the things that make me happy at MSU. From attending virtual meetings to student organizations that I adore to finding time to walk around campus (wearing a mask, of course), I am realizing that this semester is truly going to be what I make of it.

I would have never imagined having to spend my last year at MSU under such circumstances, but it’s important to understand that this virtual semester is what is best for the safety of both the Spartan and East Lansing communities. That said, I’m excited to tackle whatever comes my way and enjoy everything I can during my final year.

By RiAn Jackson

Give to the Student Emergency Fund