One of my cousins had a baby, Eiffel, in March of 2020. Everyone in our family calls her the “COVID Baby”. She’s two years old now and still reaches to grab your mouth when being held because for her, masks aren’t weird, mouths are. As someone who doesn’t understand the supposed lure of children, I always tell my mom, “Kids like that are going to be so messed up.” The truth though, is that as my midterms are quickly approaching, I am beginning to consider myself as a bit of a COVID baby as well.
I “graduated” high school in May of 2020. This means that instead of going out into the big and scary Real World, I opened up a laptop in the same bedroom I grew up in. My entire first year of college was online. I took 26 credits and still had time to workout, see friends when possible, go to art class, and complain to my parents that I was bored. Although my sophomore year was in person, COVID still permeated the environment. Most of my classes had the option to be online, so most students didn’t bother coming to class. Tests were online and therefore open book because it was easier for professors to let all of us use our notes instead of trying to set the curve when some people were cheating and some weren’t.
Now here I am, as a Junior, in Europe. A country that wasn’t permeated with argumentation and citizens who weren’t pitted against each other like an elementary school game of tug-o-war. Ninety-eight percent of the population is vaccinated, and there are close to no cases of COVID on the daily. This means there’s absolutely no reason to have classes – or tests, online.
It’s nearing the end of October now which means midterms are forefront in my mind, truly the only thing I’ve been thinking about the past few weeks. I don’t remember them ever being this panic-inducing in previous years, but now I feel like no time is enough to get all of this content in my brain. My usual flawless time blocking on Google Calendar ability has become confused. What is the minimum of time I must spend sitting at a table studying material, is there a maximum?
My other friends from abroad are no help in being role models for studying. Most of them are taking general education classes and therefore have been out of town every weekend leading up to my midterm dates. I had problems with my academic advisor and since I’m working towards three degrees, it was integral for me to take hard classes here. So I sit in a cafe, reworking problem sets, and take breaks to scroll through Instagram to see their pictures from Italy, France, and Switzerland.
I continue to do these problem sets, yet I’m not sure if this is the best way to study. It’s becoming alarmingly apparent that I actually don’t know how to study. I can sit and read my study sheets and redo the problem sets a million times, but I am still completing them unknowingly. Ignorant if it all will help me when the professor sets the exam down on my desk Monday at 9am.
It’s like I’m Eiffel, reaching for the mouth because it’s some strange thing I’ve never seen before. Except in this case, I’m grasping for anything that contains any kind of semblance of productivity.
My elementary soccer coach used to tell us, “Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes progress.” Either way, practice is constantly glorified. And here I am as a junior in college, vying for a perfect GPA, yet not having practiced a real or important exam since December of my senior year, three years ago.
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