Heckles

Student exhausted of online lectures
Image: Dasser Kamran/Fulcrum

The nature of remote learning has even made taking a break difficult

On Oct. 26 I woke up, forced myself out of bed after scrolling through my phone for who knows how long, then I grabbed my laptop and crawled back into bed. My cozy – but toxic – routine continued with logging into brightspace and looking at all the work that will remain incomplete simply because it feels like I have no reason to do it. 

The difference was that on that day, it was the beginning of reading week. A break that I always looked forward to, one that allowed me to sleep in, stay home, catch up on both the work I had fallen behind on and my social life. The pause in the semester is not only a way to catch up, but a way to slow down and relax, to exist without school constantly intruding on your day and in your thoughts. In past years, reading week has been the mental reset I’ve needed to tackle the second half of the semester at my best. 

This semester, I don’t even feel like reading week even happened. 

COVID-19 has put a huge damper on the semester, everyone knows that. But online learning has managed to take away the relief that reading week once provided. Yes, there was a break in new course content for the most part. Yet, nothing about reading week felt different than the rest of the semester. 

If I want to sleep in, I’ll sleep in. There’s no reason to leave my bed, my room, or my house if I don’t want to because my classroom is my laptop and it’s available at my convenience. There’s no getting ready for school, there’s no dreading the cold walk to class, and there’s no regretting going to class when you could have caught up on sleep instead. 

Yes, I used reading week to catch up on lectures, but watching a lecture over the break felt no different than watching a lecture any other time. Working on an assignment in the comfort of my own bed was something I was already doing this year. The break I have been waiting for didn’t feel real, and I believe it’s because this whole semester barely feels real. 

Nearly everything to do with school is on my own time now, but that doesn’t make anything any easier. There’s still plenty of content to grind through with readings to read, lectures to watch and deadline after deadline to meet. School is just as overwhelming as it has always been, and without the glorious feeling of rest during reading week, I still feel out of breath heading into the second half of the fall semester.