Of all the things a senior would be busy with in their last few weeks of college, keeping social distance from friends and taking remote online classes are not what comes to mind.
Senior Katarina Holtzapple is a creature of habits, so having a class schedule keeps her to a familiar routine. But she admits that it is still tough coping with the new norm of distance learning and keeping a social distance between friends. It helps that Holtzapple has a younger sister Eleanor, who is a first year student at NYU Abu Dhabi. The siblings have been baking for each other for moral support.
As most of Holtzapple’s classes are discussion-based, remote learning doesn’t feel too different. She does however find it is a lot easier to get distracted in this new classroom setting. So to stay attentive during lectures, Holtzapple started to color to help her mind focus while keeping her hands busy.
Having quick access to snacks during class, as well as having a very short commute from class to a cat nap is a “fun perk” Holtzapple jested.
Read: Distance Learning Through Zoom
You Are Not Alone
Holtzapple is part of REACH — a student-led support group at NYUAD that is focused on maintaining the mental and physical health of the student body. Her team continues to work at this time, and is a great reminder how kindness can still be found in times of difficulties.
The emotional support from her professors and NYUAD staff is also something Holtzapple is grateful for. “My supervisor at the Career Development Center wrote a sweet email to us after our (physical) commencement got canceled, and my professors have all started classes by letting us know we can reach out for whatever reason.”
NYUAD has been coming up with creative ways to continue to engage the community since the pandemic. Online movie screenings, virtual fitness classes, and virtual events help make Holtzapple feel like she could still fill her day with activities she used to do.
Even social gatherings are continuing through virtual platforms. “A friend of mine held his birthday party on Club Penguin, and we all Zoomed in together, which was a blast!” Holtzapple said.
Creative Ways to Stay in Touch
Growing up, Holtzapple moved around a lot and so keeping in touch with her friends and family back home is not something new to her. In fact, with more free time on hand now, scheduling catch-ups is actually a lot easier. She recently found a fun way to connect with her friends: online crossword puzzles. “The Washington Post’s version allows you to share the link with a friend, so I collaborated with friends to virtually complete them. It’s a really fun way to connect.”
It’s a strange time, but I find that I’m adapting as we go along.