After two years of virtual learning, we became accustomed to conversing with professors and peers on our screens and only spending time with a small circle of colleagues. Although we were excited to return to campus this fall, many of us also understandably suffered from anxiety due to the transition back to in-person learning and acclimatizing to campus life–a few of us for the first time.
Below are my observations and tips that might help you to open up to friends and TMU staff about any lingering back-to-school anxiety this term.
Put Yourself Out There!
After years of online learning, it is still tough for students to engage with others in a real-life setting. Last term you may have noticed that you forgot a few strategies that you once used to make friends. As such, I suggest that you get out of your comfort zone and initiate conversations with students who you have never met.
For example, when you are in class this Winter Term, you could try saying “hi” to the student sitting next to you. While it is true that not everyone will be open to talking to a stranger, if you open up and start a conversation, it is more likely that they will open up. Who knows, they could end up being your best friend! Even if they don’t reciprocate, you don’t lose anything–and you help to foster a positive learning environment. We still likely feel a bit off-kilter about the return to in-person learning, so be gentle and friendly–but also open up!
Create a schedule
Learning online was convenient for students as we didn’t have to get dressed and physically attend classes. Returning to in-person learning forced us to consider our commuting times. During the Fall Term we had to physically attend lectures and hangout with friends, and so it became critical to plan our days.
If you have not already done so, consider using an agenda. It doesn’t need to be fancy; you just have to organize your days in advance in order to get to lectures on time. Utilizing an agenda not only provides mental comfort and stability, but also helps you to balance your life while also highlighting your priorities–particularly during the exam period.
As we prepare for another semester of in-person learning, you should be yourself. If you don’t feel like socializing too much, there is no need to do so. If you feel like being spontaneous, be spontaneous! If you don’t feel like hanging out with friends, there is no need to do so!
However, do make sure that you have people around who you are comfortable speaking up about your feelings. Talk about in-person campus anxieties that may still linger on with friends and discuss strategies that you could use to support one another. Most importantly, reach out for help on campus when you need support.
Hope you are staying well with in-person learning and are ready to show your true self to others during the Winter Term!