From remote learning to wearing masks in the classroom, there’s no doubt that the past year and a half has been abnormal for students. However, for those on the outside looking in, it may be hard to understand the student experience during the Covid-19 pandemic.
To get their perspective, the LenovoEDU Community recently interviewed students to hear their stories about being a student during the pandemic, their thoughts on remote learning, and a general understanding of what this whole experience has been like for them.
In today’s post, we hear from Lisha Li, a 20-year-old member of the class of 2023 at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in Business Administration and Environmental Studies. Lisha served as an intern with the Lenovo eCommerce team during the summer of 2021.
- Describe your experiences throughout the pandemic: At what point did you switch to remote learning? If you did return to campus in the Spring, when did you return?
I’m sure the pandemic caught all of us in surprise. Spring break of 2020, I canceled my flight to Santa Barbara considering the rising COVID cases on the west coast but never thought I wasn't going back to school for a whole year.
From March of 2020 to Jan 2021, I have been studying remotely. There was a learning curve, but as a tech-savvy teen, it didn’t take too long. I was fortunate enough to have secured an off-campus apartment during the Spring of 2021 to attend the one out of six Hybrid classes (half online, half in-person) I signed up for.
- What did you find most challenging about learning from home?
I would argue that classes were easier remotely. Professors often switch closed-book exams to open-notes knowing students would find a way to bypass the guidelines regardless. In a way, I think this will make returning to school challenging because memorisation is definitely not my strong suit anymore.
However, because of the increased free time due to quarantine, there were countless opportunities that I can take on. So now, time management and burn-out prevention was the biggest challenge for me.
- What did you find most rewarding about learning from home?
I loved the time and location flexibility remote learning provides. I can now do everything whenever I want, wherever I want. It gave me more opportunities to discover things that I am interested in and explore my passion.
- Do you have any interesting stories from your learn from home experience?
I have a Siamese cat that likes to follow people around. She would not hesitate to step on my keyboard at all times. Whenever I forget to close my door, she sneaks in and lays between me and my screen before I know it. She has muted/unmuted me countless times and blocked my camera during group discussions.
- Are you excited to return to in-person learning?
Yes! I miss going to campus, sitting in lecture halls, and having people around me as I learn. In general, in-person learning gave me more fulfillment and makes me think I actually completed something.
- Are there any habits or hobbies that you picked up and you want to keep post-pandemic?
I started working out routinely during the pandemic. Accompanying that, I also learned to cook many delicious healthy meals that will make my next semester away from home much easier.
- How have you stayed connected with friends and family while learning remotely? How have your relationships changed?
Most of my family are in China so video calls have always been our source of communication. However, the pandemic made it much harder to travel, so I haven’t seen them face-to-face for two years now. On the bright side, we’re now planning to have a meet-up in Europe next year since both my cousin and I will be studying abroad there.
Communication between friends had to switch from face-to-face to text or face time. It was a little hard to keep up the relationship, especially during the school year, because everyone was so busy. However, since everyone was in the same boat, it was easy to reconnect with friends after everyone was vaccinated.
- Years from now, what do you think you’re going to remember about 2020-21?
The color that pops in my head thinking back is "quiet green". I am going to remember the time I spent my family house which is heavily shaded (green), the time I spent by myself and with my mom, and the double masks and gloves I wore to every grocery run. It’s a mixture of nervousness (COVID scare) and calmness (self-reflection time every day) that I wouldn’t have experienced if it wasn’t because of the circumstances.
- Anything else you’d like to mention about your experience?
2020-21 was a mixture of bitter and sweet. Although I lost a year of my college life, in return, I had the time to start two entrepreneur ventures – Jellyfish English Lab and JALI Jewelry.
At the same time, I joined multiple consulting projects about IoT, sustainable living, and due diligence and worked with student interns from Stanford and Berkley, which I would have not had if weren't remote.
It was a fruitful year of hands-on learning.
Jellyfish English Lab is a platform that provides Chinese college students with authentic English tutoring services from American college students that focuses on cultural exchange. In the future, we also hope to expand services to face American college students who are interested in learning Chinese. Throughout, I learned to manage an international team, understand consumer needs, and developing classes/events to attract traffic.
JALI Jewelry is a sustainable jewelry brand where I got to practice lots of my graphic design and marketing skills.
Finally, the consulting projects provided me with opportunities to dive deep quickly to learn about multiple industries and solve problems from different angles.
Besides the skills I have learned from experiences, I gained valuable lessons in time management and understanding my strengths and weaknesses.
Stay connected to LenovoEDU Community for more Student Stories highlighting all types of the student experience from all levels. Have a student story that you would like to share? Leave a comment below!