Beginning my time at Blair virtually was very weird even though I had been virtual at my old school the previous spring. I was a new sophomore from Korea, and due to the pandemic, I had to stay in Korea for virtual learning through the whole fall and winter.
Despite being new to Blair, I had to witness the previously unusual class conditions of different students in separate squares and teachers struggling to present their screens. Different from traditional classroom and whiteboard styles, taking classes at home during the fall term was a completely new and unforgettable experience.
Challenges were faced on the first day of school when I had to introduce myself and say hi to a bunch of unknown peers through a screen. Many difficulties arose since taking virtual classes wasn’t something that I was accustomed to: due to the distance, it was hard to focus and concentrate in class; some had to unmute themselves after awkwardly realizing that they were muted; some teachers had some technical problems that meant virtual students couldn’t join the Meet.
On the other hand, in the course of virtual learning during the fall term, concerns about COVID were lessened. Our family’s endless discussion about going to school during COVID finally ended with the decision that I would be staying in Korea for virtual learning instead of being on campus. Although it was difficult meeting new people through a screen and listening to class virtually, I would be safe at home staying with my family.
There wasn’t a huge difference in terms of being able to absorb materials from class and following along despite the distance. I didn’t have any difficulties taking and submitting tests virtually, and it was also easier to see the screen than in a normal classroom.
One thing that stood out to me was the class recordings that I could watch anytime I was absent or when I had problems understanding the material and wanted to see the lesson again. If it was something hard to understand, I would rewatch and repeat the relevant part of the explanation and it helped me better understand more. Though I was not fully blended into the community, screens made me a part of Blair even though I was far away.
Virtual learning provided more time and space for students to get rest or work on other assignments between classes. Sleeping more, spending time with family, and doing other things that we cannot do at Blair happened at home.
After virtual learning in the fall, I came to the Blair campus for the first time in the spring. Everything from the COVID test to the process of unpacking in a new dorm was all new and weird. I started going to the classrooms that I had previously only seen through screens and started to be a part of the community with my peers. Taking classes in a new environment took some time to get used to, but absorbing class materials and blending with peers wasn’t hard; I quickly adjusted to my new environment. It definitely took some time to get adjusted to a new school environment, but I am doing my best as a full-time part of the Blair community.