UMass Students try to keep busy at home and adjust to online classes

Students had their first week of remote learning


Patrick Kline

(Patrick Kline/ Amherst Wire)

AMHERST—On Monday, March 23, UMass Amherst students started their online classes. Governor Charlie Baker made the “Stay at Home” advisory announcement that went into effect on Tuesday, March 24 at noon for non-essential workers, which fully establishes as a quarantine for most Massachusetts residents.

Sophomore economics and geography double-major Helen Sajo is one of many students that have been in quarantine since UMass went on spring break a week prior. “[I have been] pretty ok, considering I have been self-quarantining since coming home from UMass. I’ve been bored because I cannot hang out with friends,” said Sajo.

Similarly, sophomore animal science and journalism double-major Jasmine Nelson said, “I hate not being able to see people.” She continued to say, “It’s not that I hung out with people all the time, but now that I can’t, it’s all I want to do.” 

Being in quarantine for almost over two weeks, many students are finding ways to keep themselves busy. Amanda Batura, a sophomore industrial engineering major, said, “I admit to playing a lot of video games, Animal Crossing; New Horizons came out recently and honestly whenever I am not doing schoolwork I have been playing that a lot.”

Batura also said she plays card games with her family and has chatted with the UMass Anime club on Discord, where they’ve hosted club meetings. Batura says it’s been, “a nice time to socialize with people that are not my family.”

Others like Sajo have been binging many shows on Hulu (and is starting to run out) while also going on walks, doing at-home workouts, and FaceTiming with friends.

Although students have to keep themselves busy, it does not mean that it has been easy. Nelson said that the hardest part of quarantine has been “trying to readjust to home life with the added stress and worry.” 

Sajo mentioned the hardest part, “As an extrovert, it’s been extra difficult, especially with my birthday being a few days ago and I couldn’t even go out to dinner (with the Massachusetts lockdown).” She continued to say, “I also lost my two jobs which were at UMass, so I’m out of a job with no disaster pay.”

With the start of online classes, professors have taken different approaches as to how their class will continue remotely. Whether it be Zoom calls for lectures, recorded lectures, Moodle assignments, OWL homework, etc. faculty have come up with last-minute solutions to continue their classes. 

“I hate how it is so disorganized. If I took a class that was intended to be online, I’m sure it would be fine,” said Nelson. “But the professors did not have enough time to get everything set up, and the students haven’t been given enough time to readjust and figure everything out. Break should have been extended one week so everyone could get ready for this huge change.”

Batura said her experience has been stressful so far. “I am a pretty organized person but even I feel like a chicken with my head cut off trying to adjust to all this,” she said.

She also mentioned that her classes have many unknowns. “I just found out today that I have a quiz for my calc class I have to do in WebAssign by Friday because this is how they are doing the discussion quizzes now,” said Batura.

She continues to say, “I don’t even know how my exams are going to be taken for my two math classes (233 and 235). I know that this remote learning is a tough thing for all departments to navigate so I am trying to be respectful as I can but my anxiety and tendency to plan everything is not coping very well with it all.”

Students have also expressed that they have felt that some of their professors just do not care anymore. Sarah Yurczak, a sociology and education double major said, “I have teachers who are giving us so many details and emailing me every day. However, in one of my classes, I just haven’t heard anything except for lectures will be uploaded once a week and a homework assignment being canceled.” 

Sophomore nutrition and Spanish double-major Carolyne Elias expressed how one of her classes had complications with Zoom. Instead of a normal 55-minute class, the class took three-and-a-half hours because “The sound kept being interrupted for everyone (this wasn’t just my laptop or anything) and Zoom kept kicking my teacher out of the meeting for some reason.” Even though it was a one-time issue, it was during exam prep for Elias.

Although UMass students have completed the first week of remote learning, they still have to navigate five more weeks in the spring semester. 

Email Nicole at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @NicoleBiagoni_

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