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College Life in The Pandemic's New Normal: Searching for Focus

Madisyn Woodring is a journalism student at Kent State University.

Ohio college students just finished a spring semester that was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. In early March, schools stopped in-person classes and switched to remote learning, upending campus life.

A Kent State University journalism class spent the week after spring break recording diaries about their experience. For Madisyn Woodring, finding motivation to do schoolwork from home was a challenge.

It can be difficult to find the motivation to do online classes at home because it feels like an extended spring break instead of regular school. It’s hard to even motivate yourself to get out of pajamas into regular clothes because getting dressed feels pointless. Yet, now I have more time than ever to finish my assignments.

To fill up the extra hours of free time, I listen to true crime YouTube videos. I’m in one of those moods where I just want to listen to it for some reason. Maybe it's because it makes my life feel like it is not as bad because at least I’m not, you know, dead in a ditch somewhere.

March comes to a close
March was a very long month because time seemed to go by slowly. My last day on campus feels like a much longer time ago than it really was. April is probably going to be the same way as March, so I don’t know why I’m so excited for March to end.

My mom went grocery shopping today and we put everything we wanted on a list. But food does not taste the same for me lately. Being at home makes me not want to eat as much as I normally do, and I am not as hungry anymore.

"This situation becomes more normal for me as time goes on."

April Fools
It's April Fools' Day, and I wish the pandemic was just a joke. My 10-year-old brother had us go on a scavenger hunt around the house for pieces of paper. The end said, "There is no prize. April Fools'." What a great metaphor for life.

My brother also plays a demented version of the Wii music as loud as he can so everyone in the house can hear it. Needless to say, it drives me crazy.

My whole family played a Facebook game where you decide which of your family members has which traits. I was considered most laid back, and my brother was obviously deemed the loudest.

The new normal
For the past few weeks, I spent some of my time writing letters and painting a box for my boyfriend. I do this to keep track of things, and so I can give him something nice when this is over. My sister and I wore the same green shirt and black pants today on accident. We looked eerily similar. Everyone thinks she’s my older sister because she’s taller but she’s five years younger than me.

My dad, my brother and I went on a walk throughout the neighborhood. People were in their driveways with their dogs so it was not the ghost town I expected. The only real difference was the lack of cars driving past us.

I am used to living like this now but during the first week, I was scared because of the rapid changes. This situation becomes more normal for me as time goes on. I’m glad I’ve come to that realization because it’s really the only way you can cope with this.