Distance learning provides much time for introspection

Friday the 13th, 2020. That day of school before all Fullerton Joint Union High School District schools “temporarily” closed down because of increasing COVID-19 concerns is one that I am unlikely to ever forget.

The night before, I had stayed up all night writing an essay on “Macbeth.” Four cups of coffee and 15 minutes of sleep later, I was on my way to school.

Days like that were not uncommon as my schoolwork and extracurricular activities often left me with little free time. So, when the announcement from principal Allen Whitten told us that we would not be returning to school for three weeks, which included one week of spring break, I had to stop myself from literally cheering out loud.

Although the next year and a half I spent in online learning was challenging at times, it had its benefits.

Distance learning gave me increased control over my schedule, allowing me to work on assignments during my productive periods instead of being forced to do it all during a noisy class period or an irritatingly long Zoom. This development decreased my stress and anxiety about assignment due dates.

Furthermore, doing school from the comfort of my own room eliminated the need to dress “trendy.” Most days my outfits consisted of an old T-shirt and pajama bottoms.

For people like me, who often feel anxious about fitting in at school, online learning drastically improved my social anxiety, as I no longer needed to face any judgement from my peers every morning.

I also noticed that my eating habits started to improve since I could go downstairs in my house to the kitchen and grab a snack or meal whenever I was hungry. In-person school, on the other hand, was often so hectic that I would often have my first meal of the day after school.

Attending school from home also brought me closer to my family. Being home made it easier for me to periodically check in with my loved ones throughout the day.

I understand the argument that in-person learning is better for our mental health because we get healthy social interaction. I too felt isolated when I did not see my friends for months.

However, the benefits of remaining at home gave me a much-needed “vacation” from the harsh realities of everyday life. In the end — though I am glad to be back in the classroom with my friends every day — I look back on the days I spent in quarantine fondly.

Boy am I hungry.