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Signing Off

Natalie Torta, C'24

Hey Mounties! I hope your last few days of finals aren’t weighing on you too heavily. Just two more days to go! As things come to a close on my first year of college, I’ve found myself reflecting on this unprecedented experience of receiving an education amid a global pandemic, especially from a remote perspective.

As much as I hate to start out this way, there were definitely some negatives to remote learning. It posed a pretty significant barrier between me and those in the physical classroom, which created a few issues. First, participation points were incredibly difficult to achieve because I was hearing everything a few seconds after it had already happened. More often than not, when I tried to add to the conversation, I was interrupting another student who had already begun speaking or adding to a topic that the professor was trying to move on from. Zoom definitely makes it hard to pick up on conversational cues.

The second issue arose when we were assigned group work. Normally, I enjoy splitting up work and getting to know other students through group assignments, but my being remote complicated that process. In some cases, I would just opt to work alone because it was easier than trying to coordinate Zoom meetings with two (or more) busy schedules. When I couldn’t work alone, I found myself doing the bulk of the work with no real way to contact my group members other than email, which largely went unopened. It was a tedious and frustrating process to schedule and allocate and reschedule and reallocate – exhausting. Additionally, if there were external materials provided by a professor to complete an assignment (physical office hours, bookstore reading material, project materials), I had to do my best to find a substitution or go without. On the whole, my grades didn’t suffer, but my stress levels were all over the place.

Lastly, I constantly felt like I was missing out on on-campus events. I received all of the emails about crab feasts, outdoor movie nights, and hiking trips, but all I could do was move them to the trash folder. I was having fun at home, but the daily reminders of all the events I couldn’t attend were tough. I also couldn’t see my friends nearly as much as I could when I lived on campus. We studied together over FaceTime and texted often, but it wasn’t the same. I was really, really missing life at the Mount.

There was, however, a bright side to remote learning, too. For starters, I got to spend a lot more time with my family. I have three younger sisters - Valerie in eighth grade, Gillian a high school freshman, and Elaina a high school junior. Over this semester, I’ve had the opportunity to do hair for a middle school dance, help fill out a first job application, and attend more than a few girls’ lacrosse games. It’s been wonderful to get to spend some more time with them and get to know them better. Turns out they’re not entirely detestable, as I had originally hypothesized. We’ve had a lot of fun doing movie nights, bonfires, and spending the day together. I will definitely miss hanging out with them and being there to experience their milestones next semester.

I’ve also had the opportunity to work a part-time job while I take my classes online. As previously mentioned in other blogs, I work at a family-owned candle store near my house and I love the friends I’ve made there. It was definitely a lot of work, though, to maintain my grades with my work schedule. On weekdays, I get up in the morning, attend classes, go to work, and then work on assignments from the time I get home to the time I go to bed. I was exhausted most of the time and I was constantly barely scraping by with making deadlines, but I did it!

I did enjoy my time studying remotely this semester, but I am beyond thrilled to be coming back to campus next semester! I have some pretty interesting classes coming up, I’ll get to see my friends, and I can participate in campus activities. Not to mention, I’ll be getting a serious roommate upgrade (no offense, Elaina). Having the opportunity to blog about my experiences this semester has, in many ways, kept me sane. It wasn’t just the routine of writing a few hundred words every week, though that certainly kept my brain exercised. My theme required me to constantly search for ways in which I was living significantly. Whether it was making bread, searching for a lost pet, of just scraping by to meet due dates, writing about my experiences definitely pushed me to find purpose in everything I did. With the sadness and frustration from all the negatives of remote learning, this helped immensely to improve my mood. Even far away, I felt a little more connected to the Mount when writing these posts.

As strange and different as this past semester has been, my time so far at the Mount has been irreplaceable and I can’t wait to make more memories in the coming years. The opportunity to blog on the My View of MSMU page has been invaluable to maintaining my academic and creative drive over this time. I’ve loved being able to share my stories with you all and I hope that they made you laugh. Good luck with the rest of your finals and, as always, Go Mount!

Natalie Torta, C'24