Happy June everyone! I’m currently blogging from Norfolk, Virginia where I am in the midst of online Arabic classes, and a study-filled summer with school, Language Partner meetings, tutoring sessions, Program coordinators, professors, and (of course) homework. Pros of online classes in the summer include that they can be done from the comfort of your own home. Cons of online classes include that sometimes it is difficult to be inside and sitting in front of a computer all day, especially when the weather is beautiful.
I find balancing online classes and course loads are almost harder than in person obligations because your brain is being exercised all day, while your body is stagnant. With the pandemic, society began to shed a light on mental health and prioritizing self care in a practical ways by incorporating small “wins” into everyday life.
This summer my small wins have been squeezing in YouTube workout videos before and after my 4 to 6 hour sessions of online classes, playing with pets in between my 5 minute computer breaks, and trying my best to stay off the computer and in front of a screen when I don’t have to. I’m the only student in my current online language program level so when I’m in class, tutoring sessions, or meeting a language partner it requires 100% of my attention. To balance being plugged in and continuously staring at a screen all day, I’ve been enjoying the silence of walking my sister’s dog after class or meditating, and trying to get as much sleep as possible.
I typically get tired by the end of the day from studying so I look forward to good food, exercising, and hitting a hot yoga or spin class to decompress. My day consists of opposites: only working my brain, then only working my body. While I would prefer more variation in my routine, right now this is what’s working for me with my current schedule.
In addition to classes I’ve been keeping up with behind the scenes work for Orientation Team and Student Court. I’ve been trying to squeeze in reading, watching new movies on Disney + (like Luca and Raya and the Last Dragon), doing face masks, taking salt baths, sun bathing by the pool, walks on the beach, and other fun ways to decompress like listening to music and doing yoga. BUT, sometimes I’m exhausted from classes and I don’t have the energy to do much but sleep after a long day, and that’s okay too because when I’m tired it’s my body telling me I need rest, even if I haven’t done much physical activity.
I’ve found when my routine changes semi-drastically (cue the intensive summer language program), my go-to ways to decompress can sometimes feel more like things on a to-do list than actual time to relax. Relaxing can look different in different phases of your life, and even day-to-day, hour-to-hour, or minute-to-minute. Recognizing and checking in with where your body and mind are at, in order to know what you need is extremely important because it is always changing! Sometimes our go-to activities become more “things we have to do” and less so “the ways we decompress”.
I’m at a changing phase of my life, so I’m still figuring out how to navigate decompressing from being constantly plugged into my computer and my phone all day. Using technology to communicate with my teachers, tutors, language partners, program coordinators, AND everyday life and school obligations (not to mention keeping in contact with friends and family which typically happens mostly online) is challenging, but the key is balance, which is a process.
Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!