• Indira Mishra

COLLEGE LIFE IN COVID TIMES (A parody)

Updated: Jul 20

Life has changed quite a lot after COVID-19 came into our lives and ravaged our colleges, universities, schools and other systems requiring mass gatherings.

Of course there is no activity as such that has absolutely stopped, barring― the income of the migrant workers; U.P. Police’s encounter authenticity and the courtesy of the Nepalese Prime Minister, they have taken different forms and modes.

Women still hold virtual kitty-parties, tailors still take orders, the markets still open at scheduled times etc. Life is still going on amid the health crisis though the pace has changed to a large extent.

Faculty of Engineering and Technology, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, India

In the midst of this slowdown of our lives, there is one thing I would like to draw your attention to:-

It is ―How students are leading their academic lives during lock down”.

I, being a university student, would try my best to paint an apt and closest to reality picture of how our college lives have taken on a virtual avatar.


So, here I present you with a burlesque of the “Virtual College Life”.

The LED screens have become our sole methods of survival these days. We study through the screens, we attend labs on screens, we meet our friends through the screens etc. Our colleges and schools have pretty much shifted completely to the virtual world.

As millennials, I would not deny that many of us were already accustomed to leading virtual lives on social media but this complete shift of our lives to the virtual world is quite a blow even to us.

During ordinary college days, it was normal for a person to miss a class for it was either too boring or they could not get up on time when the class started but now the situation has rather changed. Technology enables us to log in to a class, turn off the camera and catch up on some of the last night’s sleep while still being officially present in the class.

Also hand written notes have been greatly replaces by digital notes and PDFs with the former being much more effective in helping us memorise and understand a topic better.


Earlier, college used to be confined to college timings and breaks actually felt like breaks.

During classes we would be involved in frantic note taking process and in the breaks we would prepare for the practicals but now, this practice has become extinct altogether.

Connectivity issues sometimes force the professors to take classes whenever they find it possible notwithstanding it being a Sunday or a Monday which results in a lack of consistency in students' subconscious minds.

There prevails a perpetual sense of either being too busy or completely useless. There are no middle grounds anywhere in sight.

Earlier, we used to award ourselves with mass “class bunks” after attending classes and labs tirelessly for a long time to provide us with some respite from our burdening schedules but these days, we attend classes as a refuge from the fun we’ve had all day long.

Also, physical activity, for many of us, has come to a stand still even after the government’s repeated reminders to exercise regularly and keep our machinery well oiled. The enthusiastic exchanges in the sports stadium and grounds have converted to online gaming sessions which instead of relieving the stress (which is signature of the games involving a lot of physical activity), stress us out even more.

Faisal Kawoosa, founder & chief analyst TechArc says, “the biggest trend in gaming is that multiplayer gaming has started to pick up. Earlier only PUBG like game was encouraging multiplayer mode, now employees, friends etc are connecting remotely even for playing games like Ludo. People are looking at games to socialize and connect during this time.”


Earlier, the college used to be confined to college timings and breaks actually felt like breaks. Now, connectivity issues sometimes force the professors to take classes whenever they find it possible notwithstanding it being a Sunday or a Monday which results in a lack of consistency in students' subconscious minds.


During the non-Covid-19 college days, the days would be so busy that we wouldn’t get time even to catch up on the breakfast daily.

It was just ― “Wake up, brush, change into work clothes and teleport to college” but now, like the other things mentioned above, this situation has completely reversed as well. These days the food consumed in a day doesn’t even get used up completely, let alone get short.

Also the long conversations during nights in the dorm, coupled with the sharing of snacks have converted to late night phone calls sans the "snack-sharing" factor.


ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE

I remember,

whenever there would be a birthday party in college it would start with all the friends fretting about the party preparations― some handling the decorations, some deciding on the size and type of the cake, some blowing their lungs out while blowing the balloons etc.

All without the knowledge of that person.

Then at midnight, the surprise would be given to the person. They would first blow the candles, cut the cake and then the cake would be smeared all over them, the friends and the party. Then there will be a games session (mostly, Truth and Dare or Never Have I ever).


Now, in the wake of the lockdown, the whole event has taken the form of an emoji splurge, virtual wishes and video calls.

This sudden transition feels very weird as none of us were prepared for a time like this. Those celebrations were taken for granted so much that people sometimes could also have the audacity to find flaws in them.

As of now, we are no longer left with a

choice.


THE ART OF MAKING OTHER’S WORK LOOK YOURS

This time has also prompted the technosavy students to get to the zenith of their game and basically do nothing the whole semester and still be able to pass with flying colors.

They have found the formula to crack the ―“digital assignments”.

You can easily get away with presenting someone else’s work as your own by making some changes here and there, enhancing the diagrams and charts and changing the cover page completely. They have mastered the art of -“Making other’s work look authentically yours".

Then there is the fact that during the days when exams were held in the respective institutes, cheating wasn’t as easy as it is now.

Then, we studied before exams at least. Now with the “Digital exams”, due to their widespread loopholes, this requirement does not exist any longer in a lot of instances.

In the digital exams, it is easy to cheat― through background chats and calls, using the internet on another device, opening a book alongside a test etc.

THE EXCESS DIGITIZATION DEMERIT


The mandatory experiments to be performed in the laboratories have reduced to watching pre-recorded videos of others performing it which beats the sole purpose of laboratory work. The reason these things are prescribed in the syllabus is to enhance the cognitive ability of students by making them―“learn by doing” which doesn't happen when we merely watch the pre-recorded videos.

Workshops, seminars, conferences etc. all of the interaction enhancing sessions have metamorphosed into video conferences.

The rampant use of digital mode of information transmission is starting to make everything feel the same. Neither the classes have their sanctity left nor the after class discussions and fun with friends feels refreshing anymore.

And the fatigue these screens cause to the eyes is a different story altogether.


There comes a time when all the video content and virtual activity feels mundane and similar.

This kind of unwelcome uniformity sometimes, instead of helping individuals to push their limits further, contains them― as the excess of these content stops making any difference anymore.


SOURCES

1. The Economic Times

2. Study Right

3. The Telegraph

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