I never thought I’d find myself missing those slow, gloomy days in Berkeley when I had no classes but was driven by the mission of getting as much homework and studying done as possible in one day.
An excuse to get some exercise and marvel in the beautiful sights of campus, I would head off on the 10-minute walk from my dorm to Doe Library pre-pandemic. I’m not fond of Moffitt Library due to its hectic vibes with students always chatting or rushing around. Being at Doe quieted my impostor syndrome with its grand, intricate ceiling and long hallways. This was the place where I found my sharpest focus, among other busy bees reading their books or taking their notes.
The hurried sound of click clack click clack on some students’ keyboards, an annoying sound at home, was somehow rhythmic encouragement inside the library. After a few hours inside, my tea drowned and mind buzzing from intense focus, I would breathe a sigh of relief upon stepping outside and seeing students relaxing, chatting and enjoying the fresh air on Memorial Glade.
I’ve been reminiscing about the feeling of studying in the library because I’ve come to realize how badly I need a setting like that in my academic life. “Zoom University” has become very isolating because that feeling of suffering (I mean, productivity) in solidarity with other students in the library has been tantamount to my success as a student. That fulfilling feeling of community, unspoken as it was, but felt in the presence of the moment when we’re all sitting together in the library — the same goals, same struggles, same sore butts from sitting for hours — is a necessary part of the college student experience.
Can we recreate this over Zoom? Possibly. I’ve see some students on Facebook asking others if they want to do virtual study dates. They emphasize that they don’t have to talk to each other but just sit and study while being in the virtual presence of their peers. Maybe we should all try Zoom study dates with random people from either our classes or clubs. The beauty of working in silence in the presence of someone unknown is quite understated. However, Zoom fatigue and the sheer awkwardness of Zoom makes me feel that maybe virtual study dates will just give me more memories to cringe about from our time of online classes.
Reminiscing about my study sessions in Doe makes me hopeful for our return to in-person classes in the future. I look forward to feeling, once again, the solidarity with my fellow peers that is difficult to recreate in a virtual setting.