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A day in the virtual life of a college student

Loyola students are seizing opportunities and making the most of their virtual experience

While I may be at home in New Jersey rather than on the Evergreen campus this semester, a day in my virtual life as a college student is just as busy as it would be on campus.

My Tuesdays and Thursdays are always packed with activity, but I get the chance to catch my breath on the other weekdays when I only have one class to attend. It’s been a learning experience to work and learn from home simultaneously, but I’m grateful that my wealth of opportunities at Loyola is not limited as I learn remotely.

Here’s what a typical Tuesday looks like for me, a junior majoring in writing at Loyola University Maryland.

Digital clock reading 8:30

Rise and shine

My alarm goes off! (It always feels like it’s too early.) I roll out of bed to brush my teeth and do my skincare routine. I also change into comfy clothes for the day, usually sweatpants and a crewneck or sweater.

Digital clock reading 9:00

Breakfast

My favorite easy breakfast is avocado toast on sourdough bread. It tastes best with a squeeze of lemon, Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel seasoning, and pickled onions (missing in action in this photo—because they were pickling).

A slice of avocado toast sitting on a decorative plate Digital clock reading 9:30

Make my iced coffee

Making an iced coffee is the best part of my morning. It gives me the much-needed boost of energy to get the day started and provides a little pocket of joy and normalcy during an unpredictable time. My favorite: iced latte with white chocolate syrup and oat milk.

Iced coffee in a glass jar Digital clock reading 9:45

Prepare for the day

My desk set-up for work and classes includes my laptop, iced coffee, water, pen and highlighter, planner, and a notebook. Before my meetings, I always jot down a list of things to discuss in the notebook, so I don’t forget.

I sip on my iced coffee while preparing for my meeting for one of my internships this semester. Every Tuesday, I meet with my supervisor, Brigid Hamilton, a 2006 graduate of Loyola who works in the University’s office of marketing and communications, for which I am a writing intern. We review changes to pieces I wrote the previous week and set completion goals for the coming weeks.

Overhead shot of a laptop, notebooks, coffee, water bottle, and some pens on a desk Digital clock reading 10:00

Meeting

In our meetings, Brigid and I discuss content planning for the next few weeks, from pitching new written pieces (like this one) to planning social media content such as Tweets or Instagram stories to promote the piece. While my marketing class discussed some of the practices I implement in content creation, applying it to the context of a real brand is much different. From this internship, I’ve expanded my knowledge of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and learned to write following an institutional style guide while balancing my authentic voice with the university’s brand.

Digital clock reading 10:50

Class: Honors Seminar — Politics

I attend my Honors Seminar: Politics course via Zoom. This class is discussion-based, so my peers and I build upon each other’s ideas and offer rebuttals often. Michael Franz, Ph.D., professor of political science, presents thought-provoking questions concerning ethics, morality, or the author’s intentions for the text we are reading before allowing us to make arguments and defend our claims with contextual evidence. We work on these questions as a class, and we’re encouraged to challenge each other’s viewpoints. Dr. Franz often plays devil’s advocate to push students to think critically, and I think his teaching style immerses students deeply into our reading and promotes a more significant understanding.

Screenshot of multiple students attending a virtual lecture on Zoom Digital clock reading 12:05

Lunch

After my politics class ends, I have lunch with my dad. Today we made salads with lettuce, avocado, macaroni pasta, tomatoes, and chicken. (The chicken is just chopped up frozen chicken nuggets because I didn’t have time to fry my own chicken!)

Closeup photo of a chicken salad in a bowl Digital clock reading 1:40

Class: Faith in Film — Apostle’s Creed

This course is one of my favorites. Before our class every Tuesday and Thursday, we watch a new movie for homework and discuss together. Rev. Joseph Rossi, S.J., offers theological insight into the films we watch, even when they don’t appear to overtly be about religion. One of my favorite movies we’ve watched so far is Coco. In this animated film, Fr. Rossi focused on eschatology, the theology concerned with death and the afterlife. He engages us to discuss the differences and similarities between the Christian eschatology and what the Day of the Dead implies about their eschatology. While at the surface this seems to be another light-hearted Disney movie, Fr. Rossi helps us dig deeper as we consider the immortal Christian soul in comparison to the annihilation of the soul for the forgotten in Coco.

Screenshot of a classroom and students virtually attending a class on Zoom Digital clock reading 3:00

Take a break to move and breathe

I take some time away from my desk to exercise. I usually roll out my yoga mat and do 20 to 30 minutes of vinyasa yoga by following a YouTube video. Pre-pandemic, I rarely attended the yoga classes offered at the FAC, and the most exercise I got regularly was running to class! But now I think it’s essential to get up and move, even if only for half an hour.

I used to think I would never have time for yoga or any other exercise between my classes, internships, and social life, but I now realize the importance of making time for myself. Doing yoga allows me to recenter myself, allowing my body and mind to escape from all other responsibilities. The best part is that it’s free!

A laptop with a YouTube video of a yoga lesson sits by a yoga mat Digital clock reading 3:30

Refuel

Since my next class runs until 5:45 p.m., I make a frozen fruit smoothie and grab a snack before my next class.

Digital clock reading 4:30

Class: Writing — Poetics of Social Justice

This is my Poetics of Social Justice course, where we focus on reading and writing poetry that relates to social justice issues.

On Tuesdays, we engage in discussion about the assigned poetry readings. While we study “traditional” poets like Paisley Rekdal, we are also encouraged to observe more nontraditional poets like the hip-hop group Public Enemy and the social undertones of their song, “911 Is a Joke.” On Thursdays, we complete writing exercises meant to stimulate ideas and apply techniques we’ve observed from other poets.

I love our Thursday class particularly because Jane Satterfield, M.F.A., professor of writing, takes us through a mindful moment at the start of class. We focus on deep breathing and then transition to thinking about something we are grateful for or set an intention for the class.

Loyola student Michelle Tran works on her laptop from her home in New Jersey Digital clock reading 6:00

Dinner

Despite my earlier snack and smoothie, I’m still starving by the time dinner rolls around. A homecooked meal from my mom is exactly what I need. While my heart longs for the grilled cheese bar at Boulder and the burrito bowls from Fresh West Sunset, no one makes traditional Vietnamese dishes like my mom.

When we have the time on weekends, we try to expand our culinary and cultural horizons. So far, we’ve made latkes, butter chicken, garlic naan, and paella, so I think we’re becoming pretty international without even leaving the house.

Digital clock reading 6:30

Back to work before day’s end

After cleaning up from dinner, I shower and change into pajamas. I settle in at my desk and finish homework for my one class the following day.

In between doing work, I take short breaks to go on social media and text my friends back. It’s hard to be away from people that I’ve spent the past two years living with, but we stay in touch via text the most—and we send each other Tik Toks or Instagram posts that we think are funny or remind us of each other. Of course it’s not the same as spending late nights together on campus or adventuring on the weekends into the city, it’s something that keeps us connected until we see each other again.

If I have the time after completing homework, I’ll complete assignments for my writing internship or my communications internship. For my writing internship, I write pieces such as this one; for my other internship this semester, I schedule social media content and support the company’s transition to another website. Through this internship, I’ve familiarized myself with new software such as content management systems like Hootsuite and analytics programs like Google Analytics.

After completing some work for my internships, usually around 11:30 p.m., it’s lights out for me.