I am a current freshman majoring in electrical engineering, and I am studying from my home in China. Switching learning and work to online settings seems to be the only way to avoid the complete termination of these activities. Since online learning has become ubiquitous, both students and professors are trying to adapt to it and to incorporate it into their lifestyles. However, as a student who is far from UC Santa Barbara, I have several concerns about our physical and mental health. 

Imagine if we were studying on campus. Your morning routine would involve rising from bed, going to the cafeteria for breakfast and then sitting near your friends and having a relaxed conversation. After that, you might head to a classroom and vividly experience the campus around you. Once you are done with your studies, you could go to the gym on the way back to the dorm and so on. All these activities actively push you to engage with campus life, which brings balance to your life. 

It has been about a year and a half since the outbreak of the virus. Since the outbreak, I have felt like I am trapped in an enclosed space even though I am relatively free to go out and do things, especially compared to the beginning of the pandemic. I set my alarm to ring five minutes before my first class, and I wear whatever is convenient — no one is going to see me anyway. Generally, I go to bed at 4 a.m. and wake up at 2 p.m. Even though live attendance is not mandatory for some classes, I enjoy talking to my professors and classmates. It is as if I am in a real classroom. It also helps me to adjust my biological clock for finals. 

However, this “work from home” thing has poisoned my lifestyle. Maybe it was good in the beginning, but it has been long enough now to damage my mental and physical health. 

Mentally, the unnatural sleeping pattern makes me feel unproductive and anxious. In fact, “sleep deprivation leads to a number of negative effects, including poor memory retention, productivity, and learning performance.” Since I wake up when others go home, I cannot go out and have fun. Instead, I am just sitting in a chair all day long, with my computer keeping me company. The decreased social activity is not that important to me since I have always preferred to “play solo.” The problem is that the only thing that I see is a computer screen. When I am not studying, I play video games. As most of you probably know, video games can be very addictive, especially in a conducive environment. So, I am unproductive, and then I waste time on video games. I struggle with guilt, and I feel that pressure like that can destroy a person. 

Physically, my irregular sleep pattern has interfered with my internal secretion, and a lot of acne has appeared on my face. I also have pain in my legs because of sitting and being immobile for almost 10 hours every day. I maintained a relatively healthy lifestyle at the beginning: I cooked for myself and went to the gym regularly.  However, this “work from home” thing has poisoned my lifestyle. Maybe it was good in the beginning, but it has been long enough now to damage my mental and physical health. 

Luckily, human beings are resilient. I believe that once we revert back to on-campus learning, we can move on quickly. Accidentally, this pandemic has made people realize the possibility of having huge numbers of people working from home. As technology has developed over this time, I believe remote learning will continue to be an indispensable part of the learning experience; I just hope to return to campus soon!

By Yizhou Chen 

During the time the world fought against a pandemic, another virus began to spread: Infodemic – an overabundance of information exposed to people that often misguides them and makes it hard to find correct and reliable sources. As reported by the World Health Organization and Pan American Health Organization, 361,000,000 videos were uploaded on YouTube, 19,200 articles were published and 550 million tweets were posted with terms related to coronavirus, COVID-19 and pandemic during the early outbreak. Such information and news was released and absorbed quickly online, many with undiscerned origins, which might negatively affect people and cause panic in countries.

“Bananas are the carriers of coronavirus!” My grandma explained to me when throwing bananas and other fruit away at home. It was during the early outbreak when the so-called virus origin news became popular hashtags. It seemed ridiculous and stupid, though, many might firmly believe such fake news as my grandma did at that time. Similar headlines in common research were, “Air is the transmission of the virus,” “You are running at risk of eating chicken and eggs” and “Stop coronavirus, let’s kill off bats!” Suddenly, crowds were overwhelmed by panic and anxiety, which led to more bizarre behaviors that put them at a higher risk of contracting the virus. Besides the example of my grandma, I’ve seen other people including my friends and even myself somewhat deceived by unauthoritative reports. Just think about the people around you, it’s very likely to realize that an infodemic is a common occurrence in our daily life and was accidentally emphasized by this pandemic.

Though the infodemic virus can never be fully eliminated, we can try our best to avoid it.

Not only did the infodemic influence people, it also hit society and hurt people, bringing about severe fears and prejudice during the pandemic. According to a video posted by The New York Times, Katherine, a high school student in Florida, showed how her and her friends experienced blatant racism. She mentioned that other non-Asian schoolmates attributed the origin and spread of coronavirus to Asians in public, restaurants boycotted Chinese people and overt bullying occured. Simultaneously, media followed the opinion and sided with it, which promoted further discrimination. It’s obvious that crowds were generalizing a race unjustifiably due to the infodemic published by unscrupulous media sources who only focused on billions of views with related hashtags. In this case, the infodemic, like the COVID-19 pandemic, disturbed safety in countries and, more seriously, deprived people’s freedoms.

Recently, COVID-19 can be effectively prevented and controlled by vaccinations, countries are recovering and people are building resilience. So, what’s the vaccine for the persistence of the infodemic virus? What can people do to minimize it? As college students, we are supposed to be responsible, to lead and be a part of fighting against the infodemic virus. Though the infodemic virus can never be fully eliminated, we can try our best to avoid it. After all, it’s not what we want when we get back to school, otherwise racism and bullying will run rampant. I will consider Christiane Amanpour’s suggestion helpful: “Really be careful where you get your information from, really take responsibility for what you read, listen and watch.” Otherwise, I wouldn’t arbitrarily post anything until it is supportable and authoritative.

By Shuyao Li

Due to the sudden outbreak of COVID-19, all students transitioned to remote learning and the ongoing pandemic and the constant emergence of new cases have forced us to take courses remotely for almost a year. During this period, some students offered feedback about the difficulties and inconveniences caused by online classes, such as not being able to socialize properly with professors and friends, often feeling lonely, etc., but I, personally, believe that online learning has been successful so far and has become a great opportunity for students.

I’m currently a freshman student at UC Santa Barbara. This is my first academic year in a university and I’m grateful for having such a unique school year with special study experiences. There are so many things I’ve learned through online learning and the most significant and meaningful one for me is the ability of better self-care.

Since we’re all studying alone, there are not a lot of people around who can give us substantial help, and this is where self-care becomes important. During online learning, I have increasingly realized the importance of physical health, so I began to insist on taking 30 minutes every day to do yoga on my yoga mat or skip rope and jog. At first, this sudden increase in exercise was certainly a burden for a person like me who was not very fit, but as I gradually increased the way I exercised and the duration of my daily workout, I experienced unprecedented pleasure: My body shape became defined, and my body function slowly became more and more healthy. In this way, I developed the good habit of consistently exercising during the pandemic. 

I also found that mental health was equally important, so whenever I had some negative emotions that I couldn’t deal with on my own, I would make an appointment with a professional counselor to get some help or chat with my parents. The counseling was usually very effective and inadvertently fostered family bonding. Thus, in just one year, I have gone from being an immature teenager with no concern for my physical, mental or emotional health to someone who takes the health of my body and mind very seriously.

Based on the current situation, students have taken better care of themselves during the time period of online learning and have more time to develop and explore themselves.

There is no doubt that studying online poses many challenges to all of us. For example, sometimes we can’t get timely answers to questions we don’t understand, and most international students have to take some synchronous classes and exams in the middle of the night because of the time difference. However, the unique experience of taking online courses also provides us some unexpected benefits such as a more flexible schedule. Compared to traditional learning, parts of classes have changed to asynchronous, which means that the class times are not so fixed and immutable. This schedule indirectly gives us more free time to do the things we wanted to do but never had time to do before.

Statistics also imply that during the pandemic, students have used their time more efficiently than they did before. Students began to do something besides studying and staying online all day. According to a survey done by BestColleges, 52% of the students spent time doing a hobby every day, 44% of them started utilizing their spare time to participate in physical activities, 38% spent more time outdoors to live a more colorful life and 30% of them indicated that they got the opportunity to take time off from social media and news. Although many teenagers are still mentally and physically suffering from the online classes and are facing hardships during the ongoing crisis, this data effectively shows that the pandemic and online learning can be a great time for us to enhance our abilities to be resilience and persistence during a hard time and carve out time for enriching ourselves in different ways.

Based on the current situation, students have taken better care of themselves during the time period of online learning and have more time to develop and explore themselves. Therefore, I personally enjoy distance learning and believe learning online has overall been quite successful so far.

By Rebecca He