Awa Badiane ’21 (left) and Isabella Mariani ’21

Like other Lawrence students, Awa Badiane ’21 and Isabella Mariani ’21 are navigating Fall Term amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Awa is doing so on campus in Appleton. Isabella is doing so remotely, having spent part of the term accessing classes while working on an organic farm in Hawaii before returning home to Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, in early November. The two Communications Fellows talked to each other about their respective student experiences.

Story by Awa Badiane ’21 and Isabella Mariani ’21

Isabella: Hey, Awa, I’ve been seeing friends posting on social media about life on campus right now. How’s that going for you? 

Awa: Hey, Isabella! I can truthfully say it’s not like any other year I’ve had here at Lawrence, but I’m glad I can be closer to my friends. What’s it been like taking classes remotely? 

Isabella: The first thing that comes to mind is how hard it is to stay motivated. One of the biggest roadblocks to remote learning, I think, is losing motivation. There’s no right or wrong way to motivate yourself; it comes down to what works for you as an individual.  

Awa: I hear that. I remember during Spring Term when most students were off campus and all my classes were online. I would be up until about 6 a.m. trying to read before class because that was the only time motivation struck. Maybe it was something about watching the sunrise after spending all night on TikTok that gave me the real push I needed. 

Isabella: I love that. Maybe it comes down to dedicating that period of time when you put yourself in an academic mindset.  

Awa: How about staying organized? Have you been able to do that?

Isabella: This is another big one for me. I’ve found myself losing track of dates and deadlines when taking classes. That’s pretty natural, since no one else is around to hold me accountable for making it to class or turning things in on time. Honestly, writing in my planner every day is really the only thing keeping me on track with school. It might surprise you how much making lists can boost your confidence and productivity. 

 Awa: I still find myself losing track of dates and deadlines, even on campus. I’m glad you have found a way that works for you in keeping track of assignments as they are coming up. Having two in-person classes and my third class being synchronous on Zoom has definitely helped. I am able to create a schedule around my classes.  

Isabella: Yeah, I guess it’s comforting to know people struggle with this on campus, too. You’re lucky to have those class times that you can work around. Being on the farm or at home, it’s also been helpful to have a space where I keep all my school stuff. Just to create a “class space” where everything is kept in order. 

Awa: Have you felt connected to campus when you are so far away?

Isabella: Connecting to people and resources on campus definitely feels harder being remote. While Lawrence has lots of connective resources on campus, it’s easy to feel distant from that when you are at home. I just remind myself that I’m only an email away from the CAS staff, and you also can schedule Wellness Center telehealth appointments for counseling or health issues if you’re not on campus. And staying in touch with professors has been really helpful. 

Awa: I hope you’re not having FOMO about life on campus! It’s still pretty hard to see people here. We all want to stay safe, so seeing friends you don’t live with has been a challenge. 

Isabella: I do sometimes get FOMO seeing some of my friends posting on Instagram from campus. But as you say, it might be more painful if I was there and couldn’t spend time around them if they weren’t in my pod. Are you still in regular contact with your professors? Does being on campus make that different for you? 

Awa: I would say getting to see my professors in person is one of the biggest benefits from being on campus. I have two classes in person, so I get to ask any question I may have there, rather than waiting for an email.  

Isabella: How about developing a routine? That’s been another big one for me. It’s been one of the hardest things. Remote learning is full of distractions, and it can feel impossible for me to make time to get things done. At home, I’m so distracted by my dogs, and suddenly deciding to rearrange my room. That’s why I think creating your own routine is key when you’re remote. Again, I don’t think there’s a formula you have to follow for this. It’s just about knowing what works for you personally. 

Awa: That’s true. I think the same works for being on campus. Sometimes I get jealous of my friends who only have class online because they don’t have to leave their rooms, but I’ve found little things I can do before class like grabbing lunch to get me excited. And I also remember how I would be up until 6 a.m. when my classes were online and I thank myself for making the best decision for me. Do you think being off campus is working for you? 

Isabella: Ultimately, I think it was the best decision for me. I know plenty of people are making it work on campus right now, but I don’t think I could properly enjoy my time there right now. I’m glad you mentioned using lunch to get yourself ready for class. Building routines around mealtimes is definitely helpful, which reminds me of something I’m really curious about. Do you think your sleeping habits/routines are different on campus? 

Awa: Surprisingly, it has been better. My sleeping schedule during Spring Term in quarantine was all over the place, probably because of all the late-night snacks. But here I know I have to get up and get ready for class, so I try to make sure I get enough sleep to do that.   

Isabella: Finding personal time also is really big for me. When all is said and done, you’re still a person with needs before you’re a student. It’s crucial to find a balance between your academic responsibilities and your personal life, especially when those two become intertwined. Just because you’re not in an academic environment doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a nap on your couch or watch movies. 

Awa: I completely agree with you. Even though two of my classes are in person, I still find myself on Zoom calls quite often. From LUCC meetings, to committee meetings, to meetings with administration, etc., I am on Zoom A LOT. But I have found in between the many Zoom meetings, stepping away from my computer and phone and just going for a walk or curling my hair to be very relaxing. 

Isabella: Wow, I always forget how busy you are. You must actually be an expert at knowing when you need personal time.  

Awa: It’s been great catching up.  

Isabella: This has been interesting because I expected that students on campus wouldn’t be having the same problems as me. I even thought that students on campus were simply having an easier go of things because they’re physically at Lawrence. But that’s not always the case.  

Awa: Yeah, we are living in very interesting times. It’s been an adjustment for all of us. It helps that we are all going through it together.  

Awa Badiane ’21 and Isabella Mariani ’21 are student writers in the Communications office.