Feb 03, 2012 0 Share

Connections


Illustration of head in silhouette with social network above.
iStockphoto

Since my last column, my Grandma has passed away. She died peacefully in her sleep on Thursday, January 19. She was 87 years old. Her funeral was held a few days later, and most of the extended family and many people who were friends with her or knew her from various places came to give their condolences. It was incredible to see so many people who cared about Grandma. She was truly loved. I will miss her.

I remember the many long hours I recently spent at the hospital waiting for news about Grandma’s condition. While this was happening, I was also wondering when my computer would return from the repair shop. It had contracted a virus at precisely the worst possible time. The college semester would begin shortly, and I needed to complete the icebreaker activities in each of my classes before it began. The icebreakers are mostly ungraded activities in which I introduce myself to my other classmates and show that I understand the syllabus material for each class; they are not exactly proper schoolwork, but I feel compelled to do them anyway to show the teachers that I am indeed participating in the course. I was relieved when my laptop came back from the repair shop, as I was then able to complete the icebreakers quickly. I finished them during the days between Grandma passing away and her funeral.

After the funeral, I then had to begin doing the schoolwork in each class. For the first two days of the semester, I read through the first chapters in each of my textbooks and participated in virtual discussions. These discussions are the online equivalent of classroom discussions; all of the students answer the teacher’s questions, and then we must discuss aspects of the course material among ourselves. These portions of the class are apparently supposed to be the easy part, but I find them quite exhausting. It takes me a bit of time to complete one discussion post because all of my ideas need to make sense before I can post my thoughts, and I have to make sure that my spelling and grammar is correct. I also try to post two or three replies to people who talk to me in each discussion per day. Multiplied across five classes with one to three discussion areas each, I have found that this takes a lot of time—time I would rather use to work on essays, quizzes, exams, and other areas of my schoolwork. By the time I am done with discussions for the day, it is usually very late at night, and I feel compelled to head off to sleep.

When the discussions are out of the way, I am then able to concentrate on doing everything else that is required. These assignments bring their own challenges, but they are a welcome diversion from the continuous grind of producing discussion posts. This semester, I am finding that the quizzes are the easiest part of my coursework. They are all presented in an open-book format this year, which means that I can freely look up the answers in my textbooks It is still a bit tricky for me to find some of the correct answers, especially when under a time limit, but at least the format provides me with a bit of relief. The essays, on the other hand, are much more difficult. During my first two weeks, I have been assigned three different essays. I find essays much harder because they require more time, and I have to really put a great deal of effort into editing my own work. Once everything is sorted out, though, and the essay is complete, I feel satisfied with what I have done.

The first few weeks of this semester have actually been fairly easy, but my courses do require a lot of work to be completed in a short period of time, which always takes getting used to. However, I think I am starting to adjust and will be able to continue my schoolwork for the next few months without too many difficulties. I am looking forward to learning more useful information this semester, and I cannot wait to graduate.