A mahogany wooden desk accessorized by hand sanitizers I once cared little about, and piles of overdue library books. Sitting in a cold leather spinning chair, staring blankly into a laptop while trying to get to know a teacher I’ve never even seen in real life. The constant laughter, stress, and bell-ringing of school sucked out of the air like a vacuum. This has become the new norm for most of us quaran-teens.

Let me preface this by stating that I am beyond grateful for teachers working meticulously to ensure that students have the resources that they need to expand and fuel their learning. I want to hand a trophy to every single one of them for adapting to eLearning, but I’m unable to do that because ... well, social distancing.

Succumbing to a state of laziness and sheer boredom is tempting, but keeping myself busy has been a priority of mine, and distance learning has helped significantly with my efforts. The school day technically starts at 9:30 a.m., so I try my best to wake up at at least 8:30 a.m. and eat a healthy breakfast before diving into my course work. I never thought I’d say that I miss the adrenaline pumping in my blood after sleeping through my alarm, throwing on a shirt and jeans and hoping they coordinate. The feeling of physically getting ready in the morning and riding to school simply cannot be replaced.

I start by creating a list of tasks I need to complete for each subject, and check them off when I’m done. Each class has a quiz or discussion board post that teachers use to mark students for attendance. There are different online lectures that teachers provide to cover material as well. I give myself a break between classes to catch up with friends through texting or simply calling them up. Staying connected with my peers helps boost my mental health and keeps me updated with what’s going on outside of my family. Often, I’m eating lunch by myself because of different schedules for my family, and it makes me miss munching with lunch buddies in the social atmosphere of school cafeterias.

At times when WiFi is not cooperating in the middle of an assignment or test, it can be frustrating and stressful to deal with. Teachers are doing a good job of staying patient and understanding when connection issues occur. It will definitely be a new experience this year for many of us taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams at home.

Navigating our way through distance learning is not impossible, but I feel that no digital resource can measure up to the friendly, buzzing environment of our schools.

Aspiring journalist Harini Senthilkumar is a ninth-grader at Eden Prairie High School. She enjoys singing and writing.

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