The pandemic caused a lot of change in people’s lives. With these changes came new experiences such as schooling remotely, working remotely, or both. Students and professors experienced this in one way or another, and each had to figure out how to juggle their work and school lives with their home lives.
In fall 2020 17.7 million students were enrolled in online-only classes and 44% of people are now working 5+ days from home online due the pandemic. Many students and staff are not only still figuring out the online side of school and work, but also how to separate those from what is supposed to be a place to unwind and forget about those stressors.
Students are not only having to experience college life from home, but they also must figure out how to incorporate their jobs into the same space.
When asked what his initial thoughts to both working from home and schooling from home were, David De La Rosa (junior, Creative Media) said in response, “Initially very happy as I have a respiratory condition and COVID could be fatal for me, so if school was not online, I would not have gone.”
De La Rosa is a graphic designer and worked from the school in a back office where he did not have much one-on-one contact with people, but he eventually had to leave due to a COVID scare in the office. He stated that, “I did work from home for a few days while things settled down, and I found it challenging as I did not have full access to the servers and the images I normally use, so I had to think and adjust on the fly.”
De La Rosa is one of many who had to quickly figure out how to transfer their work from a comfortable office environment to home. In regards to juggling work and home life De La Rosa shares, “I 100% find it difficult to juggle things as I have a mindset that when I am at work in my office it is work time, and I focus much easier. When I am home it is free time, and I can relax and work on hobbies, so when I try to do serious work in my leisure space, I find it difficult to maintain focus and fall behind. I often go to my office after hours just to work on homework or do Zoom meetings.”
Many students had to deal with family not understanding that even though they were home, it did not mean that they were free to do whatever they wanted. Many students had set Zoom meetings for classes and assignments still due at set times. A schedule still needed to be put in place to stay on track and not get distracted.
Amí Costa’s (senior, Art major) initial thoughts of working and schooling from home were that she felt relieved because it would be easier to pass her classes. Costa says, “I do find it somewhat difficult to juggle all of the work, schooling, and home life because there is no longer a structure/schedule that I have to follow. Instead I have to create it all myself while also getting the work done on time.”
Professors not only had to figure out how to transfer their classes online, but also learn how they were now going to teach their classes. The professors from the art department found it the most difficult when it came to juggling their home and work lives just due to the types of classes they taught.
Associate Art Professor Susan Stephenson (Department of Art) shares how working from home has been going for her in which she responds, “Part of the difficulty of this period for me has been the fact that I am not very good at separating work life from home life."
In contrast to working from home, Professor Stephenson shares how she was able to handle in-person classes. "My flurry of activity was offset by a few periods of quiet in which I could recharge my 'batteries' with my own artwork in the studio or outside, and that made all the difference. Since moving online, however, I feel so much less able to keep my work life from spreading into all corners of my life."
In order to relax from the stressors that come with working from home, Professor Stephenson says, "I do take some time to sit back and look at the sky, but I have drastically less time for that, these days. I also recognize a near-constant feeling of guilt that I wrestle with daily, worrying that I am not interacting with my students enough. I am grateful that we have been able to continue working with students, even though it's not been ideal.”
Considering art professors must work with painting, ceramics, printmaking, and drawing, they all had to figure out how to turn their homes into art studios they could work from. Their work lives were now impeding on their home lives, and it was not an easy transition for some.
Professor Stephenson shares how she has arranged her makeshift classroom at home. “I arranged a little work space for recording demonstrations during the spring 2020 remote portion of the semester, and I've continued to use it this year. I use a low wooden coffee table, and I have arranged a little partition of white foam board that helps bounce light back into the set up to display whatever I am demonstrating for a class. The Art Department let me borrow a camera tripod with a boom attachment. That has turned out to be the most useful tool for this mode of teaching."
Stephenson is just one of the many professors who struggled at first with juggling their home and work lives and how creative they had to get to be able to instruct their students properly without hurting their learning experience.
With the possible re-opening of the school in the fall 2021 semester, many are hoping for some normalcy again. Whether professors go back to working at the school or student's jobs go back to in-person, these experiences they have gone through have been stressful but also valuable in terms of learning experiences.
If you're feeling stressed about juggling your work, school, and home life, you can reach out to the provided counselors at the Psychological Counseling Services on the Stanislaus State website.