Feeling like a COVID zombie student

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Feeling like a COVID zombie student

Mar 12, 2021

Where to begin?

I was home for spring break only to be back again less than a week later and indefinitely this time––now doing college from my high-school bedroom. When both students and professors had to adjust quickly to these extenuating circumstances there was more acknowledgement to the learning curve of this transition to online learning and grace to give with the unprecedented global situation.

It was rough and strange. I don’t mind going back home to visit but doing anything academic there is quite possibly the worst thing ever or just quite impossible. I would often go to my grandma’s house in the country. The one glitch is her wi-fi is painstakingly slow and not fun when doing a research paper. Nevertheless, I persevered to sunnier days of summer. That was until a dark cloud dressed as a blue sky rose over head––that looming shadow was my boyfriend’s mom and step-dad. I tried living with his family after spending some of summer with them, only little did I know that their dynamics were like a volcano and not a dormant one. Even after I moved out, they mention casually driving by my new place and seeing my car, his mom has called me and my mom multiple times, then over winter break his grandma who doesn’t have my number video-called me, while talking to his mom. When I think about all the bat-crazy frenzy that has happened, I don’t know how I did it, how either of us did because my boyfriend (yes, we’re still together) over winter break had the locks changed on him to his house so he was effectively homeless and car-less since you never know if it is going to start. This house by the way is a lease, like is that even legal?

Since on-line school I’ve felt like a zombie student. I only took general education requirements this fall semester after finding the transition most difficult and most sacrificial to the learning experience with my major classes. Like a rollercoaster fall was one where once on, strapped, and locked in, there is no getting off until the ride is over. Oh, how I wish I just didn’t get on or chose a different route. I moved six times between now and August. But the lessons I learned this year are invaluable––I found a new appreciation for my family and perspective at taking both the blessings and imperfections of life which, previously I had seen in more of a black and white way. Even though my relationship with my younger sister oftentimes meets strife and quarrel, which to anyone on the outside looking in must be dumbfounded, our love is so great for each other. It has been tested even more but proven stronger.

Why does this matter? Well, life is unpredictable, nothing new but right now, the level of unpredictability itself is unpredictable and moreover, we live and we learn isolated in bubbles physically and intangibly, connected only through screens. There is no normalcy, any sense of routine has dissipated and pants or jeans are just as much of a stranger as shoulder-pads––haunting.

My mom told me about this Facebook group chat created by freshman parents and the conversations are disconcerting––describing the endless hours their kids spend locked in their room studying on the computer and how they worry for their mental and physical well-being.

There are so many elements to these new environments we are learning in and Pepperdine or any institute can’t unilaterally regulate that to be a conducive or safe one––for this reason pass or no pass seems like the simplest way to accommodate this disparity. Food, water or care packages, other basic essentials like hand sanitizer and masks, warm clothes, school supplies––things that are a given to not even learn but to live should be put forth by Pepperdine. We are online students yet our tuition does not in the slightest reflect that. I’ve watched someone I love not eat because they don’t have the money to spare and seen them lose weight in pant-sizes. This may seem like a harsh reality––but when is reality ever really sunshine and roses. We don’t know what everyone else’s classroom looks like or the challenges unique to them that is why love and compassion is of the utmost importance. Oh, and also organization and simplification (redact, redact, redact) the sense of structure, predictability and routine in our work and assignments affords us some sense of normalcy and that is especially helpful to those with ADHD.


Elle Moreland, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s media law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question: Classes have been on-line for almost a year. Describe your experience. What could be done to make it better? What would you do to increase class engagement? The class covers copyright and social media. Elle is an Integrated Marketing Communications major.

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