Students at home find ways to enjoy remote learning


Alek Fleury

Students that chose to stay at home and take UVM classes remotely have been surprisingly having a better time than expected, according to multiple student sources.

Luke Davis, Staff Writer

My phone is on the floor, singing its morning blues. Luckily, I don’t have to reckon with rousing my roommate. I’m at home this semester.  

Far from all the weekly case reports, campus-wide testing and social distancing, there are roughly 1400 UVM students currently taking classes from home, according to a September 30th Cynic article

So far, everything seems to have gone better than expected. 

Olivia Vogel is a first-year student at UVM. 

“I thought it would be a lot worse,” she told me. “It’s been helpful to know that [my teachers] are only an email away.”

However, some UVM professors have even gone further beyond timely responses to emails. 

“Some teachers have given phone numbers out and been like ‘feel free to text me, call me, anything you need I’m right there.’ So that’s really helped,” Vogel said.  

Many at-home students have had to find a way to separate their school life from their social life, a task made substantially more difficult when one is confined to their homes instead of an entire campus.  

“I know that my room is my home life, and then the table [is] the desk,” sophomore Lucas Pencak said. “That’s for all the classes.” 

Sophomore Clara Byors breaks from the confines of her home in order to feel more comfortable in virtual classes. 

“I used to do work out by our stream and do my classes out there. I feel like I can speak freely and be the college version of myself that I like a lot more” she said.

The college experience is about far more than just grades, projects and papers. For Pencak, it hasn’t been ideal but he’s made it work as a member of the alpine ski racing team.  

“We had our first virtual meeting yesterday and what they’re doing for at-home people is, you can just do the workout at home,” he said.

Lucas also talked about the experience of seeing his friends in that virtual meeting. 

“[I] got to interact with everybody a little bit before the meeting which is really good actually because I hadn’t seen a lot of those people since like March,” he said.

Engaging with remote students as a club can be very difficult and for some clubs operating on campus, it’s not worth it.  

“I chose not to engage in the clubs that I engaged in last year because they didn’t want to just do everything over Microsoft Teams,” said Byors. 

The attitude towards virtual learning was generally positive, though some people did have negative things to say about it. 

When I asked Byors about whether or not she had attended any of the virtual events on UVMBored, she responded with a morose sentiment.

“I haven’t. I just think it’s really sad, I just get more sad about the fact that I’m not there,” Byors said.

She said she’s been trying to stay positive despite all the uncertainty.  

“At this point, I’m just taking it one day at a time, just like everybody else is, and I’m trying to be as grateful as possible for everything that’s given to me.”

Not every part of Byors’ home life was doom and gloom, though. She said her friends had started an interesting hobby together to stay connected.  

She continued, telling me about how her best friend had sent her a care package including homemade earrings, her favorite film, a friendship bracelet, and an evil eye, a small charm against evil in Mediterranean cultures. 

“I just want everyone on campus to be as smart as possible so I can come back in the spring,” she added with a hearty laugh.

All in all, it’s impossible to say that at home students don’t want to return as soon as possible, but at the same time, they feel that UVM is doing a good job and that everything will be back to normal soon.  

Or, as Lucas Pencak’s brother Ben Pencak eloquently put it, “I can’t say that I’m not missing out on anything, [but] I think I made the right decision.”