First semester online: a freshman’s perspective

Jesselle Ann Morales

Freshman year is the start of a new chapter. It’s the beginning of the four years of high school that will shape you, guide you, and teach you all you need to know to pursue your passion out in the world. But for the Waipahu High School freshman Class of 2024, things didn’t go as planned. With the whole country in the middle of a pandemic, in-person classes seem more like a dream than a reality.

As a Waipahu High School freshman, I was full of excitement like many others in my class. I was excited about my first Arthur Awards and the cute pictures I would take in front of my class mural with my friends all dressed to fit the Homecoming theme of that day. I was excited to meet my teachers and form bonds with them. But, sad to say, those dreams and pictures may have to wait until next year because they were all taken away as a result of COVID. I was heartbroken and upset I wouldn’t experience them because of something out of my control. I was anxious and scared of this new experience and this new way of learning.  

Throughout this semester, I realized not everything is so negative. Through virtual school, I learned a lot about myself that I wouldn’t have learned if school were face-to-face. 

I learned how important it is to ask for help when you need it. When I needed help, I had to get used to communicating with my teachers by email, which isn’t such a bad thing. Reflecting back on all the emails I’ve sent, I can say I improved on asking for help and writing a proper email which I know will come in handy in the long run. 

I also learned that meeting deadlines for assignments is crucial, but with school online it is even more important. I have faced new with obstacles with meeting deadlines this year, such as oversleeping during naps, or my computer malfunctioning. I found that keeping a calendar where I could write deadlines helped a lot. I also got into the habit of checking Google Classroom before I went to bed to double-check if all the assignments I needed to submit in were turned in. All these tips and tricks that I learned came from all the bumps in the road I had to go through. 

I also learned that I am too hard on myself at times. There were times when I didn’t get a grade I thought I deserved on a project or an assignment. I was devastated. I was determined to get the best grade I could get. When I didn’t, I felt as if it was my fault. But as time went on, I learned that school is different this year and it’s all about realizing where you went wrong and making sure you fix it when something similar to the past assignment comes around again. I learned to stop myself from falling into that feeling of guilt by reminding myself that there’s always going to be a next time. When that time does come, I need to take all that I learned from the past and make sure I apply it to the present. By doing this, I know that I will not make the same mistake and my grades will be better.

Surprisingly, I didn’t only learn new things about who I am as a student, but I also learned a lot about who I am as a person. 

I realized that I depended on my friends to be my source of happiness, and although they still are my source of happiness, I had to find ways to occupy myself since my friends no longer can. Seeing each other was tough because of the lockdown regulations. I lost communication with a lot of my good friends. I also grew new friendships. But either way, I felt lost and lonely without my friends’ company. I tried many things to cope, such as painting sunsets, embroidering designs on my old clothes, going on adventures with my family, reading books, and so many more activities that at one point gave the happiness that I needed to stay sane. 

Music also helped me a lot during this hard time. Reflecting on the beginning of the lockdown, I was really lost and confused. I didn’t know how to put what I was feeling into words, and that just made things even more difficult for me. But I found songs that really helped me understand what I was feeling because of the lyrics. I connected with the songs because they forced me to feel the feelings I was having at the time instead of just shoving them down. 

One song that helped a lot is “Fall” by James Arthur. It says that sometimes you just need to let yourself fall into that feeling of overwhelming sadness to become stronger. Also, the lyrics,” … and I keep thinking back to the time under the canyon moon. I’ve been gone too long from you” in Harry Styles’s  “Canyon Moon” helped me keep a hopeful spirit throughout this lockdown. Styles mentions the word home in the song, relating the feeling a person gives you to the structure of a home. He says looking at the moon reminds him of his home since he’s been gone from it for so long. I relate to Harry missing his home because my friends are my second home. It’s been awhile since I’ve been home, but it won’t be long until I’ll be back. This song gives me that hope. 

Music gave me a sense of comfort in a way I never knew I needed, and for that reason, I learned that sometimes comfort doesn’t need to come from a person, but from a two-minute song full of lyrics and melodies.

I never would have imagined myself as a freshman going through school virtually. But I can say that this experience has allowed me to learn a lot about who I am as a student and who I am as a person. Is this experience a hard one? Yes, it is actually, because there were moments where I felt alone and lost. But with the help of my teachers, friends, and family, I am able to overcome the obstacles that I’m coming across.