Big Boy Blue in all his glory, this guardian dog would do terribly in an apartment setting. His nature is to protect the herd and scare away bears like his ancestors.

My love/hate relationship with HyFlex

Juggling freedom, a lack of camaraderie, and the animals

I moved to Arcata in the spring of 2020. After recently graduating from community college with an associate’s degree in communications, I was eager to begin work on my bachelor’s. I worked up my courage, moved myself and belongings to a musty house in Pneumonia Gulch, and began to work. I was just finding a routine and making connections on campus when COVID hit. With worries of getting sick and the loneliness I began to feel at my rental, I packed up my belongings, one sickly anthurium and panic-moved in with my boyfriend in southern Humboldt. I worked through the rest of the semester. And the next semester. And the next. Now, halfway through the fall of 2021, I have learned to cope with HyFlex. The results? It’s difficult. It’s hard to hear what’s going on in class and I find myself missing the collaborations built on campus. I feel disconnected from my peers and teachers. Maybe it’s my anxiety talking, but the online community just doesn’t jive with the in-person folk. It’s hard to pipe up from Zoom, and if there is a shoddy internet connection, or the people in class are having a rowdy discussion, there’s just no point to even talk.

Although it is arguably more difficult to communicate via HyFlex, I do appreciate the freedom that comes with online school. I have more time to focus on my studies, I don’t have to account for drive time, which always eats into the schedule, and I don’t have to relocate, which can be difficult in itself. During the pandemic, I also got a puppy. A giant goofball of a puppy, and my mom gave me her small dog. I also have a cat and chickens. I live on a decent sized farm in SoHum, but these responsibilities make moving more challenging. Even if I were to relocate, it would be difficult to find a place that allowed a petting zoo. Other options include some rehoming, maybe for the cats and chickens, but…who wants to rip apart the pack? Not me.

At this point, I don’t even want to move to Arcata. With winter just beginning and Delta variant trends and rates of sickness only bound to increase due to winter’s lower temps, I just don’t think it’s feasible. What if campus shuts down again? Will I find myself in the same place as spring 2020?

On one hand, Hyflex gives me the freedom that I love. I can accomplish my educational goals from the comfort of my home. I also have more time to focus on other irons I have in the fire, and believe me, there are a lot of them. On the other hand, I lack the camaraderie found in classroom settings. I find myself isolated from my peer group and unable to communicate effectively. It’s also difficult to work through the challenges of being a college level senior alone.

Overall, I feel like my college experience was ripped from my hands. Now, with graduation just one semester away, I’m in limbo. Even though HyFlex has its downsides, it’s a better option than uprooting my menagerie. So for now, I’m staying put. HyFlex, shcmy-flex. I’m getting my degree no matter how many times I have to ask someone to repeat themselves.

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