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.