How to be Your Best as a Remote Learner

Written By: Eleanor Pratt

 With the majority of colleges offering online courses for the fall semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students have had to adjust extremely quickly to a new kind of learning. While many got a taste of what online learning is like during the spring semester, not many students were prepared for a semester almost entirely online in the fall. Students are having to battle things like Zoom fatigue, a lack of social connection, and much more. Luckily there are some tips and tricks that students can use to make the best out of being a remote learner.

One of the most important things a student can do as a remote learner is to create a schedule and stick to it. Online learning can trick students into feeling more laid back and less concerned about work, which can lead to panic later about missed lectures and assignments. To avoid this, students should make their own personal schedule that includes things like when they will attend class, when they will study, and when they will have time for friends and family. An incredibly helpful app is My Study Life, which helps students keep track of information about each of their classes–such as what time, the professor, etc.–as well as keep track of all of their assignments for each class. The app is extremely easy to use and is free to download on most smartphones.

Zoom fatigue is one of the worst aspects of online learning, but there are ways to fight it. To help focus try to put away any distractions like cell phones or even other homework you need to finish. Trying to multitask during Zoom lectures will only cut down how well you retain the information your professor is trying to give you. Engaging in class can help Zoom fatigue and will help you stay alert and ready to learn. Taking notes during the lecture, answering the professor’s questions, and asking your own questions will help the time pass much quicker and will distract you from staring at a screen for hours a day.

One of the very best things students can do to become better remote learners is to contact their professors about any questions or concerns they might have. Learning online can be an incredibly confusing and frustrating experience, but more often than not a simple email to a professor can clear up a lot of confusion and will make a student’s life much easier. That being said, it is important for students to always be respectful in communication with their professors and to realize that this online learning situation is just as stressful for them as it is for us.

When we can go back to fully in-person learning is anyone’s guess, but for now remote learning is our reality, and we have to make the most of it. By trying to stay organized, staying engaged, and utilizing helpful resources, remote students can be just as successful as if they were on campus.

America in a Pandemic: How is “The Greatest Country in the World” Handling Corona?

Written By: Maeve Ballantine

America as a country prides itself on being one of the most organized and advanced countries in the world. However, just because America considers itself to be these things does not mean that it is 100% accurate. These past six months have shown just how put together our country can be in a medical crisis.

In winter of 2020, the virus did not seem to be that large of a threat to the citizens of America. It was only affecting people in China and there did not seem to be too much danger of spreading. However, when the danger began to show itself, America ignored the signs. Even as more and more countries in the world reported cases, America still chose to remain ignorant of the virus, choosing not to take any steps to prepare for the imminent threat of the virus breaking out in America. When this eventually happened and cases began to sprout around the country, we still did very little to combat it until it became too large of a threat for us to manage.

Part of the fault lies with the administration and government, and part of the fault lies with the people. Back in 2018, President Trump disbanded the Pandemic Response Team, a decision that many Americans believe to be incredibly foolish and wonder if we would be in a better state as a country if the PRT were still in action. Even as the virus continues to rage, many politicians seem to care more about the struggling economy than the fact that people are dying. Businesses and schools were reopened far before a reasonable amount of time had passed to be considered a suitable quarantine. This will no doubt cause a second wave and a surge of new cases that could have easily been avoided had the proper steps been taken early on.

Not all of the blame goes to the government. There are people in this country who believe that this life threatening virus is not as dangerous as it seems. At the very least, they are not taking it as seriously as they should. There are people who refuse to wear masks and refuse to social distance, living under the delusion that just because the virus does not affect them personally, it is not something that should be worried about. Many are also refusing to wear masks on the grounds that they feel it violates their basic human rights. While being forced to wear a mask when outside of your home or when interacting with people outside your family or inner circle is annoying, the alternative is far worse. Even if the people refusing to wear masks are asymptomatic, they are still selfishly putting other people at risk simply because they feel inconvenienced. 
As of now, according to The New York Times, there are over 6 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States, resulting in nearly 185 thousand deaths. This could have been avoided. While it is not useful or helpful to say what could have been done, perhaps by pointing out what could have been done better, we as a country can take steps to avoid further disaster. But until we start thinking ahead and value practicality and safety over immediate comfort, we cannot continue parading ourselves around as if we are the greatest country in the world, because it is simply not true.

We Need to Stop Ignoring Chronic Illness

Written By: Lily Tender

During my junior year of high school, I would wake up dreading school every morning. There were a lot of reasons why, many of them normal for a sixteen-year-old: I was tired, stressed, and burnt out. But it got to the point where I was spending every day at the nurse because I needed to lay down because I felt sick or so unbelievably tired. For a while, I just thought these were the regular trials and tribulations of adolescence until I realized that most of my peers were not regularly nauseous, dizzy, fatigued and sick. 

I was diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, also called POTS, a chronic illness that commonly affects women between age 15-50. Dysautonomia International describes POTS as “a form of orthostatic intolerance that is associated with the presence of excessive tachycardia and many other symptoms upon standing.” Basically, if I go from sitting to standing too quickly I can faint. But it is not just in those situations. POTS shows itself through fatigue, lightheadedness, headaches, decreased concentration, shaking, fainting, heart palpitations, coldness or pain in the extremities, nausea, chest pain and shortness of breath.  During high school though my POTS was mostly under control, unlike 25% of people who have POTS, I was able to go to school and  did not require additional support like a wheelchair. Now in college, I sometimes spend multiple nights a week feeling randomly ill and unbearably dizzy. I will cancel my plans and spend most of the day in bed. I can also have weeks where I feel totally fine and free of exhaustion. While my POTS is mostly under control, many others with chronic illness cannot say the same thing. 

About 45% of Americans suffer from at least one chronic illness. However,like mental illness, chronic illness is not taken seriously. Many people say that physical illnesses are taken much more seriously than mental illnesses, but as someone who experiences both, I do not think that is the case. Both could be considered invisible diseases. To professors and strangers, I am a healthy, outgoing, friendly teen. And while my friends and I love to joke about my terrible sleeping habits and laziness, those things, among other habits, are rooted in chronic illness. Many people ignore these symptoms, but they can be serious signs of illness. 

Chronic illness during coronavirus can be extremely anxiety-provoking. I will randomly feel extremely ill and be convinced that I have COVID-19 before realizing that my POTS is just acting up. My friends with chronic illness joke that if they get COVID-19 they are definitely going to die. And while they joke, people with chronic illnesses are a higher risk population. During times like these, and frankly any time, it is important to recognize the validity behind your friends with chronic illness anxieties. Whether they are anxious about going out—with COVID-19 safe measures— because they are worried about their illness flaring up, or because they are immunocompromised during a pandemic, they are valid and much stronger than you realize. For many with chronic illness, getting out of bed can be one of the most difficult things they can do. Be patient and understanding with your loved ones with invisible disorders and give them the same understanding you would give to someone who broke their arm.

Quarantine Self Care Tips

Written By: Maeve Ballantine

As students begin to return to school, the stresses of work and class return with them. This year also poses a new source of stress and anxiety: quarantine. The state of the world is still very uncertain and the majority of the population find themselves stuck at home with only their families for company, if that. So here are a few tips to keep yourself physically and mentally cared for during this quarantined school year.

First things first, the basics. Just as with every other school year, a student has to remember to take care of their health by eating, sleeping and showering regularly. Just because we are in a pandemic situation does not mean that students have an excuse to neglect their physical health. Some options for food if you are not on campus is to use UberEats or Doordash to help support local restaurants that may be losing business because of the pandemic. Most businesses are very accommodating when it comes to curbside pickup. Or, if you wish, you can try cooking yourself. There are lots of simple and tasty recipes out on the internet for students who may not have a lot of experience with cooking to try. Finding time to cook and eat may be difficult with schoolwork and figuring out how to meet with professors or group project members, but it is always important to set aside at least an hour at the beginning, middle, and end of the day to get your daily nutrition.

 Sleep may also prove difficult, since the stress and uncertainty and from looking at screens all day. For some, turning off electronics for a considerable time before bed just is not possible, since many of us need to work long hours into the night to get our work done or have after school activities that are meeting over Zoom now. Fortunately, the internet also has many ways to help one sleep, such as audiobooks, meditations and relaxing music, all of which can be found on YouTube. There are also ways to improve sleep that do not involve the internet, such as reading a book for a half an hour before bed–for all you English students, this can be one of the books you may need to read for class, since scientists such as the ones on www.chronobiology.com state that studying something before going to sleep causes the brain to remember it more clearly. 

Physical health is not all that matters. Stress can take an immense toll on students if kept unchecked, especially now that we are cooped up either inside our houses or inside our dorms. So keeping our minds active is very important. One thing that is especially important is giving your mind time to relax and unwind. As with sleep, meditation can also help reduce stress, giving the mind ample time to process whatever may be distressing it. 

Hobbies are also important to keeping oneself mentally healthy. With all the time spent at home perhaps now is the time to pick up a new skill like knitting or painting. Even though it may be frustrating at first, part of the process is developing skills over time and seeing how far you have come is part of the reward. 

Perhaps one of the most vital things to one’s mental health is to stay connected. Humans, by nature, are social creatures and spending too much time alone can also take a toll. So be sure to reach out to friends to talk and connect. 

Most importantly, stay safe and stay positive. This quarantine and pandemic can only last so long. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not the oncoming train. Stay strong, stay healthy, stay safe.

Fight Off Sleepless Nights

Written By: Maeve Ballantine

As students begin to return to school, the stresses of work and class return with them. This year also poses a new source of stress and anxiety: quarantine. The state of the world is still very uncertain and the majority of the population find themselves stuck at home with only their families for company, if that. So here are a few tips to keep yourself physically and mentally cared for during this quarantined school year.

First things first, the basics. Just as with every other school year, a student has to remember to take care of their health by eating, sleeping and showering regularly. Just because we are in a pandemic situation does not mean that students have an excuse to neglect their physical health. Some options for food if you are not on campus is to use UberEats or Doordash to help support local restaurants that may be losing business because of the pandemic. Most businesses are very accommodating when it comes to curbside pickup. Or, if you wish, you can try cooking yourself. There are lots of simple and tasty recipes out on the internet for students who may not have a lot of experience with cooking to try. Finding time to cook and eat may be difficult with schoolwork and figuring out how to meet with professors or group project members, but it is always important to set aside at least an hour at the beginning, middle, and end of the day to get your daily nutrition.

 Sleep may also prove difficult, since the stress and uncertainty and from looking at screens all day. For some, turning off electronics for a considerable time before bed just is not possible, since many of us need to work long hours into the night to get our work done or have after school activities that are meeting over Zoom now. Fortunately, the internet also has many ways to help one sleep, such as audiobooks, meditations and relaxing music, all of which can be found on YouTube. There are also ways to improve sleep that do not involve the internet, such as reading a book for a half an hour before bed–for all you English students, this can be one of the books you may need to read for class, since scientists such as the ones on www.chronobiology.com state that studying something before going to sleep causes the brain to remember it more clearly. 

Physical health is not all that matters. Stress can take an immense toll on students if kept unchecked, especially now that we are cooped up either inside our houses or inside our dorms. So keeping our minds active is very important. One thing that is especially important is giving your mind time to relax and unwind. As with sleep, meditation can also help reduce stress, giving the mind ample time to process whatever may be distressing it. 

Hobbies are also important to keeping oneself mentally healthy. With all the time spent at home perhaps now is the time to pick up a new skill like knitting or painting. Even though it may be frustrating at first, part of the process is developing skills over time and seeing how far you have come is part of the reward. 

Perhaps one of the most vital things to one’s mental health is to stay connected. Humans, by nature, are social creatures and spending too much time alone can also take a toll. So be sure to reach out to friends to talk and connect. 

Most importantly, stay safe and stay positive. This quarantine and pandemic can only last so long. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not the oncoming train. Stay strong, stay healthy, stay safe.

Can Dating Still be Fun During a Global Pandemic?

Written By: Eleanor Pratt

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, but one of the more overlooked issues has been how exactly one is supposed to navigate dating during these so-called “unprecedented times.” Ever-present rules and regulations about face masks and social distancing can make dating feel anywhere from a hassle to completely hopeless. However, while our new reality can be frustrating there are still some fun and innovative things you can do with your significant other.

For those of us who have been stuck inside alone during the pandemic, enjoying the outdoors with your date can be a great way to spend time with each other. Plus, the majority of health experts agree that outdoor social activities carry far less risk than indoor ones as long as some precautions are taken. A socially distant picnic in a nice shady area can be a fun, relaxing date. If you are in the mood for something more athletic, a weekend hike might be the right way to go. For night owls, laying blankets out and stargazing together on a clear night is a great way to wind down after a stressful day. Downloading a stargazing app like Star Walk or Sky View Lite to find out what exactly you are looking at can make the date even more fun.

If you and your significant other are not quite ready to say goodbye to summer yet, a beach date may be the best option. Myrtle Point Park in California, Maryland is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. to both St. Mary’s County and non-county residents, and the park simply asks that visitors practice social distancing while there. About fifteen minutes away from St. Mary’s College of Maryland you can find the beach at Point Lookout State Park. The park is currently open from 7 a.m. to sunset, and the park just asks that visitors respect social distancing guidelines and crowd size restrictions.

If you and your date are more comfortable keeping your interactions virtual, there are still plenty of fun date ideas. The app Netflix Party allows users to sync their movies or tv shows and watch at the same time. Watch Netflix on one screen, and video chat with your date on the other so you can have the full experience of a movie date without any risk. For those who want something more traditional, nothing can beat an old-fashioned dinner date. Order–or make–some food and call your significant other over Zoom or FaceTime while you both eat. It may not be the same as being with them in person, but after a while of chatting and getting to know each other better you will barely notice a difference.

Dating during COVID-19 can seem like it might not be worth all the effort, but being creative with your outdoor or virtual dates can make things fun again. Respect each other’s boundaries and be up front about what each of you are comfortable with in regards to the pandemic. This will help there be no confusion or hurt feelings in the long run, and more time for just enjoying each other’s company.

HOROSCOPES

Predictions By: Maeve Ballantine

Aries-You may be feeling on top of the world due to good fortune. Revel in the good things life has given you, but do not take them for granted

Taurus-Life in quarantine may prove to be uncertain and stressful for you. Remember to take things one step at a time and turn to those you can trust for help.

Gemini- As summer changes to fall, so are new changes on the horizon for you. Embrace them and see where life may take you. 

Cancer-With a new school year comes new stresses. Plan out your schedule with plenty of time for work and relaxation.

Leo-The world around you is affected by your choices. Consider carefully what you plan to do moving forward and how it may affect the people around you.

Virgo-Life may be feeling a tad too fast paced for you these days. Take some time to disconnect and calm yourself.

Libra-You may have been feeling extra productive lately, but are also subject to burnout. Take it easy every now and then and remember that you’re only human.

Scorpio-Flashy advertisements may be taking their hold on you. Remember what is important, both for your sense of self and financial stability.

Sagittarius-You may be feeling a welcome yet unfamiliar sense of ease now that you are among loved ones. There is no need to question whether you deserve to feel loved, because you do.

Capricorn-With all the talk of new and improved, you may be having a difficult time remembering who you truly are under all the societal pressures. Take a moment to get to know yourself again and remember how wonderful you are.

Aquarius-Time may feel like it is moving too slow for you. Remember that once a moment is past, it is gone forever. Hold onto each passing day.

Pisces-Someone may turn to you for advice in the near future. Remember to keep a level head and understand what is important when you give it.

Why I’m Settling for Biden

By Lily Tender

As I scroll through my Instagram or Facebook feed, the hot topic on my timeline is, you guessed it, voting. With the 2020 presidential election right around the corner, many of my peers and I will be voting for President for the first time. 

When I was a kid, overhearing NPR playing in the car and my dad’s various rants about George Bush, I always knew one thing: I was a democrat. I did not really understand what it meant but I knew that as a four-year-old, I didn’t like George Bush at all. As I got older, I developed my own political beliefs that were stronger than some blind hatred for George Bush. I am still only a college student, and while I have some beliefs that are set in stone, a lot of my beliefs are molding as I work to become more educated and informed about the modern-day political scene. 

I want to start off by saying that I know that a lot of people are not voting during this election, and while I disagree with this action, I cannot tell people who, like me, would be choosing the “lesser of two evils,” that they have to vote for a candidate that has been accused of sexual misconduct, who has actively participated in crime bills that disproportionately affected BIPOC, and more. 

I understand that by no means is Joe Biden a perfect candidate. In fact, in the world of politics, I do not think anyone should be quick to use the word perfect. But when deciding who to vote for during this election, I have just one motivating thought: Trump cannot be president again. With the world entering its sixth month of COVID-19, the United States’ cases have skyrocketed and the United States now has the most cases globally. It is hard to ignore the fact that during this deadly pandemic Donald Trump has completely downgraded the virus, abstained from mask-wearing and held rallies inside where masks were not required. 

Donald Trump even tweeted on July 8, 2020: “In Germany, Denmark, Norway,  Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS. The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!” It is important to note that when combining every COVID-19 case that Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden has ever had you get 413,000 cases total for all four countries. The United States has had 6.2 million cases total and still sits around 270,000 cases a day. 

Besides the statistics or your beliefs about reopening, Donald Trump has threatened to cut off public funding for schools if they do not reopen, despite the CDC’s recommendations. I strongly believe that we need a federal response to COVID-19 in which  we set a federal quarantine and federal laws for the mask-wearing and more. It is clear to me that Donald Trump will not provide that kind of response, which is just one of the reasons it is extremely important to get Trump out of office. 

Even if you ignore Trump’s relaxed approach to this global pandemic, there are many other reasons why I cannot simply throw out a democratic vote. We cannot overlook Trump’s comments and actions toward the current Black Lives Matter protests. He has deployed troops and fully armed police into peaceful protests, and called those protesting BLM thugs and dangerous. He has been accused of sexual misconduct over 30 times and supported serial pedophile and rapist Jeffrey Epstein. Trump has separated babies and children from their families at the border, where they have been kept in inhumane conditions. 

It feels bizarre to only name these truly horrific things in a single sentence separated by a comma. But simply stated, the list of reasons why we need to vote Trump out of office is far too long. There are countless more examples of why Trump can no longer be the president that I have refrained from mentioning so this article is not a four-page article about my dislike for Donald Trump. It is an uncomfortable decision to make, but a vote for Joe Biden is the right one. It can help steer us away from Trump’s America, which is imperative now more than ever.

An Inquiry Into Contemporary Digital Communication Style

By Kristina Norgard

As a twenty-something-year-old living in the age of the internet and digital communication, I have noticed different ways people text and communicate on social media platforms. It seems that different groups of people, separated by age, location or interest, seem to digitally communicate in ever-evolving and different ways. One of the most obvious examples of this phenomenon, is something I frequently observe and even participate in: lower case letters. Why is it that some people text in all lowercase letters? 

Now, obviously, if you pay attention to this trivial occurrence, not everyone does this. But it is important to note that, at least on the Apple iPhone iOS system, you have to manually go into the keyboard settings to turn off Auto-Capitalization, so typing in all lowercase letters is a conscious choice. I know this because I have done it. So it seems as though lowercase writing must be a conscious choice, not just for me, but for everyone else who does it as well. 

I do not type in all lowercase letters to everyone. When writing professional emails, talking with older family members and friends (who might get confused or think it is lazy or rude of me not to be proper), writing for school, The Point News and to people who I am not well-acquainted or comfortable with yet, I use correct capitalization rules because it feels appropriate and necessary to be more traditional. With that being said, using lowercase letters is something I choose to do when texting close friends, writing Instagram captions, tweeting, and commenting on TikToks: all when I am in a much more casual setting. 

I found this shift from personal to professional and back and forth, again and again, to be funny once I noticed it. I wondered if it is a virtual and visual manifestation of the ways in which our personalities change when speaking or acting around certain people who we have certain relationships with. 

I know the ways that people text differs for everyone, and sometimes I will use capitalized letters when texting my friends. Some people are dedicated to lowercase letters always, others reject modernity and embrace traditional capitalization. Some completely reject emoji culture, others use the minimal typed smiley face 🙂 or use emojis strictly ironically, while still others just straight-up enjoy their emojis. But that topic in itself is a complete and whole other can of worms to dive into for another time.  

Whatever way people choose to express themselves through the stylistic way in which they type online, I find it interesting and potentially full of personal meaning. Of course, it could just be a trivial part of our society that currently does not need recognition at all. Regardless, personally, I found the texting phenomena to be a genuinely interesting look into the daily evolution of the digital world and the conduct and codes that people create around language. 

Can We Really Trust Biden’s Climate Plan?

By Robert Artiga-Valencia

In July 2020, former Vice President and current Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden announced his campaign’s ambitious climate change solution plan to the public. This plan includes a sweeping range of new policies designed to rid carbon from the energy sector by 2035 and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, according to PolitiFact. This is a step forward from the plan he proposed in 2019 at the beginning of the campaign trail – the plan now provides $300 million more for the effort, according to the New York Times, and accelerates the time table for net-zero emissions.

Various liberal interest groups and political actors have applauded Biden’s new plan, as it seems to be a shift toward more serious attitudes about the ongoing climate crisis. The Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate activism group, tweeted restrained support for Biden’s plan – celebrating the climate movement’s policy gains, but acknowledging that more work needs to be done in order to reverse the current course. 

President Trump and other conservatives have blasted the plan as “far-left,” claiming that its $2 trillion price tag is far too much for the economy to bear. Trump even went so far as to imply that Biden’s plan was “worse” than the green economic policies offered by the Bernie Sanders campaign.

But the political show of celebration and condemnation from the center-left and center-right seem to omit crucial details of Biden’s campaign. While Biden has claimed he will not accept donations from the fossil fuel industry, which is the driving institution behind the climate crisis, he has not explicitly targeted or even named fossil fuels as the subject of his proposals. 

In fact, the Biden campaign accepts help from the likes of political figures such as Ernest Moniz and Brian Deese – veteran advisers of the Obama administration’s energy policies, according to The Intercept.  Moniz chairs Southern Company, a natural gas utility found to contribute to 21% of the US’s carbon emissions with a handful of other companies that sued the Obama administration over profit-cutting environmental policies. Brian Deese, a former Obama aide, works for BlackRock, the world’s largest asset-management firm. BlackRock is also the single largest investor in the fossil fuel industry, according to Blackrocksbigproblem.com.

With people such as these on the Biden campaign, how sure can we be that, if elected, he will actually follow through on his “radical” plans for the climate? I think that we cannot be sure. We can only be sure that Biden, or anyone, will do something about the climate if we, the youth and the future of this country, push them to. In the coming years, a Biden administration will have to choose between corporate profits and the future of America’s youth. With corporate actors already taking adviser roles on the campaign, I fear that their choice may already be made – plan or no plan.