By: Katherine Davis

2L at Syracuse University College of Law

Coming into my 1L year, I was advised to keep a routine schedule. This was to ensure that I stayed on top of my readings, didn’t become overwhelmed, and to generally stay organized. Quickly, I found my routine.

Wake up. Shower, brush hair and teeth, throw on clothes. Breakfast, followed by a quick drive to Dineen Hall. Class after class, studying and a lunch break stuffed in between. A few meetings, and then back home to dinner, more studying, and sleep. Wake up, repeat. 

I learned quickly to adjust my schedule to accommodate social events and some unexpected changes, like a shift in exam dates. I never thought I would have to adapt my entire schedule, my entire lifestyle. Then, COVID-19 arrived in New York. 

“Thursday, March 12 and Friday, March 13: All College of Law Classes Online; Dineen Hall Open” the beginning of the email read. I could handle online classes for the last two days before Spring Break. The rest of the email indicated that online classes would continue through March 30. An extended Spring Break, or so I thought. 

March 30 came and went, and the College of Law remained online. The entire world seemed to shut down overnight, and in New York, it did. A mandatory quarantine, no stores or restaurants open, no social gatherings, no return to campus. Nothing was normal. 

Wake up. Snooze. Wake up, roll over, open my laptop. Login, mute camera and microphone. Slowly zone out as the voice of the Professor drones on and on. Join the next lecture, struggle with my internet connection, give up as I realize I can go back and watch a recording of class later that day. Lunch, minimal studying since learning my exams would be open book. Video games, too much Netflix, asleep by 2 AM. Wake up, repeat. 

After months, I finally see my friends again, albeit six feet apart and hidden behind masks. It was nice getting out, away from the couch. I quickly learned that I was not the only one struggling with finding a routine and general motivation. That, many of my friends, were concerned with the beginning of the Fall semester and the online classes we would all struggle with without motivation. They all just wanted things to go back to normal. I don’t think it ever will. This has become our new normal.

Normal is wearing a mask everywhere you go. Normal is virtual classrooms, review sessions, and happy hours. Normal is constant emails from the university, reminding you that you can go nowhere, see no one, and do nothing that could risk exposing yourself or others. Normal is hand sanitizer. A lot of it.

With classes now returning, mostly online, I must find a new routine, new motivation, a new normal. Normal will become the routine I choose to follow. 

Author: Nadia Abed