Growing through “learning from home” and a pandemic

When I got accepted into Boston University early-March, I had several expectations for how grad school would pan out. However, none matched anything in the ballpark of remote learning or dealing with a dreadful global pandemic. 

Many months removed from March, like most people the world over, I’ve had to adjust to the dynamics of life as COVID-19 has notoriously shaped it. And like many other BU students who couldn’t make it to campus, I’ve immersed myself into BU’s Learn from Anywhere format, taking classes remotely from Ghana. 

However, one thing I was ill-prepared for was the rigor of balancing my life in Ghana, work, and school in a different time zone, where classes sometimes go into the wee hours of the following day. 

When you talk to people about how they’ve adjusted to the new normal, many people seem to have a tipping point. 

Mine came at 1 am, in the middle of a Data Analytics lab session, when I soundly dozed off, almost missing the entire session.

While I had the opportunity to catch up later the following day, it threw my schedule into a tailspin for the rest of the week! It was at this point that I figured things had to change. And since that class, I’ve more or less steered into the skid, adjusting in ways only this new routine would demand. 

Three things have helped shape my new normal. 

I’m becoming a ‘calendar-junky.’ 

My life is on a calendar. Everything I have to do goes into my calendar—even things like hanging out with a friend or calling someone. I realized when I failed to key in activities into my calendar; they slipped through the cracks. 

With several missteps, I’ve gotten better at managing my time. Juggling a full-time job in the day and school mostly at night, I’ve learned the value of time management. 

Here comes the chef!

For the longest time, I lived my dreams of being a good cook through cooking shows like Top Chef and Masterchef. However, at the peak of the pandemic in Ghana, when all eateries were closed, like most people, I was forced to learn to cook. 

Thankfully, it has turned out to be cathartic and probably my most fun COVID-spawned activity, except when I have to chop onions. 

I’ve grown from becoming an average french-toast maker at best to an end-to-end cook. And with limited time in the day, I’ve learned to make express mashed potatoes, yam balls, shrimp stir fry, and a growing list of other dishes. 

 Relationships matter

COVID and social distancing have changed how we interact with our family and friends, limiting physical interactions. However, from frequent Zoom calls with family to visiting my parents often when it was safe to do so, I’ve learned to value relationships a lot more.

Whether it’s a simple phone call, or text, staying in touch with my family has kept me grounded, especially in dealing with the different facets of life as it is right now. 

And every time I get to spend time with family and friends, whether in person or virtually, I’m reminded about the value of such relationships.

While learning away from campus has lacked several benefits campus comes with, it has come with invaluable silver linings. 

Michael Fiifi Quansah, Staff Writer

Michael is a first-year graduate student studying Marketing Communications Research at Boston University. Born and raised in Ghana, West Africa, he earned his undergraduate degree at Ashesi University in Ghana. Michael is an avid scrabble player, passionate about photography, and loves to explore new technology. He looks forward to writing for the COMmunicator this semester.

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