After COVID-19 sent a shock wave through college campuses across the nation in early March, forcing thousands of students to return home and finish their spring semester virtually, I found myself scrambling to plan for the upcoming summer in quarantine. I had originally planned to live in Berkeley during the summer months and work as a Campus Ambassador, but the complications of the recent pandemic forced me to consider other options. How could I stay productive while trapped at home? What could I do with my time that would be beneficial to me in the long run?
After days upon weeks of panicking to find a concrete plan for the summer months, I resorted to exploring summer classes that I could complete to receive credit for my major. After my web search drew a blank, I started looking into the summer minors that Berkeley offers. At first, completing an entire minor in one summer seemed extremely daunting to me. I questioned how I would be able to sit at my computer for multiple hours every day after I had already reached a point of mental exhaustion from half a semester online.
However, I eventually realized that the ability to complete an entire minor over the course of one summer is not a burden, but an invaluable educational opportunity. When first deciding to come to Berkeley, I thought I wanted to study journalism, but was dissuaded when I learned that the journalism minor was only offered over the summer. Before COVID-19, I assumed that I would be too busy with other summer plans to ever get the chance to take journalism courses and pursue a subject I am unique passionate about. However, the circumstances of the pandemic gave me a window of opportunity to pursue the minor and fulfill my educational desires amidst a period of loneliness and isolation.
As I enter my fifth week of online journalism classes, I cannot speak more highly of the summer minor program. Over the course of quarantine, I began to feel disconnected from my Berkeley community and unmotivated to do anything substantial with my time. However, completing a summer minor has allowed me to develop a productive work schedule, collaborate with fellow students, create faculty connections, and stimulate my intellectual curiosity all while still enjoying my free time.
One project I am currently working on for my multimedia class has connected me with a gardening club on campus and alerted me to the service they devote to our greater Berkeley community. Through one simple project, I am gaining a deeper understanding of an organization I was previously unfamiliar with and found a new community to become apart of on campus when returning to school in the fall.
While my classes require a certain level of dedication and hard work, I still have the ability to relax and be productive with my day outside of completing my academic responsibilities. Come August, I will have experienced a restful, fulfilling summer, and have completed an entire minor in the course of three months. What more could you ask for during a global pandemic?