By Fairouz Gaballa
In light of classes being primarily online, the Cadre will be focusing on students, who they are, their issues, their joys, and everything in between. For this week, I had the enjoyable opportunity to interview two Panthers: Brodie Murnaghan and Emma Christensen, both from PEI.
Brodie Murnaghan (Photo Credits: Austin Murnaghan)
Murnaghan began university as a Business major but is now in his second year of a BA in English. He switched his studies because he wants to be “pushed to follow his passion” of writing and reading. Murnaghan considers himself “basic” in the sense that one of his favourite T.V. shows is Friends, he even has a cat named Chandler. His favourite music genre is Rock and the Beatles are his favourite band.
“It’s pretty basic, it’s like saying ‘what are your favourite movies’ and answering, ‘the ones with cameras,’” he joked.
Emma Christensen (Photo Credits: Emma Christensen)
Emma Christensen is a first-year student-athlete and Sustainable Design Engineering major. Christensen is on the women’s Cross Country team at UPEI. Having to stay home during the pandemic wasn’t a bad experience for Christensen; in fact, it made her realize how extroverted she is; she realized that she really liked being part of a group and getting to meet different people.
Murnaghan and Christensen sat down with a Cadre reporter to talk about the extreme differences between last school year and this year. Due to a world-wide pandemic because of a virus outbreak, UPEI, at least for the Fall semester, is delivering education primarily online. For many reasons, many students find this current year particularly challenging and disappointing.
Although professors are available for office hours and one-on-one meetings, the connection of being in person and seeing a professor teach just doesn’t match sitting behind a computer screen and hearing your professor speak.
“I find it difficult to stay productive when I’m working in my bedroom rather than in a classroom or somewhere else on campus.” Murnnaghan told the Cadre.
Christensen considers herself one of the lucky students who has some of her classes in-person which she finds helps her learning. Christensen finds that it’s easier to connect with her peers in person, but it’s still a struggle due to the physical distance and mask-wearing.
“The process [of connecting with people] is slowed down from what it would normally be because you’re not on campus all the time to see everyone.”
Wearing a mask in public and indoors and maintaining six feet apart may be the “new normal”, there’s also the possibility of university continuing online.
“I’m fine with this being the ‘new normal’ until there’s a widespread vaccine, but I wouldn’t want that to be the new normal for the rest of my life, it’s a lot harder to make connections with people and meet new people.” Murnaghan commented.
Murnaghan and Christen stated that they wouldn’t be happy if the remaining of their degrees were online because it takes away from the entire university experience. It halts making new connections with others.
“It’s so much harder to talk to a person and get to know them when you can’t see them face-to-face, or when you are physically distanced.” Christensen explained.
“It would be very disappointing to continue the next two years like this.” Murnaghan added.
For Christensen there is added disappointment as her cross country season was cancelled, however she managed to find a silver lining.
“It’s obviously disappointing…especially as a first year…but this year without competitions may help me ease into university and manage being a student-athlete with my academics and other extracurricular activities.” Christensen commented.
One common thing that kept bubbling to the surface was that there are much less social interactions with classmates and much fewer opportunities for connections. There’s mutual ground between many Panthers in this sense.
It’s interesting as to why it’s so hard for many students to adapt to online learning because so many would rather communicate online than in person, yet still find it hard to make connections online.
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