Georgetown Junior shares his tips for juggling school, family and personal time while under one roof.

Marcell with a rainbow in the backgroundFor much of the 2019-2020 academic year, I settled into a regular daily routine. I would board the 17L Metrobus at 7:47 every morning and, a breezy 40 minutes later, I would arrive at the Pentagon to board a Blue Line train. From there I would take the train two stops further to Rosslyn. After a quick espresso at East West Coffee, I would take a bike over the bridge and onto campus. In total, the trip took about one hour and fifteen minutes and was made every day, with a return trip lasting almost as long. Nevertheless, every night I would be at home with my family where I would eat dinner and do my homework.

Although the traveling was sometimes draining, I still spent the bulk of my time at home. On weekends I didn’t have to go to campus at all. Although such an experience is rare for a Georgetown student under normal circumstances, the current COVID-19 pandemic has made it the new norm for much of the student body. I know this has been a difficult transition for many students, especially those for whom online instruction is nearly untenable for technological, economic or health-related reasons. Nevertheless, there are some habits that I formed in my years of commuting that hopefully, some Georgetown students may find useful. 

One concern I know many Hoyas share has been the difficulty in reconciling school and home life, two spheres that have previously been geographically distinct for most. This was hard for me, too, at first. By creating a routine, though, I was able to mediate it. I set aside separate time blocks for schoolwork and for family time, careful to make sure that these happened in distinct parts of the house as well. Routines go beyond merely scheduling time for schoolwork, too. Sometimes, especially on weekends, it was hard for me to spend the whole day at home and efficiently budget my time. However, if I created a regular time for going on a walk, volunteering, or listening to my fairly extensive Diana Ross collection on vinyl with bits of work interspaced between, I found myself doing more work. 

I know that some of this may seem trite — we’ve been told to budget our time since grade school — but without anywhere to physically go, doing so becomes much more challenging. Nevertheless, reserving time for these activities saves us (at least mentally, if going outside for a walk is not a prudent choice in these times) from the monotony of being in one place. 

Many students who are being forced to adapt to the vagaries of online education have found the transition to be especially difficult. Even at the time of writing, a massive storm system laden with tornados has traveled up the East Coast from Florida to Virginia destroying homes and cutting power to thousands of households. This change has been and will continue to be more difficult for some students than others. It is crucial in these times that we prioritize a sense of mutual understanding and community to preserve and strengthen the social fabric of our University. This is perhaps the most important advice that I can give, and hopefully, through supporting and understanding each other we will weather this storm. 

By Marcell Subert (SFS ‘21)

Marcell Subert is a student worker at Campus Ministry on the Catholic and Ecumenical Teams