Month: May 2022

I Know What Works for Me

By Yamila García

I really wish we could have options at school. The class I thought was going to be the easiest one, became the hardest one. Not because of its content, but because of the rigid structure that did not allow me to find a way to learn it properly.

There are times when professors catch my attention easily and are very organized. Those always became the easier classes, even if the content is the hardest. For example, in one class, I started attending lectures with the professor, but since they explained a little too fast for me, I got lost many times and had to watch the lectures again after class. Recording classes is definitely one way professors can help us. But that is not all. They also can post videos of another professor explaining the same topics. I think that shows an acknowledgement that we all learn in different ways. And in one class, it turned out, I understood that teacher much better. So, I stopped attending lectures and my performance got better since I was using my time more efficiently and could study more. The professor never took attendance, never tried to convince us to learn in any specific way. They understood that we are all adults and have our own ways.

On the other hand, some of my previous professors have not been flexible at all. Other professors often don’t record classes, don’t have alternative material, take attendance (that isn’t even graded for participation), and make us fill out  a form explaining the reasons for absence. I have even received an email after missing 2 classes in a row. In one class, the moment I noticed that the professor’s classes weren’t working for me, I didn’t want to tell them. I didn’t mean to be hurtful or rude. So, I did what I was supposed to do. I attended classes anyway and that wasn’t the best decision. If I had to do it again, I would tell my professor that the classes were not working for me and that I would prefer to use the little time I have learning the content in some other way. Maybe going to the tutorial center, with videos I could find online, just from the book, etc. It is just that some professors are not open to “other ways.” I wouldn’t say the professor’s teaching methods weren’t right, they are just not what works for me.

When things like that happen, I get stuck.  It is as if I cannot see good there. I don’t feel comfortable, so, I don’t like the class (even though it is something I would like in another situation), I don’t like the building, and I don’t like anything related to it. I feel so limited, I feel that I can’t do anything that could help me feel better about it. If I had possibilities, things would feel different, of course. In one class, with all the stress it caused me — with all the discomfort, pressure, and frustration I ended up with got a huge amount of stress that is affecting my health now.

I wish we could have options. I know there will always be difficulties, and nothing will ever be perfect, but there are practices that make things simpler. Programs and classes that present their complete schedule from the beginning of the semester, have a consistent methodology, offer different materials, recorded classes, etc. I don’t know if they do it consciously or if being organized is their standard operating procedure, but even if they don’t know it, they help us a lot that way.

Trying to adapt

By Yamila García

If I had to compare this semester with the previous one (my first semester at UConn), I would say that it feels as if I lived each semester being a different person. My first semester, like most of my “first experiences” on anything, was not great. I was just glad I passed my classes because I couldn’t expect more than that while trying to adapt to every new thing in this new place for me. Everything was new and so uncomfortable and frustrating. I even feel proud of myself for passing the classes in such discomfort! This semester, the second one here, was quite different. I had less uncertainty and of course, that helped a lot. My grades are better, I know where to go, where to find a quiet place to stop my mind, what food to eat, where to charge my electronic devices, different ways to get to different places, etc. I know that needing a whole semester to adapt seems like a long time, but that is what I needed and that is ok because it doesn’t matter how much time I need, but to get there and feel that things are not strange anymore.

Every time I have to break my routine and start building a new one, it is as if my true self hides and won’t appear until I have a new routine and the discomfort is gone. It happens with new people, new places, even new food! It seems like two different personalities, but it is just me exploring, getting used to things, finding that structure to support me, and when that happens my true self leaves the cave and can go out feeling safer. As I mentioned in previous posts, I am not sure what I am safer from, but I don’t need to know it. I just need to continue adapting to my environment and every change that happens. The semester is almost over and new things are coming again. One would think that after so much time I should get used to facing changes and new things, but it never happened. What does happen is that each stage passed, despite not taking away the discomfort of the next challenge, does give me the certainty that I am going to overcome it too.