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Photo gallery Photo story: A day in the life of a student at home

April 15, 2020 By Brian Huynh

Brian Huynh dives into another day of being a student at home. Photo by Brian Huynh

EDITOR’S NOTE: Brian Huynh is a UW–Madison sophomore studying Journalism and Mass Communication. He began working with the University Communications photo team as a student photographer in October 2019.

Social distancing is hard even for introverts. I never thought I would come to that realization, especially not in my parents’ basement during the tail end of a school year. Normally, I would be roaming around campus trying to find a quiet place to cram for finals. I would inevitably end up in either Memorial Library or some hidden cove in one of the unions, studying until someone taps my shoulder to tell me the building closes in 30 minutes.

Usual. Normal. I won’t use such words when looking back on my sophomore year because there’s nothing familiar about the situation we’re faced with. This is uncharted territory for us.

Since the start of spring break, I’ve been at home in Milwaukee, roughly 80 miles away from campus, as UW–Madison moved online because of the COVID-19 crisis.

You would think that technological advancements would have made this transition easy. Most of our academic lives are spent behind screens anyway. But the most difficult part for me has been the isolation.

The greatest realization that I’ve come to is that technology is not advanced enough, nor will it ever be, to replace human interaction. My most memorable learning experiences involve people in one way or another. Even an introvert like myself is forced to admit that I miss the hustle and bustle of campus life. I miss laughing with people in crowded spaces. I miss trying to stay awake in lecture halls that are always either too hot or too cold regardless of the time of year. I miss the communal feeling of exhaustion that fills the air during finals season as well as the shared feeling of relief upon turning in semester-long projects.

My days are now spent in a small office in my parents’ basement waking up late and falling asleep even later. It’s different but I’m trying to make the most of it. This is what my new normal looks like.

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