#Personal Stories

School Years During Pandemic And Dreaded Tenth ke Board Exams

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Going through the 9th and 10th grade online and having to eventually give your board exams offline was nothing short of tumultuous, not to mention that we lived in our little bubbles for two whole years without any face to face social interaction. While it threw a lot of challenges and pushed us to unlearn and learn afresh it did teach us a few life lessons.

Going into the 10th grade in India is enough pressure on its own, what with all the unnecessary drama and hype put into ‘tenth ke board exams’ that make them seem like they determine your entire future, even one wrong step and your entire life is sabotaged. Having to study and learn online just made everything ten times worse. An essential part of the school in my opinion is the learning environment with teachers and like-minded students all academically challenging themselves, it’s this very learning environment that staying at home deprived us of.

I for one found it hard to focus when I had every single distraction I could think of right at my fingertips, which is why I lost a lot of my 9th grade to Social Media and YouTube videos, not realising then that this was not a relaxing break for me to enjoy, but rather a new way of life that I would have to adapt my learning methods to match and follow.

School During Pandemic: Not Having Classmates Next To You

Another aspect of the entire online learning phase that took away from my learning rather than gave back to it was the fact that you have no friends and aren’t in an actual physical classroom. After having been back to physical schooling for around five months now I can see a major shift in my concentration levels and my ability to retain all this information thrown at me in school. Having classmates next to you to solve any doubts and help you focus is a privilege I took for granted pre-Covid when I thought of having people around me as a hindrance to my learning rather than something that motivates me to learn even more.

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Lack of social interaction

Human beings are social animals and being cut off from the rest of the world for two years was bound not to sit right with us. I’ve always proudly professed myself to be an introvert, boasting about how I don’t need to spend time with others and I’m perfectly happy on my own. Something I still agree with to some extent, but not for such prolonged periods. Having returned to offline school I can very genuinely see my social skills slipping away after having been isolated from the real world for so long. It was this lack of social interaction that resulted in mental exhaustion and emotionally challenged a lot of school children. We knew that we could always ask for help or reach out to others when we needed it, but after not having seen anyone for quite a while you begin to feel emotionally isolated along with the actual physical isolation that one has to endure anyways.

schools closed again

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Two years of extra ‘quality family time’

Technically we were not alone, family time skyrocketed during the pandemic as that was all we could do. Personally, my family spends far too much time together, so the two years of extra ‘quality family time’ felt far too overwhelming and got rather chaotic, after all, there’s only so much four strongly opinionated people can tolerate after being cooped up under the same roof. Nevertheless, it did have its perks as I got to know my parents and sibling a lot better and always had a reliable source of assistance, whether it be academic or emotional. In fact, like a lot of families, we too adopted what is now known as a ‘pandemic puppy’ sometime between the second and third wave, realizing that with all this extra collective time and energy on our hands we might as well add another member to the collective chaos.

The Positive: Better Time Management

To say I personally academically suffered during the pandemic would be a lie because having everything online just made it a lot easier to handle my heavy schedule and allowed me to charter in a lot more time to study. The time that would have otherwise been wasted either travelling to and from school or in transitions between classes. It was this extra time that I started to use efficiently in the 10th grade, which made it a lot easier to catch up when I blanked out in sessions (staring at a screen for 7 hours caused that to happen far more often than I would like to admit) and focus on myself and where my strengths and weaknesses lay. Additionally, having all the time to myself allowed me to pick up new hobbies and just get to know myself better through activities such as music and artwork that I may have previously disregarded as frivolous.

I’ve just started the 11th grade and I’m so glad things have started getting back to normal, although the definition of normal seems to have drastically changed over these past two years. I feel as though in a way we’re all still recovering from the pandemic, be it physically, emotionally, spiritually or cognitively. It’s certainly left its mark on society as we know it as well as teaching us a lot about ourselves and the world around us.

The views expressed are the author’s own.