Students find new ways to de-stress during unusual semester

Baylor students play volleyball at the courts by the Brazos River. Brittney Matthews | Photo Editor

By Julia Pearl | Reporter

The combination of a shorter fall semester and a lack of holiday breaks has posed a unique challenge to Baylor students who have found their own ways to divide their time between school and self-care.

With a lack of time off from classes, students have not officially had a break to return home since the start of the semester. This was an adjustment for San Diego freshman Jenna Stehly, but she said she was pleasantly surprised by the support she’s found at Baylor this semester.

“I am the biggest homebody,” Stehly said. “I want to go home, but I’m having so much fun here, and I have such a good community at Baylor that I am not really craving going home.”

Stehly said that the best way she has found to cope with the lack of breaks in this semester is through taking time for herself and her social life when she’s not in class.

“I think the biggest thing is the weekends, just trying to get as much of a break as we can,” Stehly said. “Yeah, we still have work to do and stuff, but my best friend goes to TCU, so I went up to Fort Worth for the weekend. I try to take mini breaks to separate all the work, even if it’s just staying here in Waco, trying new things and going out.”

While freshman like Stehly have had to adapt to the semester along with so many other changes that come with college life, Houston junior Allison Ho said that she’s noticed a difference in the pace of her courses and the amount of time she has for leisure.

“I would say it’s been a little challenging especially since everything is so fast-paced that there’s not much time for a person to take self-care measures,” Ho said. “It depends on your schedule, but I feel like since I’m in a lot of different programs like BIC [Baylor Interdisciplinary Core] and Honors and I’m doing a lot of pre-med stuff, it’s tough.”

Ho said that the thing that keeps her motivated while adjusting to the COVID-19 precautions that the university has adopted is knowing that this semester is shorter than most. Because on campus instruction ends before Thanksgiving, Ho said the end of this semester is fast approaching.

“I’m just trying to be as efficient as I can in classes and learn to be okay with not understanding it all,” Ho said. “I’m trying to finish enough to get to the end of the semester.”

Ho said that while keeping pace with this semester keeps her motivated, adjusting to the time constraints has been a challenge.

“I would say that I feel like most of my classes are going a lot faster than they would during regular times,” Ho said. “Especially my BIC classes, we have a lot of reading stuff to do, but they don’t give a lot of time for us to actually understand it. They just go through it one day and then move on. I would say that I am definitely motivated to get to the end of the semester.”

An email sent out from President Linda Livingstone preceding the fall semester explained to students why this fall would be formatted so uniquely.

“During the course of our assessment of options for the fall semester, we have sought to make decisions that are right for Baylor University and our students, faculty, and staff — not simply to follow the example of other institutions,” Livingstone wrote. “Every college and university across the United States must make its own decisions regarding what is appropriate and feasible in creating the best learning environment possible within reasonable health and safety protocols related to COVID-19.”

Although finding ways to take breaks on their own has been a challenge, both Ho and Stehly understand that Baylor is doing what in the best interest of students’ health and safety. While Ho and Stehly found their own ways to de-stress, Baylor offers other resources to help students as well.

“I was a little disappointed because freshman year I felt like I missed a lot of opportunities to be a part of the Baylor community, especially with the cancellations and COVID,” Ho said. “I understood where they were coming from with the changes, and I’m very thankful that they’re take these precautions.”