Being a college student in the age of Canvas modules, 11:59 pm deadlines, and digital coursework means we must live our lives on the computer. Unfortunately, there is no way around it. A certain amount of our time each day must be spent staring at a screen, even though the overwhelming advice is to lessen our daily screen time. To add to that, the allure of the phone screen is too strong. I always find myself hopping from my laptop to my phone to my iPad to my phone to my laptop to my phone to my… ok you get it. We all tend to do that. It’s so hard to pull ourselves away from super entertaining apps like Tik Tok, Instagram, and YouTube. I also don’t believe these kinds of apps should be vilified either. They provide us with incredible content, connect us with our friends no matter the distance, and give us a wealth of free information. And yet, a healthy balance remains difficult to achieve.
When I find myself in one of these technology binges for too long, the days blur together and I lose touch with the real world around me. The only thing I have found that relieves the cycle is spending time doing something a little more analog than digital. Recently, I have found a new thing to soothe that disconnected feeling I have on the computer all day. I’ve been rediscovering a nostalgic low-tech device from my childhood.
Back when times were simpler, I used to plop down on the couch with my Nintendo DS and my troubles would melt away as I became completely absorbed in catching Pokémon or destroying zombies with my botanic army. I had a tiny world in the palm of my hands, filled to the brim with memorable characters, dazzling worlds, and soundtracks that pull on my heartstrings to this day. Some time last year, I decided to buy a Nintendo Switch Lite for myself in an effort to replicate the simple joy I had as a child while playing DS games. I had acquired my Switch Lite at a time where I was at the end of my rope trying to survive a global pandemic and go through college online. Social media was no longer cutting it as an escape route; too often it bombarded me with the endless deluge of tragedy occurring every day, tiring me further when I needed rest. So, I decided to take a cue from my childhood, and once again plop down on the couch with a cozy video game rather than scroll mindlessly through my phone. Though I was turning to video games to forget my troubles, I could find myself relating to the struggles that my video game characters had to go through, and in some ways it helped me to cope with my own while in college. Out of all of the games that I have played, none has showcased this more than the game Celeste.
Click. The rumble of boiling water sounds as the electric kettle goes off. I plop a bag of chamomile tea into my favorite blue mug, pour the steamy hot water over it, and indulge in the calming herbaceous aroma. I snuggle up with my tea and Kindle e-reader in a warm blanket on the armchair, which is tucked into the secluded alcove in the living room. My roommates and I have created a reading nook there, complete with a side table, a faux fur rug, and twinkle lights. It’s any bibliophiles’ ideal respite from a long day.
All is well until I’ve gone through my Kindle library and found nothing I want to read.
You’re probably wondering who the dragon is in the picture above.
Yep, that’s a dragon.
Who is he? He is Nicol Bolas, the Dragon-God. His name inspires fear in the very beings of the multiverse. He is tens of thousands of years old and has held the power of gods in his palm. He has machinations that have lasted centuries, and he has bent entire worlds to his will as a means to sate his godly ego.
As the semester comes to a close and we approach finals season, it’s more important than ever to remind ourselves that it’s important to take a step back and find something to occupy our time during much needed study breaks. Recently, I’ve been having conversations with friends about what it is outside of our classes that we do purely for enjoyment, completely separate from our studies and professional development. Finding an extracurricular passion is a great way to find a release or temporary escape from a hectic schedule of Honors classes, club obligations, and Zoom meetings. For me, this has manifested itself in the form of my semi-regular trips to the Little Bob throughout the week to swim.
Swimming used to be an integral part of my weekly schedule before coming to college and was not something I planned to incorporate regularly into my college experience. But after pandemic circumstances left me without access to a pool for a year and a half, I suddenly found myself nostalgic for 6 a.m. practices and three-hour meets. When I got back to campus this spring, I decided to ease myself back into swimming, uncertain as to whether I would enjoy being back in the pool or not. I cannot quite describe the sense of relief I felt during that first lap, two years after my last swim season had come to a close. I immediately felt myself relax into a familiar pattern, remembering just how much I had enjoyed swimming, even when it was too early to see the sun and I hadn’t gotten a chance to drink my morning coffee. Continue reading