Posts Tagged ‘online learning’

Missing Life in New York (Especially the Pho)

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

Displacement, disappointment, dissatisfaction. It’s fair to say that I am not the only one experiencing these feelings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mid-semester of my sophomore year I was sent home to do online learning like many other students this past Spring. The virus took everyone by surprise, but its impact on college students is a unique one. For many students, learning at home is not only difficult but also dismal. No longer on campus, one misses out on the most vital aspects of college – lively discussions with peers, spending time with friends, and the chance to explore the city. Miles from New York, missing my friends from NYU and struggling to stay on the ball with classwork, I’ve found that this semester cannot be described with words. Instead imagine a very deep, very tired-sounding sigh. 

But I’m trying to change that.

After a particularly busy past week (two novels to read, an outline for a paper due, and starting on a presentation for Spanish class, so on), I decided I’d order Vietnamese this weekend, pho in particular. We are nearing the end of the semester which means papers, projects, and other major assignments are flooding in, all due within days of each other. Food of course being my favorite way of treating myself, I let myself have at it. Having recently moved from home to across the state, I’m not familiar with many restaurants where I am now, but I’ve been craving pho and have been on the search for a reliable pho restaurant. As it turns out, one wouldn’t expect it but the second-best pho I can now claim that I’ve had is from a small eatery in the food court of a nearby mall, Pho Kitchen. Second-best. 

Maybe I’m lying a bit to myself. To be completely objective – the pho was absolutely delicious. I sat in the food court, mask placed to the side and socially distanced (which was a good thing, or people probably would have heard me slurping up the noodles and soup), and added a little Hoisin sauce and sriracha to the broth, mixing it in alongside the noodles, beef, onion, and cilantro. I squeezed a lime over it to top it off, stirred a little more, then dug in. The beef was perfectly tender, the broth flavorful and warm, and the noodles not too hard or too soft. All and all, completely satisfying. Why was it second-best then, you may be wondering?

It wasn’t PhoBar. PhoBar, which my friend Leslie introduced me to in our Freshman year, is located very close to Washington Square Park and was conveniently only a little ways away from our residence hall. I had had a cold and at that time it was just slightly more socially acceptable to go out to eat when visibly sick. We sat at a shared table and having only tried pho once before and disliking it, I wasn’t sure what to order or how to feel. 

“Just get the classic beef pho,” Leslie said, and I followed her orders.

Classic Beef Pho from PhoBar in New York City.

It turned out to be the cheapest item on the menu, which made it even better, but truthfully, it couldn’t have possibly gotten better. Even through my congestion and with what little ability I had left to taste, I was floored by the flavors of every part of the soup. Very quickly, just after a few bites and sips of broth, I became a passionate fan of pho. Leslie and I returned to PhoBar frequently after that and it is still one of our favorites.

When I was craving pho last week then, maybe it was more than just the soup I was yearning for. After all, I thoroughly enjoyed the meal I had, so all that was really missing was the fact that I wasn’t at PhoBar with Leslie. I wasn’t in New York.

Pho here will never be as good as pho in New York for that very reason. And on the same lines, online classes will never be as fulfilling as going to class on campus. Life in New York will always feel at least slightly superior to life anywhere else.

One could say that feeling discontent with this semester would be inevitable due to all that is happening, namely the pandemic. But in another attempt to try to grin and bear it, no matter how tiring it may be to keep grinning, I am doing my best to push through online classes and keep up with what is due. However, this is undoubtedly difficult. A few friends of mine themselves are going through rough patches and find themselves unmotivated. If you find yourself in the same position, here are a few helpful tips from U.S. News on dealing with online classes: 

  • Form a Schedule – Oftentimes having a solid structure to your day can help with keeping things in line and therefore getting more work done. Try writing out or printing a schedule, hang it up somewhere you will see it, and do your best to adhere to it throughout the day. 
  • Find Your Space – If you have a very busy home, it’s best to find a quiet area in your house to minimize distractions. If this isn’t possible, try going to your local library or somewhere you can get away from whatever may be pulling you away from your work.
  • Eye on the Prize – It may be difficult, I know for a fact that it is very difficult for a few friends of mine, but it is important to have a goal you want to reach and therefore a reason to get yourself to do work. “I’m just trying to get this degree,” is something a friend of mine says all the time, and I think it’s a simple but important mantra for many of us to take up during this time.
  • Stay in Touch – As for missing out on social interaction, use FaceTime or something of the like to keep in touch with friends from college. My friends and I use an app to send video updates to each other and it’s proven to help us a lot. Not only do we get to hear about what’s going on in each other’s lives, but it’s nice to see the faces and hear the voices of the people who I lived with for almost a year, who I care about deeply.

For more information, click the link above. Keep in mind that these things may not come easily or could be difficult to implement in your life. This is perfectly okay. It is more about the effort you put into doing better than how far you may actually get. I myself feel that it’s rare to have an actual productive day, but when I do I let myself savor the moment. It’s these moments that help me get through the semester. When you have that day (and you will), make sure you savor the moment, too.

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By: Anaïs Nuñez-Tovar

Anaïs is currently a Junior at New York University and is majoring in English with a minor in Creative Writing. Her goal for the future is to work in the publishing industry and write on the side. She loves to write and read poetry and fiction in her spare time.

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