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Immersion @ Home

Posted by on Monday, May 11, 2020 in Immersion Blog.

I know firsthand that the process of leaving campus and moving back home has been stressful, to say the least. Leaving my friends, professors, student orgs, and social life at Vanderbilt was really, really hard. And now with quarantine extending into the summer, there is a lot of uncertainty about summer internships, study abroad, and summer research. I know this may be hard for students who were planning to use these experiences for their Immersion projects, but there are still ways to make progress submitting your plan and creating your project, even from afar. Additionally, it is important to focus on wellness during these challenging times. Here are some suggestions, from one student to another, listed first by Immersion Pathway, with general tips for Immersion and wellness included below.

Civic & Professional

Graphic of a laptop with large text advertising the Civic and Professional Pathway of Immersion Vanderbilt

  • Find a way to (safely!) volunteer in your community, whether that be donning gloves and a mask to volunteer at a local soup kitchen, or volunteering to sew masks for healthcare professionals. There are individuals and organizations working to combat the shortage of personal protective equipment.
  • Do some virtual networking. We can’t meet in person with anyone right now, but email, phone calls, Zoom, and LinkedIn are still good ways to network to form new connections and strengthen existing ones.
  • Online tutoring! As middle and high schools move online across the country, find a way to help with virtual tutoring.
  • Even though it might feel like the world has stopped moving, the Career Center certainly has not! Check DoreWays to see a list of Career Center webinars and workshops; we can all benefit from learning something new!
    • The Career Center is still offering coaching appointments. Use DoreWays to schedule an appointment with a career coach today!
  • Now that most companies have transitioned to conducting their business online, some have begun offering remote internships or project-based assignments. Spend some time on your favorite job search platform; you might find an experience that can be part of your Immersion!
  • Take this time to develop relevant career skills! Sites such as edX, Coursera, Skillshare, and LinkedIn Learning all offer courses across a broad range of subjects.
Creative Expression

Graphic of a piano, musical notes, and drama masks with large text advertising the Creative Expression Pathway of Immersion Vanderbilt

  • Seek inspiration from poetry, a short story reading, or the progression of an art piece. Continue to create and share your art from home. Social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation!
  • Livestream your favorite artist: many artists are taking to social media to stay connected with their fans after concerts and tours have been canceled or rescheduled.
  • If you play an instrument, sing, write music, prose, or verse, set a goal to practice or create new pieces every week. In the words of Robin Williams, “There is no shame in failing. The only shame is not giving things your best shot.”
  • Take a virtual museum tour.
  • Looking to pick up a new skill? Nikon is offering a catalog of free photography classes! Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or just starting out, the classes can be tailored to any level.

Graphic of a globe with large text advertising the International Pathway of Immersion Vanderbilt

  • Work on learning a new language! Resources like Duolingo are free and easy to use; for a small cost, Rosetta Stone and Babbel offer more structured courses too.
  • Look up somewhere you want to visit once quarantine is over. You can research the history of a city, the best sights to see, and the best restaurants. YouTube can be great for informal learning, while official state tourism sites are likely to provide more nuanced information.
  • Whether you want to hone language skills or learn more about a country’s cinematography, Netflix offers a wide selection of international films, series, and documentaries. From Alfonso Cuaron’s Oscar-winning Roma to foodie-approved Chef’s Table, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste.
  • If you want to study abroad, make a plan for the courses you’d like to take during your time at Vanderbilt. Say you are an economics and music major with an astronomy minor:
    • Make a plan as though you are only an economics major, and move all of your classes from the semester you want to be abroad, leaving that semester open for special, abroad-only classes.
    • Add in the courses needed for your music major, still making an effort to leave your abroad semester open.
    • Finally, add in the courses for your astronomy minor.
    • You will probably have to take some courses during that semester abroad. That’s fine! Use the Program Search tool on the Global Education Office (GEO) website to see which programs offer the courses you need. Experimenting with your schedule will hopefully yield a plan that enables you to study abroad!
  • GEO is hosting Zoom advising and information sessions. Learn about options for GEO advising and schedule an appointment!

Graphic of a person icon wearing a white lab coat and holding a clipboard with large text advertising the Research Pathway of Immersion Vanderbilt

  • Write a review paper on a subject that interests you. Alternatively, read some of the papers a PI you’re interested in working with has written and formulate your review around that. Reviews are usually written by experts in a field, so try to become the most knowledgeable expert by doing lots of reading!
  • Go to Google Scholar and search for papers on topics you’re interested in. Try to read at least one paper a week, and familiarize yourself with its figures and jargon. Look up words and terms that you don’t know.
  • Design an experimental protocol after familiarizing yourself with the work of a few interesting PIs. That way, when it’s time for you to start/continue researching, you can show them that you’ve already put a lot of thought into their lab. Include hypotheses, future directions, what you think will happen, etc.
  • If you’re already in a lab and have gathered some data, work on making visually appealing figures.
  • To access scientific papers at home, search the title of a paper from the Vanderbilt library catalog, Ex Libris Discovery, and download it.
General Immersion

Now that we are all stuck at home, you may have more free time in your schedule. Why not do something fun with it? Explore your interests, learn something new, or reconnect with an old hobby. If you feel yourself drawn to one thing more than others, take a moment to think whether that thing can be your Immersion project. If you love to play guitar, maybe you can create online guitar lessons. If you like to read poetry, maybe you can write a collection of poems. If you love playing Ultimate Frisbee, maybe you can create a curriculum to teach high school students how to play the game and develop skills like teamwork and communication. Find something you enjoy, and “pivot” with it—how can you turn your interests into a foundation from which to develop an Immersion project?

  • Get outside! It’s easy to fall into a routine of sleeping, eating, and working—switch it up! Take a walk, ride a bike, read a book in the fresh air… so many options! Taking a break every hour will help you speed up and relax, definitely a win-win.
  • It’s important to have regular sleep and eating schedules. Don’t let your overall health deteriorate during this crazy time! Make sure you try to eat healthy while away from campus. If you are having difficulty and need help coming up with ideas for healthy eating, campus dining is offering virtual nutrition counseling. Additionally, there are many resources if you are having trouble sleeping.
  • Apps such as Headspace and Calm are great tools for those looking to implement meditation and mindfulness into their daily routine. The University Counseling Center is also offering services remotely for students in need!
  • Though we may be separated by distance, try to reach out to friends via phone, FaceTime, Zoom, etc. You can even host a virtual movie or game night to stay connected!

These are just a few ideas of ways to stay involved from home, but there are plenty of other opportunities out there. If you have any question about your plan and the possibilities for Immersion Vanderbilt, schedule an advising appointment with the Office of Immersion Resources.

Stay safe,
Your Immersion Ambassadors

Prepared and organized by Sarah Lopez ‘22 with contributions from Andre Arsenault ‘22, Asia Miller ‘22, Nolan Siegel ‘23, and Yurim Hong ‘22

Photo of students standing behind an information table giving thumbs up with bubble tea
Bubble Tea Ambassador Session in Kissam