Students Share How They Made Their Remote Classrooms Actually Cool

Try to create a dedicated space, get near a window, and consider an under-desk spinning machine.
Hannah Smothers
Brooklyn, US
Collage via Canva
How we're adjusting our routines, habits, and mindsets for a new normal.

With more and more universities making the (probably wise) decision to go fully remote this semester because of the COVID-19 pandemic, students across the country are strapping in to spend more time than ever at their at-home desks, transforming them from places to occasionally study to the spots where they’ll take all their classes this fall. 

Some desk setups are elaborate and decorated; some are still in the construction phase, because students are finding out at the very last minute that in-person classes at their school are canceled; others aren’t even desks at all. VICE talked with students about how they’re preparing the place that will essentially serve as their classroom for the next four-plus months, and how they’re finding utility and functionality in chaotic times. 


Interviews have been lightly edited for length and clarity.


Photo courtesy of Fracheska Guerrero

“I’m a third year telecommunications student at the University of Florida. I’m also an international student from Costa Rica. Next semester, I will be taking my classes completely online because getting back into the U.S. from my country is really hard and expensive right now, and I don’t believe I will be safe there next semester. College students are always clustered together and you get sick constantly. Waiting outside in the Florida heat for a test is not attractive at all. My setup is in my living room because it gets the best light.” — Francheska Guerrero, 21 


Photo courtesy of Casi Brown

“I like to pedal while I work, mostly while working with ArcGIS because it is sooo slow, and Zooming. I’ve had my desk setup this way since late February, when my school announced campus closures.” — Casi Brown, 30

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Photo courtesy of Roxy Socarras

“My MFA program has decided to go online in the fall and I'm not mad about it. If classes were held in person, I would have probably deferred since I can't afford a move to NYC right now. The situation isn't ideal (especially considering the unchanged tuition price tag) but it gives me some time to get my financial shit together, so to speak. I live in a studio apartment with my partner (who types extremely loud), so my setup is divided by a bookcase in an attempt to block out the background noise. I write at my secretary desk which is surrounded by plants and novels.” — Roxy Socarras, 32 


Photo courtesy of Kalli Joslin

“This desk setup is VERY new. My fiancée and I moved from a studio apartment into a one bedroom in late June, in part so that I would have space for an actual desk instead of using our dining table. My desk arrived in early July, but we had to wait on an IKEA order for the rest of the pegboard accessories and the lamp, so it's only been set up this way since July 31. The desk and lamp were specifically purchased for my virtual classes this fall (and honestly, probably spring). Because I also sell commissioned embroidery pieces and we have limited storage, it doubles as my embroidery workspace.” — Kalli Joslin, 23


Photo courtesy of Troy Galvan

“My remote class setup is simple: Just bought a desk, MacBook Pro and a notebook. I am taking music production classes, so I will eventually buy a keyboard and other stuff.” — Troy Galvan, 31 


Photo courtesy of Pedro Murillo

“I’ll be smoking weed and sitting in front of my computer for eight hours while paying full price for the semester. Having my setup near a window is a must, just to give the brain something to look at whenever the online class gets obnoxious.” — Pedro Murillo, 22