Podding: The Planning Process

One of the things that was harder this semester was collaborating with other students. A lot of Mudd classes and homework are better done in groups. Zoom can do a lot of things, but it’s not quite the same as gathering around a whiteboard with your friends. It can also be harder to concentrate on online classes if you are at home with family, due to distractions or shifted time zones. To solve this problem, some Mudders gathered in “pods” over the fall semester (including one of our bloggers, Mason, who wrote an excellent post on what it was like!) I did not for the fall semester, but once it was announced that Mudd would remain online only for at least most of the spring semester some friends and I began to look at planning a pod.

The three of us sitting in a circle on a rug with textbooks and paper

My friends and I studying together in person last year.

There is a lot to plan when you are looking at building a pod. First, because Mudd will have online learning for the whole semester there was no one specific place we needed to be, so we had to pick where we wanted to look for an apartment. California may have lovely weather, but it also has expensive rent! We ended up looking in Springfield, where I’m originally from, as it was the city with the cheapest rent where one of us had family. Missouri also has the benefit of being two time zones ahead of California, meaning that 7:30 am classes actually take place at 9:30 am. Not having 7:30 am classes was definitely a strong selling point.

A map of the US split up into time zones.

Time zones across the US. Missouri is in Central and Mudd is in Pacific. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Finding an apartment takes a lot of research, especially in times where touring possible apartments has to be done very carefully or not at all due to the pandemic. Websites that aggregate different places were very helpful. Travel plans also had to be considered, as well as quarantine plans so we could be as safe as possible. There are also a lot of other details that you don’t necessarily have to think about at college (like cooking) that we suddenly had to consider. Cooking means having food, which means figuring out grocery pick up. We also had to find furniture, and prep for budgeting. Planning overall took a lot of spreadsheets. (Yay for Physics Lab teaching us how to use formulas in spreadsheets to their full potential!) We’re planning on moving in in about a week, so keep your eyes on the blog this semester for more on what podding is like!