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Nails 101: A Student Blog

Week 13: The Second Semester Begins. Or Does It?

by Gregory Fletcher | March 25, 2020
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As of this writing this instalment of my nail student blog may be the last one for a while. Similar to many schools and other institutions around the world, due to the threat of the coronavirus pandemic classes at San Diego City College have been suspended until further notice. The college teaching staff has been directed to develop remote/alternative modalities for instruction. However, since the curriculum for the second semester nail tech students consists primarily of providing client services, it is unclear how that goal can be achieved. 

In any event, allow me to tell you about my first, albeit short, week of nail school:

On Monday, March 9, 2020, our first day of class began with much excitement and anticipation. Since the first semester ended in late November 2019, it had been three months since I last saw my classmates. (BTW, I received an A grade for the first semester.) As can be imagined there was much communal gladness at reconnecting with the returning students; and of course curiosity and sadness for the students who had not returned. I shared that I had spent much of the three months practicing at a friend’s salon; but that I was eager to practice on someone else besides myself or Thelma and Louise. 

By the way, another activity I participated in during the hiatus was attending the three-day International Salon and Spa Expo (ISSE) held January in Long Beach, Calif. You may read about my experience here.

I arrived to class early partly out of eagerness to begin the new semester and partly to snag a prime seat. I noticed during the first semester that the Nail Tech 2 students had arranged themselves in the rows of nail desks in the back of the classroom. So now that I was an upperclassman I felt I deserved to sit at one of the prime location desks. Which of course I did. 

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So while catching up with my classmates and defending my chosen territory, I also took the opportunity to observe how the incoming Nail Tech 1 students navigated the unfamiliar classroom and sorted themselves out. If I was expecting mass confusion and helplessness on their part, I was soon disappointed. For the most part they arrived appearing more or less confident, properly attired in their uniforms and bearing their official class kits. (The same kits the Nail Tech 2 students had long ago abandoned in favor of assembling their own tools and supplies.) The new students appeared to be no more or less clueless than had our class been on our first day. Consequently my sensation of smugness at being a Nail Tech 2 student was short lived.

Because the Nail Tech 2 class is so large (over 30 students returned) we cannot rely on a sufficient number of walk-in clients for all of us to practice on. Therefore during the break from school I had recruited some willing (gullible) volunteers to allow me to perform services on them when nail school resumed. Consequently I looked forward to practicing on actual clients and hopefully starting to develop client relationships that would continue after I graduated.

Monday and Tuesday were primarily used to review the syllabus and cover the expectations for the semester. Since one instructor concurrently manages both levels of students, the initial orientation process can take some time. Finally on Wednesday I had my first client … a walk-in client who wanted her acrylic nails removed. While I had a theoretical understanding of acrylic removal from studying the subject during the prior semester, I had never actually removed anyone’s acrylic nails before. So following a momentary sense of panic I managed to settle down and with a chisel and a strong pair of pliers I was able to remove the acrylic. I am kidding of course. Admittedly it did take me a while to remove the acrylic, but I had help and encouragement from my classmates. I learned a lot from the experience and ultimately the client stated she may return some day for a pedicure or other service. Unfortunately it may be some time before her sincerity about returning is tested. But I hope she does.

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On Thursday I had the opportunity to perform a pedicure specifically requested by one of my classmates. After one semester I may actually be developing some expertise with pedicures. I am encouraged in that thinking since that was not the first time a classmate had requested a pedicure from me. I have learned that although performing pedicures may not exactly be the most glamorous service that nail technicians provide, the results can be especially dramatic and gratifying.

Then on Friday …. well, Friday never happened. Before class started we were advised that the entire campus was closed and that classes were cancelled until further notice. And that is the current situation. Schools everywhere are tasked with developing strategies for providing instruction off-campus. But it is a mystery how that can be accomplished for hands-on cosmetology courses. For now it is hard not to be bitter. Especially after the built-up anticipation of commencing this phase of my journey … and then to have it come to such an abrupt and unexpected halt. I know in the long run my disappointment will prove to just be a mere annoyance; and one which pales in comparison to the hardships and tragedies suffered by others. This too shall pass.

Until next time, take care of yourself … and each other.

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