OPINION: Journal of a student stuck in quarantine

*Columns are the opinions of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wichitan as an organization.*

Quarantine Day 4, 10: 50 p.m. (11/2/20)

My roommates came in contact with a good friend and teammate who tested positive for COVID-19. I live in the Sunwatcher apartments, so we just share a kitchen and living room. I rarely ever see them, but here I am, quarantined until November 11. When I first found out, I was bummed, but I couldn’t blame my roommates. They are perfectly nice people, and the friend that got COVID is perfectly nice too, so I had no person to be mad at. It could happen to anyone.

 I had anger at the situation but no one to direct it towards. I layed in bed for the whole first day of quarantine and watched Gilmore Girls, a show I’ve already seen that brings me great comfort. As I watched the small fictional town crowd together and sit shoulder to shoulder for a town hall meeting, a thought crossed my mind for just an instant before I caught myself: why aren’t they wearing any masks? After that, I began to notice more and more luxuries in this old way of life that we just don’t have right now. Best friends hugged in the street. People shook hands when they met for the first time. Old friends who haven’t seen each other in forever ran into each other at the supermarket and hugged without hesitation or fear of judgment, and there was no mask to cover up their smiles. The diner was full of life; all the tables were occupied, and genuine smiles were not hard to come by as people conversed over meals, free of the fear of germs. Hopefully one day we get some of that back. Maybe one day we can laugh really hard with a group of friends without worrying in the back of our minds that one of us could get extremely ill from the interaction. Until that day comes, we just have to keep on doing our best and following all the guidelines, washing our hands, wearing the masks and quarantining if we have to.

youtube yoga video
Ellie follows along with YouTube yoga videos.

Personally, I start my quarantine mornings by making my bed and doing a YouTube yoga class to prevent myself from laying in bed all day, and I end my days by yelling the lyrics to Sweet Caroline (among other upbeat, embarrassing songs) in the shower, because my roommates live all the way on the other side of the apartment, so why not? In between the yoga and the shower, I attempt to focus on homework, but I frequently find myself gazing out of my first story window that faces a parking lot. I’ve found that rolling up the blinds and letting the sunshine in all day drastically improves my mood. It also increases productivity when I don’t get distracted by the cars pulling out of the parking spots in front of my window, coming and going freely as they choose. On Halloween night, my second night in quarantine, I heard the distant music echoing from Legacy courtyard and saw the occasional student with the purple sequined witch hat stroll by. Life happened around me while I sat around eating bad food, doing homework and watching Gilmore Girls.

Ellie works on homework.

Despite the loneliness and the incessant nagging of my conscience telling me that I am a failure if I am not productive while in quarantine, I know I have no right to be irritated by my situation. I am healthy, with absolutely no symptoms. I am only here because my university cares about its students enough to take extra preventative measures for those who may have been exposed. It should be comforting knowledge really that housing guidelines threaten to kick people out of housing if they don’t abide by quarantine rules. The reality is that it could be much worse for me.

 My heart goes out to anyone who has tested positive. No matter how severe the case, I can’t imagine how scary it must be to be sick with this virus that we’ve heard about on the news for nine months now and be alone. My dad got COVID-19 over the summer, so my mom and I stayed (emotionally) by his side and quarantined in the same house as him. In college, you’re on your own. You can FaceTime with family members and friends all day and still feel the weight of being physically alone. Even after the quarantine, people still seem to avoid COVID-19 survivors, as if they have some sort of lifelong contagious curse. 

To the college student that avoids parties and always wears a mask but still tested positive for COVID-19, as you start your quarantine, just remember that in the apartment next to yours, or the apartment across the street, another student is lying down in a similar state of isolated fear. You’re not alone, and you’re not being dramatic. You are allowed to feel scared. I won’t end this by saying that everything is going to be okay and that the world will return to a Gilmore Girls like state. I will say, however, that I am thinking about you, and I know that any person who has ever been in quarantine is thinking about people like you too. I’m sorry you’re in this situation, and I wish the absolute best for you.  

Ellie starts off her days in quarantine with yoga.

My Rules of Quarantine to promote productivity and mental health (created on day 3)

  1. I must make my bed every morning. In regular life, I am not a stickler for this (why make the bed if you’re just going to get back in it anyway right?), but in quarantine life, it makes me feel mentally stable. I do not allow myself to get under the covers until I am ready for bed. If I don’t want to sit at my desk and do homework, I can sit on my made bed and use my throw blankets. All of this prevents me from lying in bed all day. I must stay productive.
  2. I must do yoga every morning. Without the activity of walking to class and work all the time, my body needs something to do. Exercise creates endorphins, and endorphins make people happy, and happy people don’t kill their husbands, right? (I’m not insane. It’s a Legally Blonde reference.) Amendment made on day 6: I don’t have to do full-on yoga every morning. That’s not a very reasonable ask for someone who accidentally stayed up until 4:30 a.m. and has a presentation the next day. I can get my exercise and endorphins by dancing around to Pandora’s Happy radio while I brush my teeth.
  3. I must get ready every morning and get dressed in something that isn’t sweatpants. Sweatpants make me want to lay in bed (under the covers by God) and watch Gilmore Girls all day, and just because I’m in quarantine doesn’t mean I don’t have lots of papers and projects to catch up on.  Amendment made on day 5: sweatpants are okay. Just don’t wear pajamas all day.
  4. I am not allowed to watch Gilmore Girls before lunch. Between yoga time and lunchtime is when I must be productive, so I do not allow myself to be sucked into the plot until I eat lunch. I convince myself that it’s okay to watch tv while I eat because I can’t really be productive while I eat anyway.