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Collected Item: “My COVID Pandemic Experience”

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My COVID Pandemic Experience

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Text Story

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I have experienced a rollercoaster of emotions and many new situations during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Washington State, there were many people cases of COVID reported before mid-March. For weeks, there was a buzz around my high school about the possibility of us doing online school. As a senior in high school, I was excited to have an extra week of spring break because the senior-itis was starting to kick in. On March 11, 2020, my school announced that we were going to be sent home and get an extra week or two of spring break. Even though they said it was just going to be an extra-long spring break, we brought all of our school work and supplies home in case we were online for a longer time.

In the beginning, I remember my friends and I talked about how we would hang out every day and do online school together. We had many ideas of how we would spend the time together by going to coffee shops, and we even considered figuring out a way to all be together in Hawaii. Little did we know that this pandemic was going to be a much larger problem than we had expected. About a week or two into quarantine, we stopped believing that COVID would only affect the elderly, and we learned more about how we could spread the virus. Naturally, my family went into lockdown mode, and we did not see anyone else except for our "germ circle" for months.

When Washington went into lockdown, my senior-year activities got canceled. Unlike other high schools, we did not have a traditional homecoming ceremony or football game because we were an all-girls high school. Because we did not have a big homecoming celebration, all of our senior-year traditions were towards the end of the year. The weekend we went into lockdown, we were supposed to have our senior-skip day. I was also supposed to help host a retreat for my school that weekend after preparing for it for months. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a lot of hope that by May, we would have our Senior Class Day assembly, prom, and graduation. As cases, deaths, and hospitalizations grew, these events ended up being virtual.

While it was not enjoyable to be missing these events I had been looking forward to, I still managed to find ways to make the most of quarantine. I went to school every day from eight in the morning to two in the afternoon. It was nice having school online because I could do most of my work in class or between classes, so then I could have my afternoons free to talk to my friends or hang out with my family and my dogs. My family got to spend cherished time together during quarantine before I went to college. My family went on a lot of hikes and bathed our dogs a lot. It was easy to stay in touch with my close friends over FaceTime. We spent a lot of time on Netflix Party, and we Face Timed almost every lunch period. We spent many days learning TikTok dances, baking bread, muffins, and pizza, and trying to get our old Nintendo DS to work.

As quarantine went on, it became more evident that I would probably not be going abroad for my first semester of college. I was going to go to Dublin, Ireland, but in June, I switched to going to London. Unfortunately, these locations closed, so I ended up going to Boston. I am very grateful that my university opened a program in Boston, so I did not have to do my first semester of college from home. Throughout the summer, I worked on picking classes, trying to meet people online, and packing up my things for college. The idea of going to college gave me something to be excited about, and I was more confident about the chances of my university remaining open. My university put many systems in place, such as getting tested every three days, not allowing indoor dining at first, and having more places to study for social distancing.

Besides getting ready for college, during the summer, I spent more time with my friends as restrictions started to be less strict. I self-quarantined for two weeks, and then three of my closest friends and I went to Oregon for the weekend to stay in my friend's family cabin. It was very nice to spend time alone with my friends and still be isolated because we did not go out very much and we only spent time together. I also spent most of my time making cloth masks for my family, friends, and elderly neighbors. It was nice to have a project that made me feel like I was making a difference. During the pandemic, I kept seeing photos and videos of healthcare workers struggling with the lack of PPE and the immense amount of COVID hospitalizations. As a student who is studying to be a nurse, I felt so helpless staying home and not being in a hospital being able to help people.

Eventually, the back-to-school season came around, and I got ready to make the cross-country move to Boston. My mom and I packed up all of my things, got our COVID tests, and headed to the east coast. Surprisingly, it felt somewhat safe to travel, and the hotel we stayed in had a lot of safety precautions. When I arrived, I got my COVID test, picked up my ID, and moved into my dorm. Due to all of the restrictions, my mom and I had to say goodbyes outside of my dorm. Then, I was alone in a new city, and it was the start of a strange first semester of college.

First, I was living in a hotel in the middle of the city. It was so nice to have such a big room and not share a bathroom with 20 other people, but surprisingly, living in a hotel is not like "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody." Without a way to be able to make food, I always had to go to campus to get food, even if I did not have any in-person classes. I spent a lot of time studying in the library to try and get out of my room, but it was often tiring because I always had to wear a mask and couldn't collaborate with others. I spent a lot of time adjusting to my new life and college classes. While I only took general education courses, it was still an adjustment to taking some fully asynchronous classes and taking rigorous courses after having easier, online high school courses.

Despite these challenges, I eventually fell into a routine, and I spent a lot of time exploring Boston. My program put on a lot of socially distanced activities to help us to get to know the city. I went to the aquarium, some museums, and I went on a trip to Cape Cod. All of these activities were experiences I would not have usually considered doing. I also explored the city by myself. I walked the Freedom Trail, went to Cambridge, and went on walks through the green spaces around the city. I loved being in a new city, but this semester was also very lonely.

Even though I made a few close friends, it is hard to make new friends while being safe with the COVID restrictions. I tried to have a positive attitude about this situation, but it was often difficult to think about how this first semester of college could have been. It was strange to think that I could have been in a foreign country and traveling to other countries during breaks. I often thought about how there would be more people spending time in each other's rooms and people stopping by each other's rooms if we kept our doors open. I am lucky that I could be on campus in Boston this semester because I got to join a service fraternity called Alpha Phi Omega. Through that pledging process, I got to meet many upperclassmen and other first-year students, and I got to be involved in the Boston community.

Now, I am home for the holidays, but I am even more worried about COVID because cases are rising. There is some hope on the horizon with the progress that the vaccines have been making. I am hopeful that my future semesters in college will be better, and I hope that people will continue to be safe and protect each other.

Who originally created this object? (If you created this object, such as photo, then put "self" here.)

Millie McChesney

Give this story a date.

2020-03-11
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