It's been about a month since all Stony Brook University students were kicked off campus and advised to quarantine at our own homes. COVID-19 really turned our semester upside down and there are even rumors about online classes for next fall, too. This experience will forever be ingrained in our memories of college. From our campus's peaceful protest to everyone spending all their dining dollars to people hacking our Zoom accounts, it all goes down in history.
We are all in this together, but every student has had a different experience. Here's what five Stony Brook students have to say about their quarantine:
Where are you spending quarantine? What's the vibe?
Jenni: I'm home with my mom, dad, boyfriend, and doggie. I'm spending my days upside down in a handstand or headstand as I practice yoga and meditative movement. All the same, my parents are anxious on a normal day so this quarantine has spiked everything up, but we're all good – always laughing and cracking jokes. Honestly, my family should have our own reality T.V. show, there is always something going on and my drama queen mother lives off of theatrics.
Jimmy: My time during quarantine is being split between being cooped up in my room playing Fortnite and then going into work. The vibe of the former is pretty nice, I can just relax in bed doing absolutely nothing with my life, but the whole work thing is stressful. Why Yeezy's are considered essential is beyond me, but apparently Dick's Sporting Goods disagrees. I understand home gym equipment being a necessity, but we sold out of everything we had weeks ago, and now the only thing we are selling are hypebeast related products like Lebron James jerseys and Air Force 1s.
Zenab: I'm spending quarantine at my parent's house. I expected it to be a lot worse (more fighting and arguing) but it's actually been kind of chill. There are little disputes here and there but the overall vibe is just chill.
Andrew: I am spending quarantine at home with my family. The vibe is stable. Everyone is trying to do their best. I am definitely able to control my diet since I have not been going out to eat fast food. I am also keeping myself physically, mentally, and emotionally healthier.
Nawaal: I'm spending quarantine in the house I grew up in, with my two sisters and parents. The vibe is that we are trying to balance work and fun while trying not to step on each other's toes.
How do you feel about our university's response to COVID-19?
Jenni: I think the administration never meant to hurt anyone or cause the distress that they did end up generating. We're in a health crisis for goodness sake, the school doesn't wish that. However, there were so many rumors spread around that classes would go online, that we would be kicked off, etc. so people were in a frenzy. Even teachers had no clue what was going on and that added a ton of stress to students, who, by the way, were already freaking out over midterm season.
Jimmy: My university's response to the pandemic was frustrating. Though I am happy with the outcome (I mean we got a week extra for our spring break so is it all that bad??), but the process of getting the university to tell us the outcome was infuriating. We got emails after emails saying nothing noteworthy, just telling us to 'hang in there while we figure out wtf to do.' Obviously in professional terms, but still. Getting those kinds of emails was not helpful because I started actually checking my email regularly for once and I got so excited to see a message from my university, and seeing that there was nothing substantial in it was such a letdown. It's like asking your mom if you can go to a friend's house and she says 'Ask your dad' so you go and ask your dad and he says 'Go ask mom.'
Zenab: In the beginning stages, I was completely devastated and sad that they chose to make school online and not let anyone in the dorms— I thought it was a bit unnecessary and extra. Now seeing how things have changed so quickly I am grateful for them making the decision that they did and I have actually grown very used to the online classes and actually starting to enjoy them a little bit.
Andrew: I felt that the university's response to COVID-19 was handled responsibly and it helped with keeping students safe. From what I heard about how the online classes are structured, along with some of the technical issues, all of that could have been handled better.
Nawaal: Regarding our university's response to COVID-19, people were unhappy with being "kept in the dark" as there was some ambiguity as to what was going on. I believe that the situation was unprecedented and the university did the best they could given the circumstances. It must have been hard for the administration to decide what to do. The biggest inconvenience for me was leaving for spring break, coming home, and then the next day having to go back to clear all of my stuff from the room. However, I can't complain because by the time my university was evacuated I caught wind that other universities were still scrambling, and one of my friends from a different school was not even given the opportunity to retrieve her stuff when her university was shut down.
When did you start to know it was serious? When did you start taking action?
Jenni: Once I started to hear the rumors about classes shifting online for the rest of the semester, I realized something was wrong. I was thrilled to hear that I could be home for good (I'm such a homebody), but people were getting crazy about COVID-19 and campus started getting eery. But, I really realized something wasn't right when my local yoga studio closed – I was not a happy camper.
Jimmy: I started taking this whole thing seriously when I was in the hospital for a sports injury during the heat of the outbreak. Now I'm ordinarily a very laid back and care-free dude, but the thought of being in the ER with a torn patella and getting surgery was terrifying to me. To make matters worse, the doctors gave me an oatmeal raisin cookie after I passed out post-surgery. Who likes oatmeal raisin? But fortunately, so far I have managed to stay healthy, but this was a real eye-opener for me.
Zenab: When the school sent an email saying that everyone needed to evacuate from the dorms. I knew that it was an issue a week before, but I thought it was something that was just very rare and people were acting crazy and had an extreme "better safe than sorry mentality." I started taking action about 3 days after I evacuated from the school, and that is when it really started to get serious. I only left the house when necessary and I practiced social distancing.
Andrew: I started to know it was serious when Broadway got closed down. I started taking action around mid-March when experts were talking about people over a certain age being at high risk.
Nawaal: I started to realize that the situation was serious when the university told us to evacuate the premises. Also when I was watching my dad and sister going to work (they are in healthcare) and feeling so much fear for their safety. My dad was filling me in on the situation at his hospital and the severity of the virus finally clicked. He said that so many people were dying every day. I took action by social distancing, steaming my face, and staying at home.
What do you miss most about being on campus?
Jenni: I wish I could say I miss being on campus, but I don't. I love being at home. I work best at home and my boyfriend is at home with me, so I'm in my own little sanctuary. Nevertheless, I do miss physically teaching at the campus gym and being with everyone to cheer them on through all their sweat and tears.
Jimmy: I never thought I would admit to missing school, but the truth is, I really do. We still obviously have classes, though they are online, which honestly is pretty nice. When was the last time you could say you went to calc II in your boxers? But the things I miss? I really miss the people I've met and the friends I've made who I can't see anymore. I miss getting together with my team and practicing, I miss the long drives to games. I miss jamming out to Lil Pump at 3 in the morning as we all drive 8 hours just to play a 2 hour game of baseball. I miss the celebrations we had after winning it in extra innings. I miss the friends I've made, and the communities I am a part of.
Zenab: I miss being around my friends and having lunch and dinner together and working out together. I still talk to them almost every day, but I miss being physically close to them.
Andrew: I miss participating with fundraisers, watching the boat races at Roth Regatta, enjoying the activities at Relax-a-thon, and hanging out with friends at club meetings.
Nawaal: What I miss most about being on campus is seeing my friends and living with my roommate. I miss them so much. Facetime is great but it's not the same.
What's something you didn't realize you'd miss?
Jenni: I didn't realize I'd miss my schedule as much as I do. In the first two weeks of quarantine, I had no idea what I was doing. There was no schedule and I felt lost. I live off my calendar, but the day I learned we were being kicked off of campus, I deleted everything off of it. I was left with a bunch of empty boxes and it was the weirdest feeling. Now, I'm getting back into my rhythm, I have my workout schedule, my study schedule, my virtual teaching schedule, but, in all honesty, it's not the same.
Jimmy: I definitely miss a lot, but one thing I didn't realize I'd miss was going to the gym. Every day I trudge to the gym, I dream of getting hit by a bus on my way there. But I really took that for granted because now that I can't go to the gym, it's all I want to do. After following a really rigid routine in an effort to lose 80 pounds, I got 70 pounds in, but then gyms shut down. No problem I thought. I'll work out at home and lose the last 10. But then I got injured. It's like God wants me to be fat. Maybe I'll get that burger. Make it a double.
Zenab: The gym. I completely took the gym for granted. At school, I would go to the gym every morning at 9 am and at the time I would think "I really don't wat to get out of bed, but I'll just do it anyway." Now I miss waking up early and starting off my day right with a good workout. I felt happier, healthier, and more motivated. It is hard staying active when you're in quarantine, so that's why I try and go jogging whenever the weather is nice.
Andrew: Something I didn't realize I would miss is the freedom to go out places and enjoy the things that I like such as movies, bowling, nice restaurants, parks, and the mall.
Nawaal: Something I didn't realize I would miss is the physical classroom setting, and being able to walk from one place to another to change my environment. I used to find it so annoying that I had to walk all around campus. Now I realize that I benefited from moving around, and I actually prefer learning in a classroom where I can see my classmates and my professors. Also, there are only so many places in my house to go to. The lack of variety gets boring. I wish I could study in my university's library right now.
What's the first thing you're doing when you get back?
Jenni: Hug my best friend/roommate Andria, duh.
Jimmy: The first thing I am doing once things return to normal is picking up a baseball, and having a catch with the first person I see, I don't care if it's my 97-year-old grandmother in a wheelchair, I'm hurling that ball to her so she better has a glove handy. This virus has canceled or postponed not only my team's season but the seasons of all professional sports. I can't even flip on the Dodgers game while I do homework because there is no Dodgers game.
Zenab: Going to the gym and using actual weights instead of heavy water bottles to work on strength training. Also having a movie night with all of my friends.
Andrew: The first thing I will do when I get back is be inducted to the National Society of Leadership and Success and attend workshops at the Innovation Lab, meet friends for lunch on campus, and stop by the Staller Center for the Arts.
Nawaal: The first thing I'm doing when I get back is giving my friends hugs, and taking advantage of the library.
How are you helping those around you?
Jenni: I'm staying as proactive as I can. I am teaching yoga, meditation, Zumba, etc. on Instagram and through our school for those in need of some movement, I am continuing my work with the campus on sexual health education, and I'm continuously providing encouragement to my friends, family, and peers. Plus, I've written letters of support to those in nearby hospitals and nursing homes.
Jimmy: One thing I am doing to help people is by writing letters to nursing homes. These homes no longer allow visitors, and the thought of the elderly not being able to see their loved ones is heartbreaking. Some may not even know why no one is coming to see them and that crushes my heart. I try to send one card out a week to any random nursing homes.
Zenab: I've been helping my family around the house a bit more than usual like doing dishes, laundry, and just tidying up.
Andrew: I am helping those around me by following the rules enforced by the WHO, CDCP, and Governor Cuomo, doing the shopping for my grandmother, and driving family to doctor's appointments.
Nawaal: I am helping the people around me by checking in on them, and most importantly, staying at home.