April 23, 2020

Did you change your spring break plans because of the virus? From what to what?

Yes. I was going to travel to LA to visit a friend, but instead I cancelled my trip and stayed in Austin.

How did you feel when you were informed the remainder of the semester would be held online?

It really came as a bit of a shock at first. The severity of the situation honestly hadn’t completely hit me until all of our lives were suddenly being uprooted by this invisible threat. At first, I was admittedly a little bit excited about having an extended spring break, and I assumed that everything would go back to normal soon enough. I wasn’t too worried about taking my classes online for a few weeks. But as the weeks have gone by, the reality of this situation, and all of the uncertainty and fear that comes with it, has really started to set in.

Where will you be living while courses are held online? Is this a change from usual?

Usually I live on campus, but I had to move back to my mom’s house when we were asked to move out of our residence halls.

What has been your experience with moving classes online? What’s good? What’s not so good?

Switching to online classes hasn’t been too much of a challenge so far, but it has definitely been an adjustment. The main thing that I struggle with is time management and procrastination thanks to the lack of structure. But this lack of structure is also nice in some ways. I get to choose how I spend my time pretty much every hour of the day; and this has given me more freedom to explore my creativity, and to more-deeply engage with the topics from my classes that I find particularly interesting.

How has the virus (and the precautions taken to prevent it spreading) impacted your daily life?

The virus has deeply impacted my daily life. I used to go to class, go out with friends, go out to eat, take short trips when I had a few days off, etc. Now most of my life happens indoors, in one place, with the same people. My mom is very scared about getting the virus, so there’s a constant undertone of tension and fear in our household. But it’s also really nice to get to spend more time with her and with my two younger sisters (one of whom normally lives in Missouri where she goes to school) than I’m able to when we’re all too busy with our normal routines.

How worried are you about getting the virus?

I’m fairly confident that if I got the virus I would be ok, although I know that that’s not a given. I’m really more worried about my parents and older relatives being exposed to it, and about the vulnerable populations in my community and communities around the world, who don’t have access to the resources necessary to cope with this disaster.

Do you know anyone who has gotten COVID-19?

I’m very lucky to be able to say that so far no one close to me has been infected.

Are you staying in? What are you doing to pass the time?

For the most part I stay in. It’s a struggle at times trying to avoid cabin fever and keep myself entertained (in a way that doesn’t involve falling down a Netflix rabbit hole); but I also have more time to read for fun, paint, learn to cook something (other than milk and cereal), exercise, and reflect on myself and my goals for the future.

Are you going out? Where do you go and what is it like?

I only go out to get groceries, and to go for walks on the nature trail by my house. The atmosphere at the grocery store in the first few weeks felt very apocalyptic: barren shelves on every aisle, people scrambling for supplies and fighting over toilet paper and hand sanitizer…  Although it has been getting better as everyone is adjusting to our new reality, this “survival mode” mentality  is something I had never experienced before in my lifetime, and it really has changed the way that our society functions on every level.

What is giving you hope and/or strength right now?

Something that’s giving me hope right now is seeing the way in which people are coming together online to support and uplift one another through these trying times. While this is undeniably a very scary situation, I also like to see it as an opportunity for us all to acknowledge our collective humanity. This virus is affecting everyone indiscriminately. It has no regard for nationality, race, or socioeconomic status; and because of this I think that in some ways it’s really bringing us together through our shared experience.