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OPINION: First-year student describes quarantine experience


I’ve spent the first two weeks of my freshman year in quarantine. I spent a couple months and a 1,050-mile car ride anticipating these first few days of college, thinking of who I would meet and the new memories I would make.  

It was my first morning on campus and I was with a few friends I met the day before when I received the call that I had to quarantine. To my surprise, the day before during my move in I was in close contact with someone who tested positive. This completely befuddled me, because I came to UNH not knowing anyone and everyone I had met on my first day did not receive a call. 

Honestly, I did not take this news well. I understand the school’s precautions, but as I thought about how I had my graduation, prom, last varsity soccer season, summer, and now my first weeks at school taken away from me, I became overwhelmed. I know in retrospect these seem insignificant but they are huge milestones. These are all important memories the freshmen class never got to make.  

Thankfully though my parents were staying a few extra nights before heading home so I was able to stay with them before moving into Adam’s Tower West. It was definitely not the way we wanted to say “see you later”. They were very worried about me being alone and so far from home, which I don’t blame them. I was nervous too. Soon after I moved into the room, and with a little help from my friends and family, I began to look on the bright side of the situation. 

On-campus quarantine, no matter how you got there is not the best situation to be in. I would love to be quarantining at home, but like others that isn’t an option for me so I have developed some ways to manage my time and stay sane. 

I think the number one priority in this situation is maintaining health. Being in quarantine will affect your health mentally and physically. You’re in a room alone and there is only so much screen time you can handle before you find yourself pacing in boredom. As an active person, the reality of not being allowed outside triggered a lot of anxiety inside of me. So, I decided to try and combat my boredom and anxiety with a routine. 

Wake up, eat breakfast, go to class, workout, eat lunch, read, do homework, mess around with photoshop, journal, workout, eat dinner, FaceTime my friends and family, watch Love Island virtually with my cousin, and go to sleep. Of course, it feels repetitive and I don’t do the same exact thing every day, but incorporating things I would do normally like working out, reading, and doing homework makes the time there feel a little more normal. At times I do find myself pacing the room in boredom, so I throw on some jams and get my steps in. 

Staying positive is so crazy important, and hard. You will overcome quarantine and will come out stronger! For me, seeing people out and about and having fun on Snapchat or Instagram really dampens my spirit, the fear of missing out (FOMO) is real. Instead of fixating on the fact that I can’t leave, I FaceTime my brother or my friends to cheer me up. If they are busy, I do something to distract myself. In my case I love to draw and do yoga so I fill up my time doing that. The point is, for the sake of mental wellbeing, stay away from things that will strike up sadness and anxiety and instead I strongly encourage doing something else like calling someone that will help keep the positive vibes strong and will be supportive. If there’s no one to call, the school offers counseling and support so complete loneliness doesn’t have to be an option. 

Below are some suggestions and resources I have for those in quarantine feeling similarly to the way I do: 

Packing for the Bubble 

There are towels and bed sheets already in the dorm, so the rest is up to you. I suggest bringing a reusable water bottle, a warm blanket, cozy sweatshirts, school supplies, and basic toiletries. Besides that, bring things that will keep you busy like a yoga mat, books, speaker, etc. Whatever will help you when you’re not in class or studying. 

Eating well helps 

You get three meals a day from the dining hall where you can choose what you want prior but if you’re hungry in between meals make sure to bring some comfort snacks to get you through. Also, not to sound like your doctor, but make sure to try and order some veggies and fruit. Eating well helps the body and mind function better, especially since you’re out of your normal routine. Good food can also boost your energy, counteract the impact of stress, and positively affect mood related body chemicals. For example, some nutrients that play a role in combating depression include B12, folate, and omega 3 acids. So, eating foods like beans, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or apples will definitely make a cognitive difference. 

Get fit 

If you’re familiar with yoga or Pilates the majority of those workouts are done on a mat. Mat workouts can easily be done in a small space which makes the temporary dorm a perfect spot. Working out is important during quarantine because you’re not moving the same amount you would be on a normal basis so getting in motion will help maintain mental and physical health. Some free online workout classes I like to do include: 

  • @jjweeks_pilates on Instagram 
  • @pilates949 on Instagram 
  • Peloton’s free trial for a variety of mat strength and cardio workouts 

Tips for keeping your mind at ease… 

Like I said earlier, all this time alone isn’t healthy, so it’s important to stay busy in the right ways. The right way means setting some time to address how you’re feeling and build up self-motivation. 

  • Download Headspace! It’s a great meditation app that actually helps! They offer a student discount, tons of meditation packs, and mindful workouts. 
  • Study! Take this time to get ahead in classes, organize yourself and relieve some academic stress by getting work done. 
  • Read! If reading isn’t your thing, try to do something else that will make your mind happy. 
  • Watch some funny movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, and TikToks! A good laugh is much needed and will help a lot. (Some of my television shows on Netflix are Parks and Rec, New Girl, That 70’s show, Tales by the Light, and Criminal Minds.) 
  • Relax, don’t forget to get good sleep and try to have a wind down routine to give yourself a sense of normalcy to finish off your day. 
  • Journal! What you’re going through is extremely tough and you will get through this. Writing down what’s going on right now will not only help you feel less anxious it will help make sense of what you’re feeling. It will also be an interesting read in the future. 
  • Podcasts! A good podcast playing in the background when you’re laying down or just looking out the window helps keep your mind from wandering. My favorite podcast is Ologies with Allie Ward on Spotify. 
  • Music! Silence isn’t a bad thing but too much of it can be overwhelming especially being alone. Throw on background music! From hype songs to lo-fi beats, listen to what will help your mind feel a little happier in that moment. 
  • Call your friends and family! I can’t say this enough, it helps with the need for human interaction and socialization. You could even set up a Netflix party with some buds. 

Despite wearing a mask, testing negative, and doing everything “right,” with a little bit of bad luck, quarantine can easily become a reality. Make sure you’re being socially responsible, taking care of yourself, and considering others. If you’re experiencing symptoms get tested and wear your mask so that less people will miss out on the college experience. 

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