When Pepperdine first announced on March 11 that classes would be going remote and all students would have to move out of on-campus housing, I was filled with sadness and uncertainty. It meant I would be leaving my friends and Pepperdine community much earlier than anticipated, and instead moving in with my aunt and her family in Long Beach.
I didn’t know how I would fit into the lives of my extended family or what my life would look like in a month, let alone after the semester ended. The statewide shutdown that followed shortly brought even more uncertainty as the life I had grown accustomed to since moving to mainland U.S.A. for my freshman year of college was completely altered.
What I didn’t know was that my extended time with family in isolation would have a number of silver linings and life lessons that would alter my perspective in so many ways. Here are some of the most important things I’ve learned.
1. The importance of developing strong familial relationships.
Growing up on Saipan, the U.S. territory next to Guam, I never got to know my off-island extended family very well because we lived far away and our visits to the continental U.S. were limited.
By staying in Long Beach for quarantine with my parents, I gained time with my aunt, uncle, and cousins that I never would have had otherwise. Growing closer to them is one of the things I am most grateful to have gained during this strange experience.
My family is truly incredible—each of the seven people in our “family unit” has a special place in my heart. My aunt and her family welcomed me into their home and their lives, and we have now spent countless hours talking and laughing together.
Strong relationships with family are invaluable and something I will always seek out in the future.
2. How to find joy in being stationary.
I have always enjoyed being busy—in a typical semester, I can be found tirelessly hopping from activity to activity. Some of my favorite times at Pepperdine involved juggling 18 units and several extracurriculars, dutiful attendance of weekly on-campus events, and various social commitments with friends.
Quarantine has been vastly different. My life has slowed down considerably—my typical on the go lifestyle has shifted to one in which I am much more comfortable spending the day at home.
My family and I developed some nighttime quarantine habits which made the transition considerably more enjoyable. We had delicious family dinners every night followed by warm homemade cookies and a number of fun activities: long talks in the jacuzzi, laughing as we competitively played board games, and watching way too much Netflix (there may have been some Tiger King binge-watching early on).
I learned how to be content in quieter moments. My day no longer has to be jam-packed with activity to be considered good—I am now able to find joy in spending my day chilling and not doing too much at all.
While I thought the reduced activity forced on by quarantine would be stifling, it has actually given me a greater appreciation for relaxation. It has also made me grateful for the activities I was still able to do with my family and all of the ones I missed out on due to quarantine.
3. The importance of trying new things.
I have always been a bit intimidated by doing the things I’m not good at, especially in front of other people, despite knowing that it’s the only way to improve. The people surrounding me during quarantine have challenged me to overcome this mindset. My cousin is always reminding me that the only way to get better at something is to keep trying.
I am not very good at all the things I have tried in the past five months, but I have improved at a number of them: I learned how to ride a bike (I am very late to the game on this, I know), started exercising consistently for the first time, and even tried surfing once.
I have always been a slow learner when it comes to athletic and physical pursuits but challenging myself to improve my abilities in this department has been very beneficial. Although it may be a slow process, it has shown me just how attainable improvement is when I just work through my embarrassment at not being good at something.
Quarantine has shown me the importance of pushing myself to pursue the things that may make me a little uncomfortable because they are not within my natural skill set.
Everyone’s quarantine experience has been vastly different, but these lessons have changed my life for the better and been the most positive aspect of my quarantine experience.