A picture of Royce Hall

What It Is Like to Live In An Apartment By UCLA When Campus is Shut Down

I never thought I would be living in my college apartment during a pandemic, or a pandemic in general. I’m in Westwood, but it is not the Westwood we usually call home as UCLA students. So many things have changed, and it’s hard to recall when the town and campus were vibrant and full of life. ucla Original photo by Shayna Freedman

When I returned in April from my parent’s house in New Mexico, I saw how Westwood had become a ghost town. The ghosts were from my memories of hundreds and sometimes thousands of students walking or running around, getting boba in the village or other late-night adventures. When UCLA made the decision to shut down in-person classes, most of my friends went back home for the rest of this school year, with only one of my three roommates remaining at our apartment. When I returned a few weeks later, we were alone together. She had to work at a doctor’s office, so many days I have spent alone in my apartment with no human interaction. It really began to hit me how my college life at UCLA did not exist anymore.

I used to walk to classes, and I admit that I used to groan about it. Now, I miss waking up early and speed-walking to my in-person classes- even my weird speed walks to Royce Hall, where I would sweat on the way there in the winter quarter, only to end up freezing cold once inside the classroom. I also very much miss when I would eventually walk over to the Hillel building to do homework at the Coffee Bean. I would see my friends pop in, and it felt like home. Now, with everything at a pause, I realized how important it was to interact with my fellow students and how much time my student friends and I spent together. Also, all the activities I was looking forward to doing with my friends disappeared within a blink of an eye- or a dry cough. 

ucla Original photo by Shayna Freedman

My traditions of Friday night Shabbat dinners, and even my in-person meeting for the Her Campus organization no longer existed. The new normal became Zoom calls with friends, with my main social interaction coming from talking to masked employees at the cash registers of Trader Joes. What is really strange is, although I have so much time in the day, it seems like I blink and my whole day has vanished. 

Lately, I have been going to campus to read and do six feet apart hangouts. These little things have definitely helped balance my mental state. Nothing beats seeing someone with whom you are close in-person or just getting fresh air and sunshine- this is southern California, after all- while reading. It is a feeling I definitely took for granted until the coronavirus crisis. I love to hide in the courtyard by the law building, but I am also saddened by how empty it is. That courtyard before was filled with law students studying together, laughing and playing ping pong. Now, the courtyard is silent and nobody is there- just me reading or writing under a tree. 

ucla Original photo by Shayna Freedman

I finally understand why ancient people did not want to live in “interesting” times. Our times became interesting so fast I didn’t even get to say goodbye to my old normal college student life. Now, all I see is a ghost town filled with the adults who live here and a few wandering college students, including me. It is a strange time to be in Westwood, but  I think all the students who stayed who are more worried than I am, have less resources to back them, and are having a hard time making the rent. In my significant alone time, I developed a schedule to first ensure my safety and health, and then to read and write. I am trying to be productive during this largely downtime. If I am lucky, I get to see my roommate or increasingly am able to see some friends six feet away for a conversation and to catch up. 

I am looking forward to the end of this pandemic. I expect I will not be saying for a long time how I want to be alone, or how I wish there were not so many people in Westwood or UCLA. I cannot wait to see UCLA and Westwood alive with people once again.