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I Spent My Second Week of College in Quarantine- Here’s What I Learned

I knew that starting college in a global pandemic would be unusual, but I never would have thought that I would be sent to quarantine eight days after I moved in. However, this became reality when a family member of mine tested positive for COVID-19, and I became a close contact exposure. I had just finished unpacking all my items from home (I REALLY overpacked), but I had to quickly gather my stuff together and leave my dorm. My older sister graciously let me stay with her in her apartment in downtown KC, and we isolated ourselves from the world for eight days. While I had already distanced myself for almost two months at the beginning of the pandemic, this time felt different — mostly because I had gotten a taste of what college was going to be like, just to have it quickly taken away. However, I appreciated the time it gave me to reflect on my college experience thus far. With that being said, here are four things that I learned while isolating myself from the world.

Set aside time every day to destress.

While flooded with Zoom calls and emails, I made sure to pencil in time to relax. Whether it be through watching too many movies to count, making handmade earrings, FaceTiming family back home or scrolling through TikTok, these breaks quickly became the highlights of my day. I ensured to only take a break after I completed tasks, so that I remained on top of my schoolwork. I found it increasingly important as the week progressed for me to find little moments of calmness in order to stay positive and to keep my spirits up.

It’s okay to feel down.

About halfway through my quarantine, I began to feel really isolated and alone. I was only one week into college when I had to leave, and it was very unusual to view everyone's lives continuing on campus, while I was confined to a couch miles away. I especially felt distant because the first couple weeks of college are a critical time to make new friends, but I was unable to exchange in in-person connections. However, by the end of isolating, I learned that it’s alright to have bad days, especially during this unprecedented time. In fact, mental health reports, especially among students, are at a high right now due to the pandemic. Many of us are experiencing college in a way that is very different than how we imagined, so it's not unusual to feel helpless. Things are strange. You may not be able to pinpoint why you feel the things you feel, but that’s okay. I encourage you to seek campus counseling or to confide in friends if you need.

Worrying will get you nowhere.

I’m not going to lie, I have always been an extreme worrier, and my time in quarantine was no exception. I was constantly anxious that I had gotten COVID and spread it amongst others before I went into isolation, which was evident by my continuous hand fidgeting, leg twitching and about 20 temperature checks per day. However, I repeatedly monitored myself for symptoms, never showed a sign of the virus and was cleared by Student Services on my fourteenth day after exposure. Also, I was worried about how my classes would go as I moved online, how I would pass the time, whether or not my positive family members would be alright, etc. While I think my anxiety was completely reasonable due to the severity of the virus, everything turned out to be alright in the end.

Now is not the time to ease precautions.

I have been taking the virus seriously from the beginning, but these eight days in quarantine gave me time to reflect. Even though Missouri cases just surpassed the 100,000 mark, things seem to be easing back to normal, which should not be the case. I realized that I need to be even more careful than I have been, especially when it comes to health precautions. Since then, I’ve started taking my food from the dining hall to-go more often, been more vigilant about what surfaces I touch in public and limited the times that I leave the safety of my dorm room. The course of the pandemic is still uncertain, so we must do whatever we can to keep it from spreading.

Looking back on my time in quarantine, I am grateful that I never showed symptoms and that I got to return to campus when I did. While I wish that I could have spent my second week of college making new friends and safely exploring campus, I have come to appreciate the eight days that I spent isolated. From this experience, I learned the importance of my connection with myself and communication with others. It’s critical to plan time for yourself and to check in on the ones you care about. I also realized that even though my college experience has been strange so far, I'm slowly adapting to the new normal, which is bound to last for a while.

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please isolate yourself and call the UMKC Student Helpline at 816-235-2222.

Abigail Weiler (She/Her) is currently a Freshman at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where she is majoring in Political Science and minoring in International Studies and French. In her free time, she loves traveling, watching movies, running, keeping up with politics, and spending time with her dog named Heidi. She can almost always be found watching Parks and Rec, listening to Stevie Nicks or Carole King on repeat, working on her handmade earrings business, or encouraging people to vote.
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