Recently, my dad told me on the phone that after 70 days of home quarantine, he was finally able to go out following China’s ease on their lockdown. I almost screamed when hearing this good news. COVID-19 had forced him to stay at home since the start of the outbreak in late January—he had to work remotely, exercise at home, and pay for grocery delivery. He never expected that my life in the U.S. would soon be the same.
As one of the international students who wasn’t able to safely travel back home, I am spending my quarantine on campus. I asked my dad for advice about how to take on self-isolation, and to my surprise, he said, “Just keep living a normal life and doing what you usually do.”
But that’s more difficult to do than it sounds, and to be honest, I don’t quite understand what he means. Besides getting to-go meals from the Dining Center, I often feel stuck in my dorm and find myself losing more motivation than usual. I can’t keep track of how many bingo challenges I’ve done or how many snacks I’ve eaten in a day. Some days, I just switch between Netflix, FaceTime, and homework.
“Time is kind of not a real thing for me right now,” sophomore Maximo Lawlor, another Emerson student who remains on campus, previously told The Beacon. “I’m going to bed at like 4 a.m. some nights, and then I’ll wake up at 1 p.m.”
I tried to keep up my normalcy of schoolwork and social life, but I also knew that this new life isn’t normal. Attending “Zoom University,” being away from friends, and losing upcoming job or internship opportunities prevents myself and others from finding motivation during this difficult time.
The quarantine can easily break our regular schedule. However, it’s important to cope with our new normal lives by combining our old and new daily routines among the chaos.
By getting up at a consistent time, eating breakfast, and completing a daily to-do list, we can start to feel a sense of normalcy. Lynn Bufka, a clinical psychologist and senior director at the American Psychological Association, shared her quarantine routine advice during an interview with CNBC. One of her ideas is to create a routine where “keeping those things going is as important now, if not more important now, than it is in our previously ‘normal’ lives.” While staying inside, it’s also a good opportunity to focus on something other than COVID-19, such as getting in a full workout, taking up a new hobby, and helping others.
Luckily, I found everything started to fall into place as soon as classes resumed online. As I slowly adjusted back to my regular school and sleep routines, I realized what my dad meant: it’s about separating from the chaos and concentrating on ourselves and the work we do.
In nature, bears have to eat fully before hibernating in the winter. Now, we are these “bears” that need to stay motivated and “feed” ourselves with skills learned remotely. This way, we can make the most of the experience during these quarantined days and come out stronger.
The world is changing. Less than a month ago, nobody expected a global lockdown, but we should never stop making progress, even when the pandemic inhibits our daily life.