How we spend our time during COVID-19

Photograph Courtesy of Kevin Leon

Lillian Vila Licht

Across the world people have been asked to social-distance and self-quarantine during the pandemic of COVID-19. In interviews about how Ursinus students are passing their time in self-quarantine, they griped about lack of motivation while feeling overwhelmed. But there were also observations about how students are relaxing, connecting with their loved ones in different ways, and investing in old and new interests.

In their downtime students have been watching Netflix shows like Sex Education, The Office, Bo Jack Horseman, and Tiger King. And of course, with that comes re-watching favorite shows from The Witcher to Rick and Morty. Some have become enveloped in cooking. “I’ve been relaxing by watching Bon Appetit’s YouTube channel,” sophomore Sarah Thompson said. “There’s just something about watching people make food that is super calming to me.” Another student said, “I also smoke a lot of weed, and I tend to cook or bake before or while I smoke.”

Many students incorporate exercise into their lives through daily workouts or simply taking walks through nature. According to Morgan Laster, “During self-quarantine, my goal has been to reconnect with nature and to also work on exercising more. Every day, weather permitting, I walk around my neighborhood and take time to appreciate how pretty all of the trees and flowers are. I have to power through my allergies, but it is worth it to feel the sun and the breeze, things I have come to really appreciate since I am now at home.” Another student discussed how staying active helps clear her head. She explains, “Because of the pandemic, I have been able to hike much more and to explore new trails in my area. On this hike, I saw four deer, a pileated woodpecker, and a timber rattlesnake, but I got insanely lost. So lost that I ended up wandering onto a game preserve … A hunter found me while he was driving his cart/fourwheeler, and I ended up hitchhiking with this dude with a shotgun as he drove me to a path that could lead me out of the woods.”

Old interests and new skills have kept students busy. Sophomore Julia Eckels said, “I’ve picked up embroidery and sewing because my aunt is a nurse, so I’ve been keeping myself busy sewing her and the rest of my family face masks. I’ve also began making jewelry and other crafty things.” Senior Marisa Spiegel has been “playing with my Perler Beads and building stuff for myself and friends.”

Some relationships have persist through alternative means, and others have been strengthened by quarantine-enforced close quarters. From Zoom, Facetime, Microsoft Teams, Netflix Party, to texting, students have stayed in contact with friends, significant others, and extended family. Sarah Thompson talked about how she’s been spending time with her family. “My mom and I just finished doing a 1,000-piece puzzle together. It was a good way to take our minds off things. My mom and I also try to go on walks together, or take a ride just to get out of the house. My family and I also organized a ‘parade’ a couple of weeks ago as a surprise for my grandmom since we all can’t be together.” Sophomore Andrew Moore explained, “With my family we watch shows together, or cook together, but beyond that we do our own things.”

Our relationships with our family and loved ones has also been a source of inspiration for students during these difficult times. Julia Eckels said, “My family is really what keeps me going. My family is my heart and soul and they are my motivation. I’m very family-oriented and I love being with them. My best friend has also been very encouraging during this time, and he makes everything easier.” Junior Elizabeth Burke echoed this sentiment. “My friends and professors have kept me motivated. Each time I talk with any of them, I feel rejuvenated and hopeful.”

This is all to say that yes, without a doubt these are difficult times, but the company of loved ones, support of those we can’t physically be with, an interest and appreciation for the things that we have in our present moment, and the thought that we will get through this together are giving us the inspiration and strength to keep going.