R.I., 18, a student in Totowa, NJ

I remember being really excited to come home for spring break the night before my dad was supposed to pick me up to go home. I was feeling homesick and really tired from my second semester at UPenn and I was looking forward to spending time with my family and friends. Little did I know that that would be the last night that I would spend in my dorm room or living in Philadelphia until the fall of my sophomore year. I also had no idea that I would have to come back in two weeks to pack up my room and leave for good without finishing my freshman year.

As much as I love being home to see my family, I’ve come to associate home with fun and relaxation. It’s no longer a productive environment for me and I felt that keeping up with my online schooling became a daily struggle. While I’m thankful that I got to do any school at all from home, it didn’t feel the same. I miss being able to see my friends everyday, being immersed in my studies and getting to explore the city with so many awesome people.

On the bright side, I have a lot more downtime. I get to eat my meals at a more consistent time at home. I also talk to my friends and send them memes almost every day so that’s fun. I even get to exercise at home, which is something I never felt that I had time to do while I was away. I think it made me prioritize my health and well-being more, so I’m gonna try to keep it up when I get back.

Another thing I didn’t realize was how the pandemic would affect Ramadan and Eid. I know for a fact that it would have been much harder to do if I were still in school because I didn’t have my own kitchen. It would also have bothered my neighbors a lot if they heard a microwave going at 3 AM! Unfortunately, my family and I won’t be able to see many of our family and friends for Eid this year. However, I think we’re still gonna try to video chat with them and enjoy some traditional treats!

I finished up my last assignments for school yesterday and I’m just glad to be done. Now, I’m going to start working on my summer research program (remotely), which is a really exciting prospect for me right now! I don’t know what the future will be like but I’m really hopeful that things will get back to normal within the coming months.

[submitted on 5/13/2020]

Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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