By Lauren Upchurch and Leah Wilkinson
Did I just eat a whole sleeve of Ritz crackers? What celebrity can I sing happy birthday to when I’m washing my hands today? How fast can I binge this season of Love Is Blind? Do I really enjoy doing this puzzle or is it just because I haven’t been out of the house in a week?
These are just a few questions I have asked myself since Bellarmine sent us home and the quarantine began. I live in Richmond, Kentucky, which is about an hour and 45 minutes from Louisville. I am extremely privileged and grateful to have a safe home to come back to, and I know this situation would be so much harder if I did not.
In life, there are positives and negatives to almost every situation. Do I like waking up at 10:30 a.m. every day of the week? Yes. Does my heart swell when I’m doing schoolwork and I see my dog come into the room? Absolutely.
But in this specific situation, so many people—myself included—are having a difficult time finding the positives. These last few weeks have been full of struggle, loss and grief for millions of people across the globe. People are losing their jobs, their routines and worst of all, their loved ones.
The most vulnerable of our population are suffering greatly, and some people still don’t seem to be grasping the fact that not going out to the bars for a while is a small price to pay for keeping people alive.
I think about my 88-year-old grandpa, who is in mandatory quarantine because of his recent hospital visit. I think about my many dear friends who are immunocompromised. I think about our healthcare professionals and grocery store workers who are all working tremendously hard just to keep our country functioning.
It may seem trivial, but one of the hardest parts of this for me is not seeing my friends every day. We left Bellarmine with almost no warning and almost no time to say goodbye to some of the most important people in our lives, knowing it could be months before we see them again.
My friends and I have talked every day, but I am still finding it hard to deal with the fact that we won’t be living together again until August. I cannot imagine how saddening it is for our seniors who won’t be coming back to campus at all.
Although I believe it is important to let ourselves acknowledge the general horribleness that is happening because of COVID-19, it is also important to realize that there are still a lot of good things happening in the world.
When things are bad, it is the best time for us to be good to one another. Recognize the humanity in others. Offer to buy groceries for your elderly neighbor. Check up on your friends who might be struggling with social isolation. In this time of tragedy, mourning and stress, try to remember what makes us human and what makes us good.
Schools, gyms and libraries are closed. Restaurants are offering take-out only, and toilet paper is nowhere to be found. The coronavirus has hit many areas hard, and Southern Indiana is no exception.
I live in Jeffersonville, Indiana, just across the Ohio River from Louisville. Since coming home from Bellarmine two weeks ago, I’ve noticed myself missing a lot about the campus: friends, professors, the dorm and even the food. This sadness has been much more than I’ve typically felt when on the average winter or summer break from BU.
Of course, one of the reasons this has been such a rough transition is that none of this was planned. Not even three days back from spring break, and bam! We needed to leave again. And although this has been an extremely big adjustment for all involved, it’s important to keep in mind that many college students are facing the same scenario.
And of course, there’s not a human on this earth who’s gone unaffected by this virus in some way. As so many have been saying, we truly are all in this together. I’m fortunate to still live at home with my parents when not on campus, so I don’t have rent or other bills to pay, but for so many who do, I couldn’t imagine that added pressure.
People are filing for unemployment left and right, people are having to stock up on only so much because they can’t afford a week’s worth of food, and people who rely on programs at churches or libraries are having to adjust.
It’s interesting that we cannot physically get anywhere near each other during a time in which we seemingly need each other’s friendships most. I’ve been on several video calls with my friends since our departure from each other.
At first we tried to keep a streak of video chatting every day, but we lost that after what I believe was the fourth day. Because so many of our classes are asynchronous, we’ve all sort of restarted the lives we typically have outside of the school year — except there’s one catch — we only leave the house to go to the grocery.
Starting March 25, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb required all Hoosiers to follow shelter in place orders. These orders exclude those going to grocery and liquor stores, but include all non-essential outings.
My parents, cat and I have been going for long drives. I’ve always enjoyed car rides, but they’re even more enjoyable for me now, as they’re essentially our only way to truly get out of the house.
A good high school friend of mine, Zach Bouvier, is a senior at Indiana University Southeast in nearby New Albany. Like many college students, Bouvier is taking online classes and was asked to leave his dorm.
“Unfortunately I was removed from campus — which was my only home that I had — with little to no compensation,” Bouvier said. “I had to get an apartment and move [to] downtown [Louisville] in the middle of a pandemic, which is by far the most annoying thing that came out of this so far.”
Bouvier said he feels the shift from living on campus to the apartment is more of a risk than remaining on campus.
“It put me and namely the person [who] helped me move, my mother, at far more risk than just staying on campus,” he said.
Although frustrated about the move, Bouvier said he feels fortunate to be able to work online.
“Thankfully, my work also allows me to work remotely, and I know plenty of people who have lost their jobs due to the illness and we should definitely not let them be ignored or dismissed,” he said. “Productivity was low at first, but has caught up to and [possibly] exceeded the pace I set before [COVID-19].”
On the other hand, a family friend who works in the meat department at Kroger said he’s been swamped all week. Although the meat counter has been closed, he’s been busy bagging groceries at checkout.
I’ve never seen the Jeffersonville Kroger as crowded as it was one day last week at 7:30 a.m., nor have I ever seen so many cashiers ringing up items. Normally there are just two or three check-out lanes open, but now it’s like every single lane has a cashier ready to work (and every lane also has a long line of people waiting).
Aside from being away from all things Bellarmine, adjusting to online schooling really hasn’t been as bad as I initially thought it would be. I find myself biking and cooking quite a bit, as I have a lot more free time with class time now being all work time. I was homeschooled up until 8th grade, so this kind of just feels like the olden days to me.
Being homeschooled really allowed me to grow and become more independent. I find it fascinating when I watch the varying news stories of parents concerned about how they’re going to facilitate their child’s learning over the next however many weeks.
This is such a rough time for the world, and I wish everyone could have this time to just breathe, take a car ride and be close with their parents or children or pets — just not too close!