In March and April of 2020, a new and frightening plague emerged around the world. Citizens of all nations suddenly experienced disruptions in their daily lives. When COVID-19 struck, people were terrified. They began getting sick;death-rates rose, and everyone was urged to stay home, isolate, and limit time in public. Citizens walked among the populous with extreme caution. Wearing masks and complying with sanitation procedures were now the gold standard instructions on how to avoid getting sick.
Rocky students exited campus in droves to pursue distance learning from their hometowns. Those who could worked from home and everyone was trying to adjust to what was being called the “new normal”. A former Rocky student said, “The best thing about quarantine was when I did not have a job. I could stay up until 4 a.m. and sleep until 4 p.m. The worst part was making no money.” A Rocky football player seems to agree when he states, “The best thing about quarantine is being able to sleep in every day! It’s nice being able to take your time and not rush around. My dog likes it when I’m home all day.” Many tried to comply with the extreme recommendations and do their part. A Rocky cheerleader states, “I was always forgetting my mask even though I was trying to follow what was expected in my community”.
So what did people do when they were learning from home? Really anything to feel semi-normal. Some students did not just rest or just do school work. Some helped on family farms or businesses. I personally helped with spring farm work and calving between classes. Other students who went home overseas faced special challenges with meeting class requirements like time changes and technology glitches.
When students had time to relax, TikTokbecame even more popular during quarantine. Who doesn’t want to treat others to super cool dance moves, sketchy or somewhat dangerous tricks, or even political viewpoints? TikTok functions to help us feel less isolated and more connected to others even when we can’t be together. One Rocky student who had a few TikToks go viral said, “With spare time in quarantine I got to make videos and reach a larger audience, as they got more views I wanted to make even more videos.”
Crafting and baking at home were other ways to keep busy during quarantine. Grocery store shelves not only lacked toilet paper and Clorox wipes but products such as flour and yeast. Making a trip to the grocery store was not always everyone’s favorite activity because of the extra gear required. One disgruntled Rocky football player laments, “The worst thing is when you run out of food but continue to make pointless trips to the fridge. Then have to go to the store and forget your mask.” However, making something yummy or something cute and decorative by hand serves to provide a sense of accomplishment and usefulness for many people. During my quarantine, my sister did acrylic pour paintings while I baked us batches of cookies.
Other students chose to increase physical activity during quarantine by amping up home workouts since gyms were closed for safety. Many people did not want to lose their progress toward their goals during the pandemic, but some gave up on workouts and ate out of boredom. I know a student who ate an entire box of cereal in one sitting during quarantine.
Finally, at this time we could not go out and socialize in the interest of safety so digital entertainment served to fill the void in everyone’s social lives. Binge-watching favorite shows on Netflix or Hulu, such as Tiger King, was very popular at this time.
Quarantine was a challenge for many Rocky students. They had to figure out how to continue learning in a manner different from what they expected their college experience to be. Many students said that maintaining positive mental health was a challenge, but others were able to see a bright side to quarantine. One student summed up the quarantine experience by declaring, “The best thing was learning how much we as humans take for granted. Something as little as going to get gas or just having the ability to drive somewhere made me realize I needed to be grateful for the little things we all take for granted”.