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Life in Quarantine

Hannah reflects on the lessons she has learned with her extra thinking time in COVID isolation.

Hannah reflects on the lessons she has learned with her extra thinking time in COVID isolation.

Yes, the title is exactly what you think it is. Unfortunately, I have been in quarantine for the past week because I recently contracted COVID. Luckily, I have had pretty mild flu symptoms, which I attribute to my vaccination and booster status (thank you Pfizer and science!). While I have spent my time alone for the past six days, I have been doing a lot of reflection on my college experience so far, as well as my personal expectations.

While being in quarantine is not ideal, I ended up finding some silver-linings. Before I dive into that, though, I want to make one thing clear. Some things have sucked, and I am willing to acknowledge that. Many people are feeling pandemic fatigue (and a lot of other fatigues), and it’s hard to stay optimistic when you can’t see the end. Just this week I’ve missed my friend’s birthday celebration, I am doing online classes, I have not been able to do some of my track workouts and have missed meets, and I miss my friends. Just in general, I have been doing a lot of missing, and I know I am not alone in feeling this way. People have lost family members, opportunities, jobs, and experiences.

When I was a freshly graduated high school senior strolling into the summer months, I had a lot of expectations for what I wanted my college experience to look like, as well as what I wanted to accomplish in my time here. Is it a little early to be assessing myself as I am only a term and a half into my freshman year? Probably, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t do it. So what have I learned so far? Let me break it down for you.

College is an adjustment

College is not high school! All of a sudden you’re on your own living in a mini-college-world-thing with a bunch of other young adults? It takes some time getting used to, and everyone will adjust at their own pace. You learn to balance your own schedule (free will is a strange thing) which involves so many elements like classes, studying, work-study, activities, meetings, clubs, sports, friends, and the list goes on.

Not every day is going to be great

College is stressful (unfortunately it is not just playing board games, going to parties. and hanging out with friends). I love learning, and I love my classes, but some moments are not going to be my finest, and that is okay. Not every day is going to be the perfect ideal college day of smiling people that you see on a brochure. While there will be moments like that, there will also be moments where you will need support, and there are plenty of people on campus to help out with that.

Look for the small things

This one hits hard when you are stuck in a room for 8 days. I am allowed to go outside and walk in the Arb for an hour or so where people are not around (as long as I’m masked up of course!). These daily walks have become a life-saver, and it has definitely shifted my perspective on how I look at things. Going outside (even in the chilly weather) is a real mood booster, and it’s nice to slow down for a second and take it all in. The world is beautiful (as cliché as that sounds) and sometimes I need to remember that. Appreciating the little moments that I have, like watching snow fall, laughing with my friends (virtually or in-person), or listening to good music has been so important.

All the ducks I see on my daily walks!

You’re not going to know everything

*Gasp* I know this sounds horrible, but it’s true. You can’t know everything, some things are going to be confusing, and you’re going to need more clarification. It’s okay to go to office hours, ask those questions during class, and reach out to other students. My Latin professor loves talking about metacognition (your awareness of what you know and don’t know) and how you can use that to become a better student. He is a huge advocate for working in groups (not to cause us pain according to him) but so that we use all our knowledge to fill in the gaps for each other. He’s right of course, we learn better together. It’s okay to be confused, we are all here to learn and help each other understand. Never hesitate to ask for help!

Have fun and take a break

It is literally impossible to be done here. You can study forever (which is fun for Carleton students because we love to learn and know more about the world), but sometimes you need to know that it’s okay to step back and do something just for fun. Not everything you do has to be productive and it’s okay to take a break. Hangout with your friends, attend a campus event, go on a walk, have a dance party, watch a movie. The opportunities are endless, and if you’re going to work hard, you should play hard too.

One of my fun COVID activities: Latch-hooking a mini flower rug while I listen to my podcast for class.

You’re going to make mistakes

This one is really hard for me. I don’t like to be wrong (something I am working on). I want things to be right and perfect the first time, which is simply not how life works. Being at Carleton has definitely made that clear. As multiple of my professors have said, “mistakes are a learning opportunity.” Take those chances in life, and don’t worry about messing up. That’s all part of the fun.

Get some sleep

Sometimes you just need to take the “L” and go to sleep. As someone who has pulled an all-nighter or two (I’m a procrastinator this is not every Carleton student), know when you have reached your limit and catch some Z’s. You can’t function in the constant world of sleep deprivation. Make sure you are taking care of yourself so you can do your best.

You can’t control everything

I have spent way too much of my life worrying about things I cannot control. I wanted everything about my first year of college to be perfect, but that’s not reality. While it’s not as easy as “oh just don’t worry about it, problem solved!” I have to remind myself that I am only able to control how I respond to the things that are thrown at me. Pandemic? Adapt. Online classes? Adapt. Getting COVID? Adapt. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but it’s worth a shot. That doesn’t just apply to college students, it applies to everyone. As college decisions start to come out, remember that you will do what you can with what you’ve got.

Take a deep breath, and do your best. You got this! 😊

Hannah is a freshman interested in Political Science and learning as much as she can about whatever she can. Born and raised in Minnesota, she considers herself somewhat of an expert on MN winters. She can’t wait for ice skating on the Bald Spot and Nordic skiing in the Arb, along with exploring all of the other amazing opportunities and activities on campus! When Hannah isn’t in class, she can be found reading, running for the Carleton Track team, watching TikToks, and tutoring with the Northfield Read and Counts Program. Meet the other bloggers!