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The Col­legian asked several stu­dents to reflect on their expe­ri­ences at home during the coro­n­avirus out­break. Their responses are recorded below.

Ben­jamin Wilson, Class of 2022

I’m a type seven on the Enneagram Test — the new trendy per­son­ality quiz — and we’re described as fun, spon­ta­neous, and fearful of losing freedom. I am con­sid­ering calling the Enneagram Institute to add a new char­ac­ter­istic to the list, “Doesn’t quar­antine well.”

While it’s been a chal­lenge, the time spent in lockdown has given me an oppor­tunity to ponder the lessons I can learn from this pan­demic.

First, I will strive to be present with people while we’re together. As my roommate David and I shut the door of Room 113 in March, we had no idea our last day as room­mates was behind us.

Along the same lines, I’m dis­cov­ering how to take advantage of the time each day offers. This is an unex­pected time to do well aca­d­e­m­i­cally and pursue projects that I have pre­vi­ously neglected. 

Sophomore Ben­jamin Wilson recorded his grand­mother’s life story while in quar­antine. Ben­jamin Wilson | Col­legian

A project I’ve taken on in addition to my studies is writing my grandmother’s life story. A thought gave me immense guilt a few weeks ago: if she dies, I won’t be able to tell my kids much about her life. I can do better than that. I’ve since recorded about eight hours of audio and a notebook full of notes about her time on Earth. This story is going to make an impact in my family’s life now and in the future. This is only pos­sible because I’m taking advantage of this time I’ve been gifted. 

While I won’t see my college friends for nearly a year, the coro­n­avirus lockdown has given me time to reflect on the fragility of rela­tion­ships and the impor­tance of using time well.

Ryan Goff, Class of 2021

The world has changed, but we can’t know exactly how just yet. Though there is uncer­tainty every­where in markets, gov­ern­ments, and schools, there is also oppor­tunity. It’s an exciting time. 

And at first, it was really fun. With all this time, I fell into the habit of cooking and decided to be ambi­tious about the food I chose to prepare over quar­antine. I started a 30-day free trial of NYTimes Cooking and began to save recipes. I bought one of its cook­books, “The New Essen­tials of French Cooking,” which served as my main textbook for this new class I fit into my schedule.

With extra time at home, Junior Ryan Goff learned how to prepare new recipes. Ryan Goff | Col­legian

After daily Zoom classes, I would sit on my front porch in Florida with iced tea and a book. It’s not just how I’m passing the time, though. It’s also how I’ve tried to gain a wider per­spective when we’ve all been forced to narrow our focus. In some ways, this is the best way to quar­antine. There’s no more appro­priate time to engage with eternal ques­tions or explore far-away cul­tures and places than when one is phys­i­cally con­strained to one space.

Regardless of whether I reach my goals each day, I’ll know I’ve done my best when this is all over. I’ll come out of quar­antine able to prepare coq au vin and with a few great books crossed off my reading list. Maybe it’s not enough. Maybe it is. 

Abby Liebing, Class of 2020

At the beginning of April, my older brother and I went camping. After being trapped inside the house with bad weather and online classes, I was getting stir crazy.

Monon­gahela National Forest in West Vir­ginia was one of the few state and national parks still open. The ele­vation is 4,862 feet and there was still plenty of snow on the ground, but we decided to tough it, back­packing into the spruce forest and camping on Spruce Knob. 

After sticking out the night, it struck me that I hadn’t thought about the coro­n­avirus for hours. We had been too busy gath­ering firewood, setting up camp, and trying to stay warm.

Senior Abby Liebing gained per­spective on dealing with the coro­n­avirus crisis while camping. Abby Liebing | Col­legian

It was a relief to get away from focusing on the virus and it changed how I thought about it. I had spent the last three weeks com­plaining and wal­lowing because the pan­demic had ruined my last semester at Hillsdale and I couldn’t go to coffee shops anymore. Now, we had spent 24 hours bat­tling the wind and cold, things over which we had absolutely no control. And we embraced the chal­lenge and stayed the night. 

I told myself to toughen up. Even though there is plenty wrong with the response to the pan­demic, nearly every­thing is out of my control. But I do have control over my response. 

It was time to start embracing the chal­lenge of living and working in the weird reality that the pan­demic created. With a little toughness and deter­mi­nation, we’ll stick it out.

Alex Nester, Class of 2020

Being home and trying to focus feels like being in high school again. Not in the sense that my parents give me a curfew or tell me to clean my room before I can go to my friends’ house (there’s none of that these days anyway). Rather, it’s because I spend most of my days within the same lime-green walls of my childhood room. Though painted in bright colors, it feels dark. Feelings I thought I had overcome creep out from the cob­webbed corners of my closet. 

But I deal with it, day by day, and for the most part, it’s okay. That’s really what I’ve been up to, most days of quar­antine. Thinking. Dealing with my head. Being okay. 

Besides that, being home isn’t so bad. When the weather is nice, I like to sit on our back porch and do some work and listen to the birds chirping and neigh­borhood dogs barking. I love my parents and my brother, and we’ve had fun playing euchre and watching Netflix. My mom and I espe­cially love watching movies with the dev­il­ishly-handsome Matthew McConaughey. Of course, we watch his movies not for his looks, but for his truly incredible acting skills. It’s nice to have mom’s cooking, too. 

Senior Nolan Ryan at home with his sib­lings. Nolan Ryan | Col­legian

Nolan Ryan, Class of 2020

While stuck at home during the COVID-19 pan­demic, I’ve realized the impor­tance of prac­ticing patience — espe­cially for an impa­tient person like myself.

At college, I had grown accus­tomed to the order of my daily routine: hurry to get ready in the morning, rush up the hill to classes (clutching my mug of coffee), study and hang out with friends, then repeat. I thought my life was bal­anced and ordered. But now that my family and I are stuck at home, the days have become more of a con­fused blur. The days, for many of us, begin to feel like a waiting room, hoping we are getting closer to normal life, or a sem­blance of it, resuming.

Life becoming dis­or­dered, however, has been an unex­pected blessing. It has chal­lenged me to con­front the ways I might have become too com­fortable in what I thought were my per­fectly scheduled rou­tines.

With six people clois­tered inside every day, ten­sions can rise and com­mu­ni­cation can break down. This presents a greater chal­lenge to practice patience. 

Patience requires being content, even in the unex­pected dis­ruption of normal life. This reminds me of a passage from C.S. Lewis’s “Prince Caspian.” At one point when some Nar­nians despair about waiting for help, the badger Truf­fle­hunter speaks up: “Have patience, like us beasts. The help will come. It may be even now at the door.” 

Whether the end of quar­antine is upon us, now is the time to follow the badger’s counsel to be patient. Waiting patiently requires us to focus on the good things which come from bad sit­u­a­tions. Or, as Truf­fle­hunter puts it, “We don’t change. We hold on. I say good will come of it.”

Madeleine Miller, Class of 2020

Back home in northern Idaho, keeping your dis­tance is easy. 

One weekend in late March, I kayaked with my family to a forested island in a remote lake. A couple miles from shore, we were the only people on the 264-acre island. 

Senior Madeleine Miller kayaked with her family while at home in Northern Idaho. Madeleine Miller | Col­legian

I have always loved camping on the island, but on that day, I par­tic­u­larly cher­ished its seclusion. While mil­lions of people fought to gain a few extra feet of sidewalk in cities around the world, I was secluded on a wild island, with miles of deep, frigid water between me and the pos­si­bility of encoun­tering a stranger.  

Last month it was my birthday, and the best one of my life. Even Hillsdale friend­ships can’t compare with the love of those who have known you since childhood. 

What’s more, I got a job: a reporting position in Texas. More people will not recover from this eco­nomic debacle than ever con­tracted the coro­n­avirus, and I had feared for the last few weeks that my employment prospects were null. 

My future won’t be what I expected, but today and always, I have many things to be grateful for — including a new grad­u­ation date. 

Ashley Kaitz, Class of 2022

Across the free world, COVID-19 has exposed the weakness in our so-called democ­racies. When all of this is over, and the initial relief of nor­malcy has worn away, the divi­sions between groups will be deeper than ever. We took for granted the right to assemble, until we couldn’t. British sun­bathers took the right to sit in the park for granted, until the police deemed that a “non-essential” activity. These abuses didn’t come out of nowhere — they are the result of a slow and subtle erosion of our rights over time. 

How will future gen­er­a­tions regard our han­dling of this crisis? Mired in the thick of it as we are, not even our gen­er­ation can say for sure. What I do know is that this crisis has clar­ified what really matters. For me, that’s family. All that matters now, and all that has ever really mat­tered, is within these four walls that I can’t escape. COVID-19 showed me that every­thing that seemed certain — college classes, intern­ships, future plans — can vanish in an instant, and when they’re gone, family remains. The hap­piness of these five people is more important to me than any­thing else. I only regret that it took a world-wide pan­demic for me to realize it.