"COVID has consumed everyday conversation. Most of my final papers for shifted to talk about how the quarantine has affected the lives of students and how it has affected their relationships to technology."

May 14, 2020

The last two months have been hectic and stressful, but I have been learning to adjust to the new normal that is COVID life. I have been working on my final papers for the last two months. And I've been rushing to meet tightly packed deadlines on top of tutoring during my free time. I love to tutor, but it did become time-consuming as my deadlines became shorter.

COVID has consumed everyday conversation. Most of my final papers for shifted to talk about how the quarantine has affected the lives of students and how it has affected their relationships to technology. It felt repetitive and automatic to have to discuss the topic from different angles when it seems like the rest of the world is auto-responding to the same situation.

My biggest win has definitely been finishing up my finals after two months of consistent work on research papers and personal portfolio pieces. I was proud of having finished my second year of college with fantastic grades because I was at a really low point last year in terms of academics. I am really proud that I've been able to achieve grades better than what I had expected and surpass my own academic expectations within one semester.

Not everything has been easy, but I have managed it and pushed through the obstacles. I have been dealing with tight deadlines as well as starting to go out a bit more while respecting social distancing and sanitary guidelines. It's been strange seeing the way that fast-food restaurants and other establishments function to follow guidelines. Advertisements are reminding people that we are living through a crisis while trying to instill positivity. It makes going out feel like we're living in a dystopian novel. Despite these feelings and hardships, I feel that I've been able to keep a positive outlook on things.

My grandmother and aunt have recently been making face masks at home for the family to keep us safe. My mom and I have also been spending time at home, trying to make our own face masks. I have also spent a bit more time with my family in a safe manner.

Now more than ever, we need to help each other and be civil with one another. This feels like a permanent state of living because nothing is guaranteed at the moment. I've learned that everything that has been put on hold is something to look forward to for the future. The optimism for the return of small pleasures is something I will carry with me for the future. My plans for traveling, spending time with my friends and family, and attending concerts are all things I'm looking forward to. I also have learned how to integrate new safety protocols into my daily routine to stay safe and keep others safe.     

"Being separated from the rest of my family for so long makes me want to see them more often once the quarantine lifts."

April 30, 2020

COVID has completely changed my plans to pursue my degree in communications, as well as how I planned to go about applying to prospective job positions.

Being confined to my house means I'm not able to interview for working positions in-person. Now, every application I fill out is sent through email or over the phone. It makes the experience seem impersonal and takes away being able to visit job locations, which is an added benefit of in-person interviews.

I also feel unsure about what my prospective future is going to look like. Will the way we are living now become the new normal? I feel uncertain about what the norm will be in the aftermath of COVID. Having to hear on the news how the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the economy day-in and day-out as quarantine life consumes the media takes a toll on my mindset. I have started to wonder if I will be able to make a living out of my chosen career path and what this will mean for me in terms of independent living. Will I ever be able to afford to live on my own if I get a job in my intended major after college?

For me, working in the communication field in the aftermath of COVID feels daunting because of the uncertainty of what interpersonal and mass communication will look like. This being said, I am hopeful that we have better things to look forward to, and we will be able to bounce back with even more energy than before.

Thinking back on life pre-COVID, I miss visiting my family and friends. I miss gathering with my friends on weekends and taking trips to Chinatown to make our usual trips for boba and good food. I also don't get to see my family as much these days. I've made trips to my grandparents' home to check in on how they're doing. But those trips consist of seeing them through their windows while I stand on their porch, or take my dog on brief walks in the front yard. I miss being able to spend quality time with my pet. Being separated from the rest of my family for so long makes me want to see them more often once the quarantine lifts.

I also miss traveling and going to concerts! Since my mother is an airline employee, we often travel. Once air travel halted, I felt dismayed at the fact that we could no longer follow through with our travel plans. Because of the stay-at-home order, we have had to put our trips to Poland and Madrid on hold. I had high hopes of being able to make a return trip to Tokyo for the summer, but that won't be happening for some time.

Since our first trip to Spain five years ago, my family and I fell in love with Madrid, and since then, we've made it a stable destination spot to visit. Knowing that we can't go this year was a sore spot.

I was looking forward to attending a concert for one of my favorite artists with my friends in a little less than a month. The concert venue was reluctant to release information until the beginning of April, which made me hold hope that we would still have a chance at attending their concert. Even though the idea of canceling my plans for the foreseeable future put a damper on my mood for a while, it puts me at ease, knowing that this is just a low point. Everything that had to be put on hold is something to look forward to once we return to normal. 

What I will miss once we resume normal life will be the comfort of having personal time for myself. It has been very calming to be able to work on my class assignments and work at a pace that feels comfortable for me, in an environment that makes me feel comforted. Once activities resume, I will have to readjust to a strict and fast pace schedule. I've also been able to spend more personal time with my mom since quarantine put a strain on the travel industry. Her hours at work have been less extensive, and she spends more time at home. We fell into a habit of watching Korean dramas together, an activity that we did before this all started but were able to enjoy more after the stay-at-home order was enforced. I have come to enjoy spending time with her doing something we both like.

I have to say being at home has allowed me to make more frequent use of my kitchen space. I have been able to experiment with food and improve my cooking skills!

Habits that I will be sure to maintain even after quarantine lifts will be maintaining a clean lifestyle and healthy eating habits. Ever since COVID began, my apartment has become my primary workspace, and an extended amount of time has proven to me that I enjoy having a clean workspace. This wasn't something that I put too much time into noticing before. I never stopped and noticed my surroundings as much, but realizing it now has allowed me to form better cleaning habits, which puts me in a lighter state of mind. I've also taken to developing better eating habits. I have had more time to pay more attention to the things I consume and the fact that being stuck at home increases probability for weight gain, so I've taken it upon myself to eat healthier and maintain as much of an active lifestyle as possible. Working out at home is great, but it'll be nice to be able to go to the gym and go for runs when the time allows it.

Overall I feel that I have used this time for a positive reflection of my lifestyle choices and to enjoy time for myself that I didn't take advantage of in the past.   

"Throughout all of this, my Bottom Line Advisor has been a great support for me. She checks in on my classes, as well as my mental health, and listens to all my questions and concerns."

April 20, 2020

Making the switch to online learning was a relatively easy process considering I had already been taking online courses for my major before the change. That being said, just because I already had experience with online learning did not mean I was accustomed to it. I still had things to learn that I hadn't experienced with my other online classes, given that each of my instructors had their own expectations. I went in with the mindset of not having any set expectations for my online courses because I didn't know what to expect. 

UIC began their online instruction on March 30, after extending our spring break from one week to two, giving professors time to acclimate to an online learning forum. I enjoyed the extended time off because it gave me the ability to unwind and forget the stress of having to meet strict deadlines for a few days. As a college student, I am rarely allowed time to mentally decompress between the anxiety of college bills and class deadlines looming over me like a gray cloud. The buffer period was a welcomed surprise. 

I did find it challenging to adjust to online lectures in some ways. As I was no longer going to campus to attend classes, I would wake up thirty minutes to an hour before my class started and log into my discussion. This warped my perception of time a considerable amount as I didn't feel obligated to get up and out of bed to complete my assignments. I slowly lost motivation, and at one point, I even questioned why I was paying any tuition if all I was doing was staring at a computer screen and listening to lectures. I did manage to pull myself out of my mental rut and get back on track. 

The longer hours spent at home also began to hurt my ability to work at one point during the early days of quarantine. I became very enamored with the idea that I would finally be able to get much-needed rest after having dealt with multiple ongoing deadlines. What I failed to accommodate was my job. 

I work as a Student English tutor for the UIC writing center. My job is to help students improve their written assignments or give them guidance in other areas outside of classwork, such as overviewing personal statement pieces, job application reviews, or even resume work. I love my job immensely, and I take pride in the work that I do. When classes went digital, so did my job. My department and I found ourselves having to work from home. My previous schedule required me to work early morning hours, which I had pushed aside the idea of when online instruction began. 

After having missed two shifts due to oversleeping and drafting final paper assignments, my supervisor grew worried that my missing shifts would become a habit. I decided to adjust my schedule and work evening hours. This change allowed me the time to attend my lectures and keep track of my work schedule without added pressure. 

I won't sugarcoat anything and say that the stay-at-home order has been entirely beneficial. It has had its downsides.

As a communication major, my profession is based on public outreach and human involvement. Due to the stay-at-home order, I cannot go out to seek internships. It has set me back as I had a goal of acquiring a summer internship at a literary firm, which would have set me on my path to working within the publishing field. Now that has been tabled. I will say that while this idea of not being able to meet with employers in-person caused me some worry, I was able to reach out to my Bottom Line Advisor, Tashea', and talk about these issues with her. She was able to reassure me that even if I wasn't able to meet with prospective employers at the moment in-person, it shouldn't stop me from still reaching out to them and applying for internship positions that I truly wanted.  

I would have to say my Bottom Line Advisor has been significant support for me. She checks in my classes, as well as my mental health, and listens to all my questions and concerns.