A Day in the Life: Quarantine Edition
April 14, 2020
Ruth Bieber-Stanley ’21
Hi Blogs, it’s been awhile. Or has it? I don’t know anymore. Time is an illusion.
Anyhow! I’m back home in Albuquerque, NM, for this period of self-isolation and I figured I’d take some inspiration from posts like Emma’s blog (vlog?) here and write a little “Day in the life” style blog post, quarantine edition!
Now, my situation at home is likely a little different from most, although I’m sure no one’s situation right now can possibly be classified as “normal.” For the first six weeks after winter term, I was in Berlin on a study abroad program, which was of course canceled due to COVID-19.
By this point, I would have been taking classes at a German university in Berlin, but their semester schedule is different from the US semester schedule, meaning I would’ve been at the university from April to July. But during the six weeks I was in Berlin, I was taking three classes taught by professors associated with Duke University. One of these classes is over, one of them is effectively over (I just have to write a long research paper), and the third is going to resume in about a week. I had the option to enroll in a course online through the German university, but I actually decided against it.
For one thing, the registration process was unbelievably confusing, which was definitely a deterrent, but the main thing is that I have more than enough credits to graduate on time and to finish my German major, and I’ll be transferring the maximum number of courses back to Oberlin from a semester abroad even without taking any extra classes. Plus, I also signed up for two second-module courses at Oberlin, one in German and one in psych.
In a way, I felt bad not signing up for more classes at the German university, partly because being a student at an actual German university was something I was really looking forward to. But in the end, taking remote classes and having to deal with an eight-hour time difference wasn’t really what I wanted. So, TLDR: I’m basically a part-time student right now taking remote classes only. As a chronic over-committer it’s been challenging to let myself do less rather than more, but if anything, this is the time to do less, and I’m trying to be ok with that.
So, without further ado, here’s what a day in the life looks like for me right now!
Monday, April 13
7:30 am — My alarm goes off. I force myself to get out of bed and put on some clothes and open my room-darkening shades. Depending on the day, I try to wear actual clothes. Today I actually managed to wear an actual outfit (gasp). I go to the kitchen and make some breakfast and have some tea while scrolling through messages from the night before and Instagram.
8:45-9:30 am — I finish breakfast and start “working.” It’s helpful for me to have an actual workspace, so I go to my desk and work on answering some emails with some nice calm music as my background. I start working on this blog post, but I’m interrupted by my sister, who has a break from her online high school classes. She comes in my room and we play with our dog, who we just taught to do a fist bump with his nose. It’s outrageously cute. I keep working on this blog post.
9:30-11 am — I work on a birthday gift for a friend who has to celebrate their upcoming twenty-first birthday in self-isolation. Then, I work on my internal Fulbright application. I’m applying for an English Teaching Assistantship in Germany for after I graduate from Oberlin! I’m excited about this possibility and grateful I have the extra time right now to put in some work upfront so I can focus my time next semester on coursework and enjoying my senior year!
11 am -12 pm — I take a little break from working. I send a few more emails, answer some texts, check Facebook (and wonder why I've checked Facebook), read a bit, talk to my sister and help her make lunch, etc. It's one of those hours where I'm not really sure where the time has gone, but that's all right.
12-1 pm — I eat some lunch! I like to give myself a long, leisurely lunch, at least 30 minutes to an hour because I’m often used to eating my meals in a hurry and this allows me to slow down a bit. While I eat, I try to set my phone aside and I read instead. Right now, I’m working my way through a book series I really liked as a kid, The Sisters Grimm. The series follows the (mis)adventures of a pair of sisters who learn that fairy tales are in fact history, and all the characters from the stories are real. They’re sort of detective stories. The girls solve mysteries, wake up their parents trapped in a sleeping spell, get stuck in a magical book, and even fight in a magical battle between good and evil fairy tale forces. It’s a wild ride and I’ve been fully enjoying it, because they’re easy to read but also entertaining with a healthy dose of childhood nostalgia.
1:30-2:30 pm — I make some chocolate granola! I was a granola maker in my old co-op Tank for a semester and picked up mad granola skills. I can make it in about 35 minutes including the bake time. It’s actually SNOWING outside today (yes, in April, in New Mexico) and there’s nothing like the warm, chocolatey smell of baking granola to make everything feel a little bit better. I end up burning a bit of the granola, but the rest turns out really well.
2:30-3:30 pm — I have a Zoom workshop for some engagement work I’m doing with admitted students. There’s a course about COVID-19 being offered to admitted students. Each week there’s a lecture by a different professor (last week was biology, this week’s is statistics), and then for the second half of the course, smaller groups of students meet with current Oberlin students to discuss the lecture and life at Oberlin. The purpose of the course is to show students what a liberal arts style course looks like, and also to let them interact with a current Oberlin student to help them decide if Oberlin is for them. I’ve only had one meeting with my group of students, but I had a great time and I’m looking forward to working with them more.
3:30-5:30 pm — I take a little break and eat a snack while watching some TV with my sister, who is also done with class for the day. I also work out for an hour since I’ve been sitting for a lot of the day and need to get some pent-up energy out.
5:30-6:30 pm — My sister and I take our dog for a nice, long walk. It has since stopped snowing, so we are able to enjoy being outside a little bit more. When we get home, we hang out and chat while waiting to eat dinner.
7:15-9:30 pm— My dad has prepared a really good dinner for us, so we eat all together as a family. We also watch some of the Good Wife, a lawyer show my parents watched when my sister and I were younger. After we watch 2 episodes (oops), I help clean up the kitchen and wash the dishes. Normally on Monday nights from 7:-8:30 my time, I’m joining virtual Stammtisch with the Oberlin German department! Stammtisch is a German language practice hour held by the German language department at Oberlin. Normally, Stammtisch is at the Feve, one of Oberlin’s most popular restaurants. Obviously, that’s not an option anymore, so we have a virtual Stammtisch every Monday night. I love “going” to our Zoom Stammtisch! It’s a really great opportunity for me to practice my German and to interact (virtually) with other German-speaking students from Oberlin. I was sad to miss it last night, but our family dinner started a bit later than I anticipated. Luckily, there are other opportunities to practice German later in the week, so I’ll probably try to join one of those.
9:30-10:30 pm — I shower, get ready for bed, and read before I turn off the lights! One thing I’m really trying to do in quarantine is have a regular sleep schedule, and I’ve been able to adhere to this really well so far, and I find the structure is really useful.
And there you have it! A day in the life, quarantine style. Of course, every day is a little different, even when sometimes they all feel the same. For example, tomorrow I have a two-hour German poetry seminar in early afternoon and my two-hour COVID-19 course/admitted student discussion session in the later afternoon. But overall, a lot of things remain the same day-to-day and I’m starting to settle into my quarantine life.
I hope everyone reading this is safe and healthy! Hang in there, folks, and please for the love of God do not go outside unless you have to :)
Ok, signing off now! Sending love.
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