Finding friendship in quarantine: UT Tyler student speaks on their COVID-19 experience

Ryan Stanley

Staff Writer

Subjects of this story wish to remain unnamed. For the purpose of readability, I have designated one “A,” and the other “O.” Additionally, for the privacy of a local business and the safety of students, the location where students isolate will remain undisclosed.

Photographed by Ryan Stanley. University Pines, one of the four apartment complexes on campus, houses students – some of whom had COVID-19. However, not all students are allowed to stay in their respective housing. Some, based on circumstances, are required to quarantine at a hotel.

The hotel lobby is quiet, even more so on a Sunday afternoon. Ongoing renovations creates the smell of plywood and fresh paint, but also a sense of comfort.

This peacefulness helped one COVID-19 positive student feel at ease during their quarantine period at the hotel.

Unlike some students who remained on campus while quarantining with COVID-19, A was asked to stay at the hotel so they would not potentially expose their roommate to the virus. During their fourteen-day isolation, A found the time away to be a nice break, but there were some struggles.

“When I first got the results, it was very overwhelming because I’m a student-teacher," A said. "So that makes things a lot more difficult than if I was just a regular university student."

The worst part for A was the boredom associated with isolation, which disrupted their schedule and ability to socialize in person.

“I thankfully had very mild symptoms,” A said. “Most of my day is spent teaching, but that was cut out because I had to be isolated. Also, wondering if I’d get worse with my symptoms, that was hard, too.”

While A couldn’t teach in person, the online elements of classes this year allowed them to stay in contact with students.

“My primary role was to keep the grade book current and interact with the students online,” A said. “So I was constantly just grading things and trying to answer questions.”

However, A was not completely starved of in-person contact. A’s close friend, O, tested positive for COVID-19 at the same time, so they visited the hotel.

“I just gave [them] a little bit of human contact,” O, a second-year graduate student said. “We played board games and watched ‘New Girl’ on Netflix and just had a good time.”

A also found solace in the friendliness of the housing staff who brought them food twice a day.

“Having the different housing staff bring me meals was really nice because not only were they like, ‘Hey, I’m bringing you food,’ they would also try to make conversation,” A said. “Trying to keep that human contact up was really nice.”

Not only did A appreciate the support they received from friends during their isolation, but they also gained a new respect for the MET, and Sodexo.

“I did love the meals being given to me because I’m not a cook, so I really loved having that taken care of,” A said. “It made me appreciate the MET a lot more, so now I try to get my dinners there more often.”

A said it’s important to keep your spirits up when quarantining. Using the alone time can prove beneficial as it did in A’s case.

“If you’re one of the people who are lucky enough to not really have symptoms, maybe it’s just a break that you needed to refocus and reevaluate.” A said.

105 views0 comments