Virus Outbreak Photo Gallery

A worker cleans his goggles to spray disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus at a shopping street in Seoul, South Korea, Feb. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Everyone’s dealing with quarantine in different ways. For freshmen who had their first year of college disrupted by the pandemic, adjusting to new schedules amid all the chaos and worry has been somewhat challenging. In their own words, here’s six stories written by freshmen about their coronavirus experiences, from fishing to unemployment worries to TikTok videos.

Ella Wales, 18, political communication major from Columbia, South Carolina

When I came home during breaks, seeing my high school friends was the highlight of my trip. But having to leave college for a global pandemic is a different story.

When I found out I had to go home because of the coronavirus, I was devastated. The one upside was that I would get to see friends I hadn’t seen in months.

But when I got home, that was not the case. As the virus got worse, so did the guidelines for social distancing. It’s hard to know that friends you haven’t seen in months are just down the road and you can’t see them.

One of my best friends, Gray, lives in my neighborhood, so I made a plan. I walked to her house and talked to her while I sat in her driveway and she sat in her hammock about 15 feet away.

Talking with a friend gave me some much-needed human interaction after being stuck at my house for a couple of weeks, even if we had to be 15 feet apart. That conversation has been the highlight of my otherwise very boring quarantine so far.

Serenity Martin, 19, political communication major from Marietta, Georgia

COVID-19 has negatively impacted my family and me in many ways. I agreed to participate in a study abroad program held in Washington, D.C. over the summer, and I was also getting a great start with a new job working for Tiger TV. Since school was released early, both amazing opportunities have been taken away from me.

When it comes to my parents, the story is different. My parents divorced my sophomore year of high school, and both are living on their own.

My mother will soon be struggling to make ends meet. She has been employed for the past 15 years. Her office laid off seven workers because of the virus. They are also working three days a week. My mother will be getting paid up until April 17. Then she will no longer be working or receiving a paycheck.

The government is doing all it can. However, stimulus checks are not cutting it for some households. Workers are being unemployed and although unemployment checks are available, it is still not enough.

This virus has caused turmoil within our country and neighboring countries. Citizens are doing their best to stay positive even when there is no end in sight.

Steele Jones, 19, mass communication major from Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The outbreak of COVID-19 ended my freshman year abruptly. However, that does not mean that all the consequences are negative. Living at home again has reminded me how valuable my family is.

Being back home has given me the chance to spend quality time with my parents, specifically my dad. My dad works hard to provide us with a good life. He works in New Orleans and, in normal times, has left for work by the time I wake up.

Because of the virus outbreak, his job is temporarily closed, and he has been at home for the last few weeks. I’ve used this time to spend some quality time with him. We have been grilling together in the backyard a couple times a week. This is very enjoyable because it gives us both a chance to just sit down and have a few laughs.

My older sister tells me to enjoy the time I have with my parents because once you grow up and become a part of the real world, those memories are a treasure. Although I wish it were under different circumstances, I am glad I get to have this time with my parents.

Brianna Andras, 19, mass communication major freshman from Thibodaux, Louisiana 

I work at a Baton Rouge news station. The news never ends. It never stops, even during a worldwide pandemic that is affecting thousands of people around the world and seems to be spreading faster than anyone can comprehend.

Over 6.6 million people in America alone are jobless. They are relying solely on the government to provide aid in such unprecedented times.

However, I am not one of those 6.6 million. I work about 25 hours per week surrounded by anywhere from seven to 12 people. Those people still have to report the news. They have to go out into the world to be around others, interview government officials and risk exposing themselves and then the rest of the station to the virus. Experts say that the virus can be spread by simply breathing.

Every day, the people at my station and I put ourselves at risk for this deadly illness by just being there.

Every newscast is surrounded with information about COVID-19. Our anchors update viewers on Louisiana’s case and death numbers every half hour as well as where the U.S. stands in aiding those in need.

While reporters try to build stories based on what children are doing during quarantine, on COVID-19 survivors and good Samaritans helping the community, it does not take away the fear. Every day, my coworkers and I put our health at risk, but this is our Super Bowl. Even in such chaos and tragedy, this is when news reporters, anchors and producers put out their best work. There is always something new to talk about.

There is so much unknown, and it is our job in this industry to provide our viewers with the latest information to relieve some of that unknown.

Joseph Bullard, 19, mass communication major from Raleigh, North Carolina

My 14-year-old sister Alex is obsessed with TikTok. For the past year, 60-second dance videos and the prospect of going viral have captivated her.

While at home, I am under the constant barrage of her asking if I will make a TikTok with her. For the past year, I have refused. But under these new circumstances, I finally caved to my sister’s pleas. While playing street hockey, I called my sister outside and asked if she wanted to make a TikTok.

“Oh my God I thought you’d never ask!” she shrieked before running back inside to get her phone.

I told her the video would be of me hitting a slap shot to Bruno Mars’ song “Uptown Funk,” following a trend on the app where people stop what they’re doing when the singer says “Stop, wait a minute,” and resume when the music continues.

My sister, giddy with excitement, lined up behind and to the left of the goal to get the net and me in the shot. I have been known to have a lot of power in my shot, but I am not as well known for having accuracy.

On the first take, I missed the goal and nailed Alex in the thigh. What started as a dream come true one year in the making ended as a fist-sized, purple and red bruise that will last weeks. But the memory and laughter will last a lifetime.

Haylee Kennedy, 19, mass communication freshman from Savannah, Georgia

Growing up as an only child, you learn how to entertain yourself, which is helpful when the world is going through a pandemic.

However, I reached rock bottom in boredom only eight days into quarantine. As I laid in bed exhausted from a full night of watching every movie related to a pandemic, I started reflecting on old hobbies. Fishing for those deep thoughts, I felt the line tug.

In the morning, I jumped out of bed around noon and ran to the garage to find my fishing pole. It was a beautiful Louisiana day. Why should I waste it by lying in bed?

“I'm teaching you how to fish today, city girl,” I texted my cousin Bella, who is from California. “No questions. I have to show you how a true southerner handles quarantine.”

Tackle box in one hand and fishing pole in the other, I headed over to Bella's house. Conveniently, she lives on the Mennonites’ land, which has many ponds.

After an hour, Bella said, “Why would anyone want to do this? This is boring.”

I laughed, casting my line into the pond when suddenly my lure began to swim away.

Vigorously fighting to reel in the monster I just caught, a fish the size of my hand emerged from the water. We cheered in victory as I unhooked the catch of the day.

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