Following Emory’s decision to extend spring break and transition courses to online learning, thousands of students suddenly found themselves confused, uncertain and completely bored out of their minds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has discouraged large gatherings, and almost all U.S. governors have asked citizens to self-quarantine at home for at least 14 days.
Although this situation may not be ideal, just as scientist Sir Isaac Newton turned his self-isolation during a plague epidemic into an outlet of creativity and discovery, so, too, are students at Emory.
For California native Ian Wang (19Ox, 21B), self-isolation has enabled him to finally catch up on both school and leisure reading that he had put off for months. He is currently reading John Battelle’s “The Search,” which is about how Google and its competitors defined not only business but also our culture in the modern era. In an attempt to remain in shape as gyms across the nation close, Wang has also recently picked up biking indoors on a bike trainer.
The grind certainly does not stop just because the world has, though, and Alex Koo (21C) is also making sure to hit the home gym. She has recently taken up Zumba along with her roommates as they isolate themselves at home. Koo surfed through the internet and ran into multiple Zumba exercise videos and has since been dancing for both exercise and moves.
For Julia Song (18Ox, 21B), fitness has also become a way to bond with family. Song, who exercised regularly before the shelter-in-place order in the San Francisco Bay Area, has continued her daily routines. Although she typically ran on the treadmill at Emory, she has recently taken up ping-pong with her family as a way to pass the time.
“So far, my family has engaged in nightly intense ping-pong matches, hoping to play professionally after we emerge from the shelter-in-place,” Song said.
For others, exercise is the last thing on their minds, but gaming certainly helps pass the time. Alyssa Milton (19Ox, 21C) and Helen Jiang (19Ox, 21B) have each separately begun gaming during their free time. For Milton, “The Sims,” a life simulation video game, has consumed her free time. She stated that the customization within “The Sims” as well as the ability to escape to new worlds that she can mold has always appealed to her.
For Jiang, the game “Animal Crossing” has come to occupy much of her free time. She said that “Animal Crossing” offers her a virtual escape from social distancing and self-quarantine as she plays as animated characters. Jiang said she misses the outdoors but exploring virtual reality allows her to reminisce on the freedom she has temporarily lost.
“With ‘Animal Crossing,’ I get to escape from reality to plant flowers, make new friends and get to go outside,” Jiang said.
Religious life has also been greatly impacted by COVID-19 with many church congregations canceling church services in an effort to stem the spread of the virus. Gabi Kim (23C), a Christian who regularly attended Journey Church of Atlanta, stated that many church services have now gone online. Though she wishes that she could attend her local Bible study group back home in New Jersey, residents are legally discouraged from meeting, so she continues to attend Journey Church’s online fellowship group’s Bible studies.
“On Sundays, my parents watch service with my grandparents on a YouTube live stream in Korean with my home church, and then my siblings and I watch a YouTube live stream and have service in my room with [Journey Church of Atlanta],” Kim said.
Perhaps a bit unorthodox, Katherine Ahn (18Ox, 20C) has turned her attention toward learning how to mix cocktails. During her time in isolation, she has learned how to create a lemon mojito, which is a traditional Cuban highball, as well as blue sapphire, a classic gin martini. Ahn said she learned at bars such as Agit Lounge and Karaoke and Susang Pocha in Duluth, Georgia.
“Why bartending and mixing cocktails?” Ahn said. “Well, it allows me to exercise my creativity in this culinary arts field. And it’s just unique and unconventional.”
Creativity is not limited to alcoholic concoctions, however. Yuji Dameron, an exchange student from France, has channelled his creative outlet through writing a screenplay. Although Dameron works throughout the year on his writing, self-isolation has allowed him to focus all his energy toward creative productivity.
His current manuscript details the life of an orphan named Ed, who falls in love and settles down with a wealthy woman named Alma. After Alma tragically dies from a cerebral stroke, Ed is unable to pay back a loan for their house. The plot focuses on Ed’s efforts to buy his house back in memory of the family he wanted to have with his former wife.
“I had worked on screenplays before, but since I’m staying indoors, I have had more time to remain focused,” Dameron said.
When Emory announced its decision to transition to remote learning, thousands of students found themselves separated from the deep-rooted connections they created through their time on campus. Although the sudden disconnection of friendships has greatly hindered the lives of Emory students, many have turned toward different outlets to weather the current pandemic.