Tag: Quarantine

“Not Letting the Days Go By” by Chris Hope

It’s the spring semester, and whether you’re on campus or not, the onset of classes brings a sort of schedule to the week and some variety as compared to winter or even the last semester. I know that I’ve felt some more variety for the first time in almost a year, since this is my first time being extensively back on campus since last March, when I had to move out of Redding! Still, with many classes relegated to your room and the overall year of quarantine that we have gone through and continue to go through, it can feel like we’ve been repeating the same week over and over or are beginning to go into that cycle. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to add some variety to life that can also help you keep tabs on the days.

I was inspired to write this article for two reasons, the first of which being an event that was held in my Residence Hall, Independence, on the first day of classes. We were able to go down to the lounge that night and, while maintaining social distancing, grab a small pot, fill it with dirt, and plant some seeds in it. This is my first time taking care of a plant (if you don’t count science classes in middle and high school), and watching Pharbara’s progressive growth has been great! And yes, my plant’s name is an extended reference to Phoebe Bridgers. The first week there was little growth, but since then four sprouts have popped up and continue to rise. Watching as it grows and making sure I’m watering it as its soil becomes dry has been a nice little daily activity that keeps things fresh and a little bit exciting. Continue reading

“Accountability Partners in a Challenging Time” by Clara Kinken

When the initial shock of a pandemic uprooting my time on campus wore off, my next instinct was to look for hidden opportunities to come out of quarantine. I fully expected that within two months I could be cooking gourmet meals, working out everyday, and achieving other lofty goals. And while I certainly attempted to incorporate self-improvement into my social distancing experience, my dinners of microwavable grain bowls and Annie’s box Mac and Cheese offer a glimpse into my eluding success. 

Another significant challenge I’ve experienced over the past several months has been keeping in touch with people outside my immediate family. Maintaining the strength of my relationships over distance and time has always been difficult for me and was one of my primary concerns when I realized the extent of our isolation. 

Over the summer, a solution to both my disappointing track record and my need for more regular human interaction presented itself to me through a text from a high school friend. A fellow French student, who also happens to enjoy testing the limits of their brain’s linguistic capabilities by studying multiple languages at once, had been using Duolingo regularly throughout the semester. He could plainly see that I had not. By abruptly pointing out that I was lagging behind for someone supposedly dedicated to language learning, he inspired me to begin a daily practice with some friendly competition. The exchange motivated me to resume language study outside of the classroom, not just through the app, but through other means as well.  Continue reading

“Quarantine Cooking: Healthy Meals to Keep You Focused on Work” by John Salsini-Tobias

The change from eating dining hall food to actually having to cook at home certainly isn’t the worst aspect of online learning, but cooking nevertheless can take up valuable work time. Without endless options while at home, many students (including myself) will find themselves snacking throughout the day. It’s easy to grab a bag of chips or a granola bar but this option is rarely healthier than nutritious balanced meals. Let’s examine a possible day of eating in easy-to-prepare meals that any student could throw together while listening to a recorded lecture or practicing a Quizlet. 

The first meal of the day obviously is breakfast, and nowadays it’s an easy one to skip if you can wake up and start class just by grabbing your laptop. Staying in a routine will be healthy and this means actually getting out of bed (looking awake and out of bed reflects well in class too). One delectable and popular breakfast dish is avocado toast. Popularized by millennials, this can be spiced up in many different ways to add some flavor and balance to your diet. Personally, I prepare mine with some sea salt and a hard boiled egg on top of mashed avocado on whole-grain toast. Here are the steps to make a new morning preference:

  1. Peel and pit avocados
  2. Put about ½ of an avocado on each slice of bread
  3. Dice the avocado and mash into bread with fork
  4. Add any toppings such as sliced egg, salt, pepper, cheese, tomato, or anything you like!
  5. Toast the bread and allow to cool before eating.

Around midday you’ll probably get hungry again, so now it’s time for lunch. A college favorite that I often find myself making is a classic: ramen. It’s fine to eat a plain bowl with the included seasoning, but you may find yourself wanting a more filling experience in the absence of restaurants like Ramen Kumamoto. I often add a soft boiled egg to my ramen. For this, I recommend preparing the noodles normally and then in a separate pot boiling the egg. Of course, adding other toppings such as scallions, pork, tofu, bean sprouts, or cabbage to the noodle broth can be done to add flavor. Again, this is an easy way to make a tasty meal out of a simple food.

  1. Boil noodles in a pot of water
  2. Add flavor, seasonings, or toppings that need to be cooked to pot
    1. For a soft boiled egg, prepare 1 inch of water in separate pot
    2. Once water is boiling, add egg directly from fridge and leave for 4 ½ min
    3. Remove egg and immediately cool with cold water, then peel and enjoy!
  3. Add noodles to a bowl and add any fresh toppings desired

A powerful way to finish work hours and prepare you for an evening of relaxing (or more work!) is this pasta dish. Once again simple to prepare, this lemon pasta tastes amazing and gives you some carbs to keep up your energy. Just add a salad and a desert!

  1. Bring a quart of water to a boil
  2. Prepare pan of spaghetti, tomatoes, lemon zest, olive oil and 2 teaspoons salt
  3. Add boiling water to pan, cover, and heat until it reboils
  4. Remove the lid to simmer for 6 minutes while stirring
    1. You can add kale or spinach for more flavor and to soak up the juices
  5. Serve with seasonings and some parmesan!

Five Movies to Watch While Stuck in Quarantine

Right now it feels strange to think we were at UD over a month ago, and that our lives were seemingly normal, and now that we’re living in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. I’m not sure I ever thought that anything that has impacted the world as majorly as this would have happened in my lifetime. At this moment, it feels hard for all of us to stay upbeat and positive, as everything feels like it’s ending, and we have so much free time stuck at home with nothing to do. One thing that I have been doing while not in class, is watching movies. I find they help give me not only a distraction but help me stay positive. If you’re feeling like you’re struggling and want something else to think about, or feel like you need something to believe in the world again, here are the top five movies I would recommend to you.

  1. Howl’s Moving Castle

I’m probably biased towards this movie as it is one of my all-time favorite movies, and something I have loved since my childhood, however I believe movies like Howl’s Moving Castle are a nice breath away from reality, especially right now. Howl’s Moving Castle tells the story of a young girl named Sophie who has a spell cast on her by the “Witch of the Waste” which turns her into an elderly woman. She goes on a journey to try and break the spell, and meets a wizard named Howl and goes aboard his moving castle for a life-changing adventure. This movie is perfect if you just want to be taken away to a fantasy world and feel like a kid again. The art in this movie is amazing and the soundtrack fits in perfectly. It’s hard to put all the things I love about this movie into words, but I would highly recommend this movie to anyone of any age.

2. Perks of Being a Wallflower

I’ve watched this movie so many times since it came out, and could watch it thousand times more. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is about a boy named Charlie who is socially awkward, and is considered at school to be a “wallflower,” someone who tends to stay away from crowds and the spotlight. However, he meets a girl named Sam and her stepbrother Patrick and they change his life completely. This coming of age movie is so powerful and touches on so many issues in the world today. It makes you feel so many emotions from pain and sadness to joy. Even though high school wasn’t so long ago for me, it gives me that youthful nostalgia for those days in my life. It is perfect for those days in quarantine when you’re missing your friends or thinking about all the memories you have made here at UD.

3. Love, Rosie

If you’re looking for another semi-predictable, cheesy rom-com that will make you want to cry, laugh, and want to rip your hair out in the best way possible, then this is it. Rosie and Alex are that couple that always finds their way back to each other but the timing is always wrong. The movie takes you through a journey of their ups and downs and has you constantly on the edge of your seat wondering if they will end up together, or if time and misunderstandings will be too big of a hurdle. This movie is one that will easily distract you from the outside world and make you feel warm inside. It’ll make you believe that what is meant to be will be, which is something that in the world today doesn’t feel like it exists. Our lives may be crazy at the moment and it might be hard to stay hopeful for a better tomorrow when it feels like everything is crumbling down. But this movie, even as lighthearted as it is, reminds us that the best things can come from the seemingly worst things to happen to us.

4. In This Corner of the World

While this movie is an animated film, watching this for the first time made me cry, and I’m not one to usually get emotional over movies. This story is set during World War II and is about a girl named Suzu who moves in with her husband’s family in Hiroshima, Japan. The movie tells of all of the challenges she faces during this time living in a war-torn country. The thing I love the most about this movie is the overall message. This movie portrays that even in the worst times, there will always be hope in the world, and you can always find beauty in something. While normally I’m not the one for wartime movies, this movie made me realize how lucky I truly am for even the smallest things in life that I take for granted. I feel that watching this movie now is perfect timing, especially with everything going on in the world today, and how chaotic life feels. It’s a nice reminder of all the good and positivity there can be, even if it seems like there is no hope.

5. Ferris Bueller’s day off

This movie is honestly such a classic, and a movie that my parents love as well. If you’re looking for something that will have you laughing until you cry — this is it. Ferris Bueller is known as a troublemaker at his high school as he is always slacking off. He decides to take one last day off of school and go on the journey of a lifetime. This movie will keep you wondering how Ferris doesn’t get caught, and laughing at all the close calls he and his friends have. If you’re looking for something lighthearted and exciting, this is the movie for you. It reminds you to live each day to the fullest even with the ups and downs in everyday life. 

“Refreshing Your Work Space for School at Home” by Abhigna Rao

Over the past few weeks, the word “homeschool” has taken on an entirely new meaning for all of us. And one of the most common complaints that I have heard from friends, colleagues, residents, and everyone in between is dealing with the lack of motivation to do work and decreasing productivity with each passing day. 

For many of us, being on campus and surrounded by fellow driven students played an enormous factor in our own levels of productivity and efficiency at completing assignments. Now, without classes or RSO meetings to walk across the Green for, meeting up with friends for dinner at CR, or reviewing action potentials with study groups in lounges, it is safe to say that our learning experience has become much more sedentary than some us would like. 

Well, fear not! I may have a few ideas for livening up your work area so that you can feel more inspired and focused on a daily basis. No matter what your study strategy or work ethic is, the one factor that has a huge influence on our working style is your environment. At school, that space might be in a Redding lounge, or the Perkins Scrounge, the library, or even out on Harrington Beach. What is it now? A desk? The dining table? In bed underneath a fuzzy blanket?

Whether your room or study space is in need of a massive makeover or just bit of sprucing up here and there, below you will find a variety of ways in which you can achieve your ideal work environment. I hope that some of these help you with cleaning up your work area and in turn, helping you with achieving a space where you find it easy to focus on school work and be productive every day!

Big Change: Play with Paint

As previously mentioned, the atmosphere you work in plays a huge role in influencing your mood, as well as how often you might get distracted. This includes the colors and objects that you are surrounded by for long periods of time in a day. That’s why applying a fresh coat of paint to the walls in the room you work in might be a great step towards a healthy study environment. Colors that tend to work best for focus are cool, muted, and earthy tones. These include, white, off-white, creams, beige, taupe, greens, blues, and grays. You can even coordinate bedding and curtains to create a more cohesive theme — be creative with it and express your style! 

Little Tweak: Wall Embellishments 

If you already love your walls or want to keep them the way they are, that’s great! In that case, here are a few little things you can add to your walls that might help with getting motivated or achieving a positive headspace when it’s time to get down to business:

  • Whiteboards: great for to-do lists and writing out crazy schedules.
  • Bulletin Boards: pin up reminders, photos, everything in between.
  • Calendars: having your calendar on a wall clears up desk space.
  • Photos & Polaroids: collages are always a mood booster!
  • Recognition: medals and certificates can make great wall centerpieces.
  • Wall Decals: these can be images, patterns, or motivational quotes.
  • Posters: for places you want to go and people you want to meet.
  • Supplies Organizer: a hanging organizer can leave more room on your desk as well.
  • Easy Crafts: paper fans, tissue flowers, dreamcatchers…endless possibilities!
  • Mirrors: these will reflect natural light and make a room feel much bigger than it really is.

Big Change: Repurpose Your Furniture

Sitting upright in a chair for hours of Zoom calls and writing essays on Canvas can certainly get achy, so I am a big fan of alternate seating arrangements! But instead of purchasing new furniture, try to spruce up work space with other options. If you have some time on your hands, here are some DIY ideas:

  • Make a giant floor pillow.
  • Paint a wooden stool to turn it into a bedside table.
  • A crate or box + fiber fill or foam + any fabric = a great reading bench.
  • Rugs make the world a better place. 

Little Tweak: Accessorize, Accessorize!

In my opinion, some of the coolest visuals in any space come from neutral, minimalistic backdrops with whimsical pieces that will catch your eye. This is your chance to personalize with room decor! Here are some thought to get you started:

  • Plants: cacti are my go-to, but succulents and spider plants look awesome too! 
  • Mini Fountain: movement creates a stunning moment, plus the water serves as white noise.
  • Photo Frames: great for a desk corner or on a bookshelf!
  • Paintings: a chance for you to hang up some of your own artwork.
  • Past Awards: bring out that 5th grade soccer trophy for that empty space on your shelf!
  • Random Items: I have an old candle holder that I use as a paperweight.

Big Change: Rearrange Space Within the Larger Room

Tidying up messy areas can really help to make your space feel larger and more open. In my experience, there are certain places within a room that tend to get messier faster. Here’s what to look out for. 

  • Closet: fold and hang…in rainbow order.
  • Dresser: try to categorize by drawer, with what you need most often at the top.
  • Bookcase: alphabetically and by genre, with a few empty spaces for simple décor.
  • Storage Boxes: take your miscellaneous items and stick them in a box under your bed.

Little Tweak: Cut the Clutter

Piles of paper on one end, stacks of textbooks on the other, pens and highlighters scattered across the desk, and a coffee-stained coaster underneath the desktop keyboard — if this was you at any point (it definitely was me), you know that clutter never did good things for anyone. In fact, it adds a lot of unnecessary stress to a study area that should actually be helping you to focus. Keeping your area neat and tidy will keep you organized both physically and mentally. Here are some ways you can do that:

  • File Folders: perhaps color code by class.
  • Labels: categorize drawers so that things are easy to find. 
  • Sticky Notes: reminders and such.
  • Bookends: can be anything from rocks you found outside to fancy decorative mugs.
  • Desk Organizers: for pencils, pens, highlighters, and that one Sharpie marker you have.
  • Paperclips & Binderclips: no stray papers, keep it together!

Feel free to use as few or as many of these ideas as you would like. Above all, your space is yours, so the most important factor is that you feel comfortable in your environment, and that it provides a variety of cozy nooks where you are able to both focus on assignments and study as well as unwind and relax.

Below, I have attached a couple of links that contain even more ideas to brighten up your study area and help you get stuff done! Stay healthy, and happy working everyone!

If Your Office is Separate from Your Bedroom:

https://www.thespruce.com/office-decor-tips-to-maximize-your-productivity-4151800

https://www.staffsquared.com/blog/how-to-make-your-office-space-look-fun-yet-professional/

If Your Office Is Your Bedroom:

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/decorating-ideas/g1727/bedroom-makeover-ideas/?slide=17

https://www.thespruce.com/ways-to-transform-a-boring-bedroom-350734

P.S. I guess now would be a good time to finally begin the room renovation that I have been saying I’ll do for months…

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