Amid the current world health crisis regarding COVID-19, the World Health Organization has advised the public to maintain social distancing. With campus closures and the transition to online classes, Pacific students are some of many individuals having to adjust to this current mandate.
Going from consistent socialization on campus to isolation back home can be a rough switch for students. Some may be going stir-crazy, or finding ways to cope without social interaction. For others, this time may be about simply surviving these next few months. Regardless, social distancing— while necessary— isn’t the easiest practice.
“We are wired to be social beings,” explained Jessie Larson, a Licensed Professional Counselor with Pacific University’s Student Counseling Center. “That connection with others can be just a basic need for survival. So, not having that or having it via phone doesn’t always replace that need.”
A junior at Pacific, Charlie Kern, elaborated on this idea. “The lack of actual face-to-face human connection [is the hardest part], especially because I kind of need that as an extrovert,” they said. When asked about what’s getting them through this social isolation period, Kerns replied, “Honestly the internet and social media— and [playing] Animal Crossing (a popular video game)— has been what has been keeping me from going completely bonkers.”
Many students were able to relate to Kerns.
Freshmen students Audra and Stella Axline from Loveland, Colorado have also enjoyed utilizing video-chat features. “We facetime people a lot because it’s just like hanging out,” said Stella Axline. Since returning home, Audra and Stella have gotten married at home in a ceremony with their families. Both are excited to return to Oregon once safe so that they can get their first place together.
Jade Cain, a Criminal Justice major at Pacific, has remained on campus throughout the transition to online classes. She shared, “[My favorite social distancing activity is] facetiming friends and then watching movies together, basically utilizing features like Netflix Party.”
Other students shared how social distancing has encouraged them to get artsy.
Annie Doughty, a Pacific sophomore studying in St. Augustine, Florida, talked about some of the projects she has been working on during quarantine. “Embarrassingly enough, I’ve been tie-dying me and my [sic] dog matching outfits,” Doughty said. “I’ll tie-dye myself a shirt, and then tie-dye her a little bandana in the same colors. I’m going kind of crazy, so we’ve got several of those right now.”
Audra and Stella Axline talked about their plan to paint together. “You can put Bob Ross on the TV and then sit six-feet apart from each other and paint,” Stella Axline said.
Rather than crafting, Pacific Junior Christiana Warner shared her newfound love for napping. “I’ve never taken naps, I’m always too busy, and so now I’m taking naps and that’s really fun,” she explained. “It’s weird to have an hour nap and not be rushing to the next thing.”
Larson from the Student Counseling Center offered other ideas to help students get through this quarantine period. She explained the importance of maintaining a routine, finding ways to connect with others through video-chat, exercising, making time for fun activities, limiting news/social media exposure, and focusing on what can be controlled during this time of uncertainty.
Apart from exploring new activities and staying busy, many Pacific students reported how hard it is to be so close to family and friends without being able to actually see them.
Audra Axline said, “I feel like a bad friend because I’m not visiting people while I’m here, but I can’t.”
Doughty was able to relate to this sentiment. “[The hardest part of social distancing is] not being able to see my grandpa … just because obviously we need to keep our distance— especially with the higher-risk groups,” she shared. “[Or not] seeing my friends (in Florida) that I barely get to see anyways, since I live across the country most of the time … Knowing we’re all so close but still haven’t gotten to see each other, that’s tough.”
Kerns opened up about the difficulty of saying goodbye to Pacific friends who had to leave campus. “One of my really, really good friends left … and I wasn’t really able to give him a proper goodbye and it’s likely that I’m never going to see him again … It was sad, because I wanted to give him a hug, but we couldn’t do that.”
While many are still adjusting to social distancing directives and online learning changes, Larson with the Student Counseling Center highlighted that the idea of coping can be a privilege for those that have lost financial stability, moved back into unsupportive homes, or have been impacted by the virus. “That idea, coping, can be a little bit invalidating for some folks,” she explained. “For some people it’s not necessarily about coping, it’s more like surviving and finding a way through it.”