A day in the life of a college student in the age of coronavirus

A college student outlines daily life under state-ordered Stay-At-Home guidelines

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April for a college student normally looks a lot different. Many students look forward to warmer weather, springtime parties and gearing up for finals, summer traveling and summer jobs or internships. But everyone knows that the past few weeks have been anything but ordinary, and college students across the country have had to quickly learn how to maintain a productive academic schedule in the absence of a regimented campus lifestyle.

After my first week being stuck at home in suburban Pittsburgh, I felt weird, I felt lazy and I felt dull. Sitting in front of me was a workload comparable if not slightly more than my average workload on campus, and yet, I had zero motivation to start working. As a result and in an effort to maintain my GPA, I printed out a daily schedule using the same template from earlier in the semester. This time, though, there are only three classes per week.

One of the weirdest things I’ve discovered from being away from my friends is; despite how interconnected we are, I feel like I hear from them less. This is true of Allegheny and hometown friends. Somehow overconnectedness seems to yield more distance. ”

— Ethan Woodfill

I start my day around 10 a.m. Ideally, keyword: ideally, I would start earlier, but I have found it nearly impossible to wake up any earlier than 9:30 a.m. Then, I eat breakfast and drink coffee for about half an hour while looking at the same three TikTok coronavirus jokes circulating on the internet. There’s something addictive about the helplessness feeling of the situation, isn’t there?

From about 10 a.m. to noon I try to get as much work done as possible. Assignments come in through Sakai or email several days in advance — in some instances in lieu of a class meeting. Today, I read nearly 50 pages from my Constitutional Law textbook about the Supreme Court freedom of speech and expression cases. If the chapter taught me anything, it’s that, with social distancing rules in place, there is no time, place nor context where any mass demonstrations should occur.

I’m also reading to finish a book for my creative nonfiction class by Wednesday. We’re reading “Children of the Land” by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, a recently published memoir about a Mexican-American poet’s upbringing as an undocumented immigrant. Castillo was scheduled to visit campus in April, a visit that has been, undoubtedly, canceled.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have class at 1:30 p.m. on Google Meet. It’s not conducive to our traditional class discussions, but it is refreshing to see my professor and classmates even amongst the awkward interruptions and audio buffering. 

Ethan Woodfill
Robert G Seddig Chair in Political Science Dr. Brian Harward delivers a lecture on Google Zoom from Maine for his Constitutional Law class Tues., March 31.

I don’t have any virtual lectures today, Monday, though, so, it’s time to workout. With no gym open nationwide, I am forced to attempt to endure my “Insanity” DVDs. Somehow Shaun T yelling at me for 45 minutes is the highlight of my day and gives me just enough energy to get through a day blank of life stuck at home. 

After becoming drenched in sweat from “Insanity,” I shower and eat lunch before getting back to work for an hour or two, depending on how much I need to finish. It’s also time for caffeine round two where I discover a hidden perk of quarantine is the savings on coffee.

I describe the rest of the time as fundamentally “idunno.” When the weather is nice, I enjoy walking my dog through the neighborhood with my brothers and seeing so many people that, I swear to God, I have never seen in my entire life. It seems to take a global pandemic to get people to spend time outdoors. 

Ethan Woodfil
Coronavirus won’t stop my dog’s daily walks

I’ve also been able to play a lot of basketball — not that I’m good or anything — but it’s nice to just do something. 

I’ve even tried my hand, in true Eric Pallant fashion, at baking bread. I would highly recommend if you have the yeast and the time, try it. The smell and texture are immaculate.

Ethan Woodfill
My first attempt at making bread.

One of the weirdest things I’ve discovered from being away from my friends is; despite how interconnected we are, I feel like I hear from them less. This is true of Allegheny and hometown friends. Somehow overconnectedness seems to yield more distance. 

Though this “I-won’t-sugarcoat-it” sucks, I have to remember how privileged I am. I’m privileged to be enrolled in an institution that insists on continuing quality instruction in uncertain times. I’m privileged to have a roof over my head, food on the table, a basketball hoop, and a dog and siblings to annoy or entertain me. I’m privileged to have WiFi and devices to complete my classwork with. Most of all, I’m privileged to be healthy and safe at home with not much to do.

And with that, Allegheny, please stay away from me and each other. We will get through this.