SARAH SHARPE WRITES – The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed this country into the most chaotic I have ever seen! I have never been more scared and confused, simultaneously. The shutdown of LMU, along with many other college campuses, has dramatically shifted the lives of students and faculty. Places of work have shut down; restaurants, bars, and shops are closed until further notice.
I live off campus in the small community of Playa Vista, and my family lives a few hours north in Ojai. While my parents are generally healthy, my dad is nearing 70. Because of my potential exposure to the virus, I know that for another ten days I cannot be home with them. I am quarantined in my apartment with my best friend. Our online classes begin next week.
I have never seen grocery stores and pharmacies so empty. Due to stocking up last week, though, my fridge is full and I have a Costco size box of water bottles. The Amazon-Primed motion sensor soap dispenser arrived yesterday. I scrub-in every time I return home. Although I am thankful for the resources that I have access to, the feelings that come with being isolated are starting to settle in – after only three days.
As a student who is highly involved in the community, I feel as though my purpose and identity have melted away. I love being a student! I am a social butterfly. With my gym and pool closed, I can only exercise outside of the apartment building and or inside. I cannot go to restaurants, bars, or shops. Even though I know that isolation and social-distancing are necessary, I am beginning to struggle.
I worry about my friends who work in the medical field and who are first responders. I worry about my parents staying healthy. I feel as though my life is dissolving, from complex and fulfilling into nothing more than existence. This situation has forced me to reevaluate both what is most important to me and who is most important to me.
While we do not know how long this will last, it is safe to assume social isolation will be necessary for another few weeks, at least. I know that in order to keep my mental health in check, I need to stay busy. I have planned things to do every day including homework, research, puzzles, cleaning, arts and crafts, and running. If I isolate myself, I will not get sick with COVID-19, but I worry equally about both the psychological and physical effects of this experience.
While these days have been filled with anxiety and frustration, I have learned something: Never to take opportunities and chances for new experiences in life for granted. I am yearning to return to normalcy, and pray that things begin to improve sooner rather than later.
LMU undergraduate Sarah Sharpe is a Contributing Editor to Asia Media International. `