March 2020 feels like a lifetime ago. I remember being in my apartment in Philadelphia with my five roommates when we got the email that Temple University was going fully online due to the COVID-19. Although schools were closing around the U.S., I was still shocked to find that we were going remote. My roommates and I cried as we soon realized that we would all be going back to our hometowns and would no longer have our nightly gossiping sessions.
As I drove from Philly to Seaside Heights, NJ, I got deep into my feelings. How was I going to stay busy when I was forced to quarantine in my house? Not only that, but how was I going to keep myself sane being with my family at all hours of the day?
At the beginning of the pandemic, I had a lot of negative thoughts. Now I couldn't be more at peace with myself physically and internally. I came to find that the pandemic allowed me to focus on myself and take a vacation from my old everyday hectic lifestyle. Turns out, I learned and realized a lot from being quarantined during COVID-19, which are as follows.
Enjoying the little things with my family
The time spent at home allowed me to become closer to my family. Before the pandemic, my twin and I barely spent any time together. She was in Manhattan, New York, going to college at Fordham University while I was in the neighboring city of Philadelphia. We both went to school full-time and the only chance we got to bond was during holidays or breaks. Not being able to hang out with other friends, we had the opportunity to get to know each other better and create that sisterly bond.
The same goes for my younger brother. Having a seven year age gap isn't easy, so it was always hard to find things we both liked to do. While he was busy playing Xbox games till 3 a.m., I was more interested in tanning at the beach. The months spent in quarantine allowed us to do a bit of both of our interests. I would play Xbox games with him as long as he agreed to lay out by our pool the next morning. As for my mom, she couldn't have been happier that I came back to Jersey. She liked having a full house again, and we became
closer because of it.
2. Becoming happier with myself
Another thing that I was able to do was focus on myself. I realized quickly that my mental health wasn't at the best place in March. I was always stressed, and barely took the time to relax. My mind was so used to doing so many things at once that when I finally had the chance to just focus on my online classes, I did way better in school. I became very studious, and worked super hard to get straight A’s. Due to my efforts, I made the Dean's List and came out of my sophomore year with a higher GPA!
Besides my academic standing, I picked up new hobbies such as painting. Painting was a form of therapy for me, and I genuinely enjoyed doing it. Turns out, I'm not as bad at art as I thought. I was also able to pick up tennis again. Going back to play tennis at my old high school’s courts was super nostalgic. Lastly, I dyed my hair, got a tattoo and a piercing and felt my self confidence come back. It had been so long since I did something for myself that my hometown friends didn’t recognize me right away. I became more aware of who I was and what I enjoyed. Finally, I was able to figure out how I stood out as a person.
Once the COVID-19 quarantine regulations began to lift and businesses started to reopen, I realized that I had to find a job. Once my dream internship that was supposed to take place in Center City Philadelphia transitioned to being online, I soon found that I had to get a job to keep busy. I was tired of being home all the time, and I really wanted to start working again. I found myself applying to many different jobs in my area, but couldn't find anything that I liked.
One day my friend asked me if i wanted to work with her at Playa Bowls on the Seaside Heights Boardwalk. With working by the beach every day being so tempting, the next thing I knew I was making smoothies. Not only did I love the people I worked with but I enjoyed the work I was doing. I learned how to open and close a business, and work in the customer service industry. My boss gave me a lot of duties that allowed me to better myself in the workplace. I learned that waking up at 7 a.m. every morning was normal for someone working full time. I managed to develop a good work ethic from working more than eight hours a day five days a week. In the end, I spent my summer watching the sunrise on the beach, and drinking fruit smoothies.
All in all, my summer spent in NJ during a pandemic was a significant one. I learned how to get along with my family, how to love myself, and how to have a strong work ethic. The summer, although short lived, was not as bad as I thought it would have been. Turns out that taking a pause from normal life allows you to learn things you wouldn't have otherwise. The experience taught me a lot, but I'm still counting down the days when I can return to the City of Brotherly Love. Hopefully I'll be reuniting with my fellow owls at Temple in the Spring 2021!
This blog post was written by Lillian Sclafani, TSG Representative