Things I Learned During my Summer Back Home
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.