By Lexi Torrence
Every hundred miles or so, a sign hung over the highway flashing the message “GO HOME, STAY HOME.” I was trying my best to get there.
Even before the pandemic started, I knew the spring of 2020 would be a season of change for my life. I was supposed to graduate college with a degree in journalism, get my first professional job, leave home and move to a new state to live with my boyfriend. I had no idea I would be doing all of this during a worldwide crisis.
Finishing my education away from campus was hard, sad, draining and every other emotion. I still grieve the last bits of college that I was so looking forward to. Now I have new experiences, and a new life, to get used to.
I’m settling into Savannah, Georgia. I’m surrounded by moving boxes as I finish the last days of my final semester of college. I’m still looking for a job, but I’m using the copious amount of free time I have to try and adjust to this era stage in my life.
Of course, I’m following the sign’s advice. I’m finally home, and I’m going to stay here.
By Denali Culver
It has been a month since I hurriedly packed up my life in South Carolina and rushed back to my home in Anchorage, Alaska. Now, our corona curve has been in decline for over a week and parts of my town are opening back up.
My friends are excited at the idea of seeing others again, but I’m still worried. With two immune-compromised parents in their mid-fifties, there’s no chance of me getting to venture back into the world for quite some time.
Eventually, I’ll have to move in with a friend so as not to put them at risk when I go back to work. But for now, my family and I continue to hike daily in order to remind ourselves that the world is beautiful, life is still full and there is a light at the end of this very long tunnel.
By Landon Stamper
I used to park in the Blossom Street parking garage on campus every day. I enjoyed my walk from the garage to the journalism school each day because it gave me a chance to get some exercise, see the beautiful campus and potentially see a friend or two along the way.
The parking garage now sits empty, with no car in sight. It’s a bit eerie to see something that was once so full be so vacant. It serves as a reminder of how empty our campus has become due to the coronavirus pandemic. Hopefully, there will come a time soon when students can use the garage again and populate classes and buildings like normal.
By Joseph Leonard
A MacBook, a cold brewed coffee, a pad and pencil. Those four things have been the most consistent things in my life in the past couple of months.
Across the country millions have been settling down inside their homes to work from home, but in Lexington, South Carolina there’s a different picture. It seemed as if most were doing so initially at the end of March and beginning of April. Now it’s more like it’s business as usual.
With sports cancelled and socializing with friends discouraged, Netflix, Hulu and my Xbox have become my new best friends. However, I still work part-time at night so I haven’t been completely cooped in my house.
I’m praying that our health care workers receive the supplies and support they need. I’m praying that our leading epidemiologists, elected officials and economists decide a safe return to normal over an overly eager return. And as a couple of states have already begun to reopen – South Carolina being one of them – I can only pray it’s the right decision.
By McKenzie Lindberg
It has been one month since we published our first stories in quarantine. One month doesn’t seem very long. In some ways, last month feels like ages ago. Since then, I’ve moved to another state. I have a new apartment, a new license, new roommates, and in just a few short weeks I’ll start a new career.
A month ago I was a confused senior in college whose final weeks of her college career had been snatched away. I remember being so sad and filled with so many questions – when will I see my friends again? When will I be back at my Columbia apartment? Will I get to graduate? Is my post-graduate job still intact?
I’m amazed at how easily and quickly the human race adjusts to circumstances out of our control. Quarantine is the new normal. No, I haven’t seen my friends – yet. No, I didn’t spend another night in my Columbia apartment. Yes, I will get to graduate – just not until August. Yes, my post-graduate job is still intact, thankfully.
My main questions have been answered but there’s still so much about the future that’s unknown. And what’s crazy is that I’m entirely okay with that.
By Maria Jutton
Seven weeks ago, the view from my desk was completely different. I looked out the windows to our greenhouse garden studio next to the historic Horseshoe on our UofSC campus. I was surrounded by a cacophony of typing, talking and television sounds in our newsroom, and I often wished to escape those surroundings to focus on my own work when a deadline was fast approaching.
Now, I sit at my dining room table, where I’ve set up a new workspace with the same items I collected for my desk in our newsroom. I look out my windows and see green pastures where our cows graze every few days. I hear my mom doing laundry or preparing food, but no other voices. While some of this helps me focus and increases productivity, I miss walking over to a friend’s desk to get their input on an article, or laughing together at an inside joke.
It’s strange, but it’s become a new normal regardless. And as college ends and a new life stage begins for me, I’m looking forward to taking the memories and skills of working through a pandemic into graduate school and beyond.
By Mae Bing
Being quarantined is a rollercoaster of emotions. One day I’m fine and the next I’m not. Before everything happened, I enjoyed being home and spending time by myself, but now I wish I could go out with family and friends.
This experience is definitely different, but it also made me aware of how fragile life is and how much we take little things for granted. On the bright side, being indoors gave me more time to come up with creative business ideas.
By Cole Smithson
What looks like a typical, beautiful South Carolina day is more of a sign of the times. COVID-19 regulations have closed many public pools, parks, beaches, etc. including the one at my apartment complex, Vista Towers.
Just two months ago I was looking forward to spending many hot spring days out at the pool I’d come to love in August. Now all I get is an empty symbol of the coronavirus era that I can see from my balcony.
By Savannah Kennedy
I rarely went to the mini golf course at my apartment building before the quarantine, but now I go almost every day.
Instead of staying in my room and fighting the urge to crawl back into bed, I grab a cup of coffee and head to the amenity deck. I sit down at a picnic table, open my laptop and plug in my headphones. I write my final articles for Carolina News & Reporter, edit my resume, work on my portfolio website and apply for jobs.
In the several hours I spend out there, a steady stream of other residents filter in and out to study, take exams or attend virtual classes. Everyone stays six feet apart but enjoys other peoples’ company.
While I never envisioned finishing my degree on a mini golf course, it’s comforting to have other students around me who are going through the same thing.
By Laurryn Thomas
Isolating from others means a good excuse to spend all my time outdoors and surround myself in nature. My quarantine has been filled with walks, bike rides, lying outside in my hammock and spending nights by a fire pit between doing schoolwork online. I’ve found that the best way to unwind and be grateful during a difficult time is to get outside.
After the initial shock of my mom losing her job, graduation getting postponed and potentially moving my wedding date, quarantine has calmed down for me. I’m enjoying quiet routines at home more than I expected and I’m accepting the fact that no one knows what will happen with the pandemic. Transitioning into job hunting will be another stressor, but for now I am enjoying the slow pace of staying with family.
By Maddox McKibben-Greene
Though life as we once knew it has been utterly upended, my deadlines have remained mostly the same. Graduation requirements haven’t budged. My future success still hinges on the choices I make now, as time waits for no one.
That is why I can reduce the majority of the last month or so to my friend’s apartment patio, where I have been sitting in a pollen-dusted lawn chair with my laptop on my knees, trying my hardest to tie together my various projects before I turn my attention toward my big move to Taiwan, where I’ll get my master’s degree, in September.
My friends have been asking if I am nervous to make this large a move right after graduation. I’m not sure of the answer yet, and as I sit on this patio and watch the day turn to night, I think about all the things that could still go wrong. However, it is time to move on to the next chapter of my life, I think…I just have to tie up all my loose ends first.
By Madison Poindexter
I enjoy being alone. I love to sit on my front porch, pen and paper in hand, comfortably writing my introspective thoughts. But having no face-to-face interaction for weeks on end is a little too much even for an introvert.
I miss my friends, and I’m sad about the experiences we’ve missed and worried about the challenges ahead. While the initial shock of the global pandemic has worn off, I still feel unsure about the future.
For now, I’ll sit on my porch and write in my journal to try to make sense of today’s world.