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From independent college student to social distancing at my parents house: What it’s like being forced home during COVID-19

Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, otherwise known as the novel Coronavirus, my college education has moved online and I was forced to leave my self reliant life behind.

On Monday, March 16th I was enjoying time with friends, on Tuesday I was packing up my dorm and by Wednesday I was counting toilet paper rolls at my parents house. 

That last part was a joke (kind of), but this timeline shows how COVID-19 uprooted my life at college within 48 hours. 

This was incredibly frustrating for me. I was being forced to leave my dorm by the university. The university I attend handled coronavirus concerns very well, better than most colleges, but emotionally it was draining. 

Having to leave my best friends, my job, my education and extra-curriculars so quickly was horrible to say the least. I can’t even think about all the missed opportunities this semester without getting upset. This will leave a scar on not only my college experience, but every college student’s experience.   

University of Minnesota Duluth houses thousands of students on campus. Due to COVID-19, a majority had to move back home. Photos courtesy UMD Housing & Residence Facebook

 I’ll give you some insight on this timeline.On the night of March 16th my parents called me and told me they would be at my dorm by 11 in the morning the next day. This meant I had to pack up my whole life with less than 24 hours notice. To say I was stressed would be an understatement. 

Besides having to pack up my life, I had to tell my work I wasn’t coming in until further notice. Thankfully, my boss was understanding, but to lose income isn’t ideal for anyone. I am privileged to be able to fall back on my parents during this time, as I know others can’t.

Any college student coming back to live with their parents obviously loses some of their independence. “Their house, their rules” right? No person over the age of 20 wants to hear that but now they have to.

Ever since I got home from school I haven’t left my house besides the occasional walk, per my parents order. Don’t get me wrong, I think social distancing is the right thing to do, but I didn’t really have a choice. Because of COVID-19, panic has ensued. Though my parents are level-headed, they too are starting to worry about supplies. Maybe a little too much if you ask me (but what do I know?). 

I never thought my life would come to a point where my parents tell me I am using too much toilet paper. Or to the point where I am afraid to get a snack because my parents might yell at me. I am getting flashbacks to when I was nine. 

There are small things my parents do, not related to coronavirus, that make me feel like I am still in high school. For example, telling me to clean my room. It’s not your room, don’t come in here if it bothers you! 

Disclaimer: I am not a slob, I just have some clothes on my floor and I don’t put my laundry away right away, but according to my mom, my room is a “disaster area.”

Also, my parents keep telling me to go outside and get exercise. I love hiking and going on nature walks, sometimes. But maybe I want to stay in my room all day playing The Sims 4 and watching Gossip Girl for the sixth time. 

Not all things are bad during my time here. I get free food, home cooked meals, my own room (which I didn’t have in the dorms) and, most of all, somewhere safe to be during these hard times. I understand that many people during this time are struggling for many different reasons and I am lucky to have a safe place where I am taken care of. 

I am incredibly thankful to my parents for providing this to me during these troubling times. Though these problems are small, it is hard for anyone to change their routine so quickly. 

Every college student is going through these changes and there are many ways to help ease the process. 

Keeping things lighthearted and positive helps a lot. What really keeps me positive are the memes all over social media about quarantine and social distancing. Knowing that so many people are going through the same thing really helps me remain positive and alleviate loneliness. 

Making jokes about this ⁠— while also understanding the seriousness of the situation⁠ — gives me and others a positive attitude about the current situation. A negative attitude during this time will only make you feel worse and won’t be productive towards anything. Anyway, stay safe and wash your hands, folks.

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