ECU students walk through the courtyard next to Joyner Library.

Names have been changed to protect the identity of students.

Quarantine and Chill?

Here at East Carolina University 1,550 students have tested positive according to ECU’s official website; a few weeks ago my friends and I became a part of that statistic. You are probably thinking, “oh goodness, another article about COVID-19, what about it this time?” But have you heard insider stories on what goes on during the long and dreadful 10-day quarantine once you have tested positive for coronavirus? Well, let me tell you about my friends and my own experiences with this vile virus. I want to take you through what happened and how it has affected us as students and as young adults.

I was laying in bed when my roommate, Alexis, facetimed me and told me to check my email. When I did, I found out that I had been exposed to COVID-19 from an event I had attended on-campus with her and a few other close friends. My heart dropped as we panicked to hurry to schedule appointments to get tested. We were tested the same day, a Tuesday, and began to quarantine until we got our positive results back the next morning. The first thing that went through our minds was “what are we going to eat?” then we got really worried about our health and well-being.

Alexis and I started showing symptoms that same Tuesday and had symptoms for about 5-6 days after. My symptoms were a slight cough for a few days, pressure in my chest, body aches and very bad fatigue. Alexis experienced the same symptoms but also had bad headaches and a sore throat. Neither one of us developed a fever or lost our sense of smell and taste, which was surprising to us since they were very common symptoms. When you test positive through student health, they have you fill out a form every morning to check up on you. They use this form to make sure you are getting better while also having a way to notify your professors that you have tested positive and are in quarantine.

Doing homework while not feeling well is never fun. No student wants to do it. Imagine feeling like you have the flu, not having the energy to get out of bed to even pick up your computer and having to be a full-time online student. I was lucky enough not to have any virtual meetings for my classes, so I did not have to worry about waking up for those, but I did have plenty of assignments to make up for the lack of meetings. All my professors reached out to me and were very kind and lenient with me since I was so sick. They wanted me to get rest and extended deadlines for me so I could work on it when I was feeling up to it. This really helped me out because I would get up to read my chapters and I would almost immediately fall back to sleep. Even though reading my textbook usually makes me want to fall asleep, this time it worked like melatonin because I was so exhausted from just sitting up.

As the week went on and I started to feel better I could get more work done because I had plenty of time to get caught up on stuff that I missed because I was stuck in the house. My roommate, Alexis, did not get so lucky and had Zoom meetings for her classes. When I asked her how her professors were reacting, she said “they were sweet and concerned for me, they offered to help me with anything they could. They told me not to worry about coming to the zoom meetings to take to care of myself, and said I could have extensions to complete assignments if needed.” Being the over-achieving student she is, she still went to her Zoom meetings and got most of her assignments in without needing an extension.

Even though I am proud of her for working hard, I still asked her why she put herself through that even though she did not feel good. Her response was “I had nothing else to do and was stuck in the house anyways, plus I ran out of shows to watch on Netflix.” Watching Netflix occupies a lot of our time anyways but when you are quarantined for 10-days seeing that selection of shows and the “continue watching” gets old, soon picking up your textbook starts to seem more appealing.

While it sucks doing schoolwork with Covid-19, one of the worst parts of the virus is being stuck in quarantine for 10-days. Alexis and I were fortunate enough to be stuck in the house together, since we are roommates. We checked with our doctors before interacting with each other but since we were both exposed by the same person at the same time and tested positive together then it would not make anything worse if we hung out instead of hiding in our rooms. Even though we had each other to keep us company the problem with that was figuring out who was going to bring us things we needed.

My mom and dad sent me packages of medicine and snacks to use for the week and we had friends deliver us food and supplies to get us through and to help us avoid paying high delivery costs for third-party delivery services. Everyone in our lives were very helpful and really are what got us through. Our parents were scared for us and Alexis said, “my mom started crying when I told her and tried to come up here to take care of me, but I would not let her because I did not want to expose her.” My mom said that she would come to Greenville to take care of me before I had it but when I tested positive, she told me “stay at school, you are not bringing that into my house,” but she was still very worried about me and called me multiple times a day to check on me. When I would angrily answer the phone at 3 a.m. to her calling she would always say “hey, just making sure you were still breathing, I love you” and hang up. After we started to feel better, everyone started to worry less but would still bring us our late-night milkshake cravings. Shoutout to great friends.

If I can take one thing from this whole experience it would be not wasting time sitting on the couch watching Netflix but to go out and do things that you want to do. FOMO short for “fear of missing out” was at an all-time high for us during quarantine but we made the best of it. If any of your friends contract COVID-19 make sure you reach out to check on them and if they want a late-night milkshake, go to Cookout for them. It really sucks not being able to go anywhere or do anything but that small gesture will brighten their week. Make sure you drop it off with no contact so you don’t risk exposing yourself. In short, look out for your friends.

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