It has officially been over a year since the beginning of a worldwide quarantine. With borders closed for country and domicile alike, many people found their connections with friends and loved ones tested in many ways. Either through overexposure or prolonged separation, COVID-19 introduced new challenges facing our lives and how we connect with those around us.
“At the start of COVID,” says Brayden Pollreisz, a cyber operations major at DSU, “all of my plans really fell to crap. Me and my friends were going to see a movie and we couldn’t even do that. I haven’t seen my buddies back in Mitchell for a year now, and I’m not sure when we’ll meet up again.” Now living on campus full time in Madison, while also balancing a job and schoolwork, he feels as if he does not have the time to meet up with his pals in a world where plans have to be made in advance while somehow remaining socially distant.
“I’m not even allowed to meet new people while at this school, I never know if someone will freak out if I approach to just say hi, so I’m pretty stuck here.” Brayden continued, referring to the current social distancing expected of everyone. Remaining six feet apart while wearing a mask makes it difficult to connect with someone, especially on a first meeting, however, it is a sacrifice many have made for the sake of remaining healthy and safe.
Zoe Hendricks, cyber operations major and secretary of The Alliance, shared, “Well, to start, over the extended break, back when it all started, I was with my parents the whole time, and that was really stressful. Me and them don’t really see eye to eye, so being with them for so long was not good for me. Near the end of the semester, being around them was really impacting my work, and I was really just not in a good place.” Given the stress of being at home, Zoe was glad to have an outlet in a small group of friends, “While at first, the virus really threw a wrench in things, like our trip to the Butterfly House and Aquarium in Sioux Falls being canceled, we decided that we would still make the time to see each other.” Having picked out five close and trusted friends, Zoe and her group would spend most of their time at one person’s house, hardly going anywhere else unless absolutely necessary. However, once it was time to return to school, they had to change their plans. “All of us kept in touch through Discord and other platforms, although we mostly just sent a bunch of memes.” It was not just her small friend group that Zoe kept close with. She found connections through various clubs and online meetings, such as the Alliance and Gaming Club to name a few. This allowed an opportunity to meet new people while remaining socially responsible. Zoe admits, however, that she spends most of her time in her room, and hardly leaves for any reason, but it is not all bad in her eyes. “Unlike other halls, Courtyard is less cramped, and I can go out into the common areas whenever I want some time away from my work.” She believes the suite setup, as opposed to the standard dorm room, has had a positive impact on her prolonged time living on campus.
Both Brayden and Zoe showcase how much of an impact quarantine can have on our lives and those around us. It is important for us to remember to stay safe and be responsible for the people close to us. While vaccines are being distributed, we must still do our part, so that in the future we can make up for all the time we lost, and rebuild our relationships in a safer, COVID-free world.