The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


Student Voices: One Year in Quarantine

Around a year ago, on March 11, 2020, the coronavirus outbreak was officially declared a pandemic.

In what ways do you feel like you have grown throughout the past year of quarantine?

“Although this is not the way I had anticipated this year to go, there have been many opportunities for personal development … I’ve taken the time to genuinely reflect back on how I perceive life. Personally, I have started to appreciate what I have and search for the positives in each situation. On top of that, I have had much more time for self-care, whether that be watching YouTube or going out for walks to clear my mind. Overall, not only have I grown mentally into a more aware and mindful individual, but physically, as I am now more active.” — Sasmitha Rajesh, 9

“I feel that I have grown in a lot of areas throughout quarantine. Before COVID-19 hit, I didn’t have a great work ethic and I often procrastinated on a lot of assignments and didn’t study too much for tests. As the year progressed, I started to realize the lazy things I was doing and slowly fixed it and it has really improved my quality of life! So on the weekends I make a big chart on what I have to do the following week like homework, studying for school/APs, and extracurriculars. I also make a schedule for myself every week (usually the same every week) but I use it to help balance my home and school life as well as my personal activities like FaceTiming friends for fun. I also make at least an hour and a half every day to play with my dog. Another thing that I found helpful was waking up around 6:45 every day, taking my dog on a walk, and then taking a cold shower before school starts which really clears my mind off of stress.” — Eashan Dhodapkar, 10

“The first thing and most important thing I learned during quarantine was not to take my friends and family for granted, so I grew during the process of maintaining and strengthening all of my close relationships. I spent more quality time with my parents and shared almost all the details of my life with them because I realized how much I enjoyed their company now that I saw them everyday. I also learned to reach out to my friends to keep in touch and drive the conversation instead of just when I needed to talk to them about schoolwork and similar things. Being in isolation helped me appreciate the connections more. Finally I was able to build a healthy eating and workout schedule for myself, which used to be really chaotic before quarantine because of the activities I had.”— Katie Lu, 11

“I would say that quarantine has allowed me to find new ways to manage myself and my time more effectively. I found myself increasingly valuing my mental and physical well-being. For instance, I am more drawn to the outdoors and to exercise as well as making sure I take time off to myself to recuperate from stressful days. Quarantine has also allowed me to spend more time with my family, especially since this is my last year of high school. I feel like I have grown in adapting my leadership to this fully online medium. I have learned how to better communicate with my teams in the clubs and organizations I am part of and have become a bit more resilient to such drastic changes and am able to better adapt to unexpected circumstances. — Neha Gondra, 12

In what ways has the past year of quarantine impacted the way you think about your future?

“I think that this time at home allowed me to debate my future options for my careers in life. It definitely had me more stressed out because everything was so uncertain; we wouldn’t know what would happen next.” — Karmen Johal, 9

“Before quarantine, my future plans mostly involved getting good grades, getting into my dream college, getting a stable job, etc. However, this past year of quarantine has helped me realize something more important than these goals; it helped me realize the importance of prioritizing family. My family and countless others across the nation have bonded during this pandemic, so I hope in the future, even when quarantine is over, we can continue to value the ones dearest to us and spend more time with them.” — Shelley Li, 10

“I feel that quarantine has helped me be more positive. I now try to think on the positive side while before quarantine I was more stressed out and had more of a negative mentality. Since quarantine gave me more time to do things I wanted, I feel like my future would be a lot more productive and having a positive mindset will definitely help me conquer that positive future.” — Noah Francisco, 11

“I’ve always been really interested in pursuing a career in medicine. Seeing the crucial role [that] healthcare workers have played in making huge sacrifices and caring for vulnerable populations during this past year has cemented my decision that going into a healthcare career, [which] is what I intend to shoot for.” — Varun Sridhar, 12

Cover graphic by Opinion Editor Aria Lakhmani

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