The first time I heard of the coronavirus was through social media back in December. There were so many memes going around about it being linked to the Corona beer, the Chinese culture and more.
At the time, I did not think any more of it than being a simple disease in China with an ironic name that could easily be turned into a humorous meme. However, no one is laughing anymore.
I continued to not think much of the virus leading up to spring break. I was excited to come home, see all of my friends and to have some time to decompress. COVID-19 was the last thing on my mind.
Then, schools began to cancel spring semester.
Every day, my friends from other schools were receiving emails about an extended spring break due to COVID-19. I wanted this more than anything.
Having an extra week of no schoolwork and extra time with my hometown friends? It sounded like bliss.
And then Thursday March 12 came, and Ole Miss made the call for online school to begin for the rest of the semester.
You would think making a call like this would help me realize the magnitude of this pandemic, but it still did not.
Throughout all of this, I thought the media was to blame, even being a journalism student. I thought it was all being blown out of proportion and it would go away in the matter of weeks.
I specifically remember when the magnitude of the situation at hand really hit me.
I had spent the day out shopping and driving around with my two best friends. It was a warm and sunny day for Connecticut in March, hence my spirits were high.
When I returned home, my dad said it would be best if from now on, I would limit going out and seeing my friends.
“Things are going to get a lot worse before they get any better,” he said.
He then told me about the travel ban that had been put into place by the president. This really opened my eyes.
My grandmother, at the time, was on a cruise in Spain, and she was going to be stuck in Spain until further notice. This news brought a cloud of worry above my house.
Since then, quarantining has become the latest trend, and there has been a lot of adjusting.
I always considered myself a homebody. Not any longer.
Staying positive, staying in a new routine and staying indoors tends to take the fun out of having a day in.
The biggest challenge I think all families in quarantine are experiencing is their families. College students, young adults, toddlers, babies, fifth graders, dogs, cats, moms and dads are all under one roof now and tensions are high.
My sister and I have always been close, and we have always gotten into fights as all siblings do. However, the constant time together has definitely heightened the latter. The stress and uncertainty of the pandemic, the close proximity and limited alone time has heightened tensions within my household.
While I personally am a big fan of my alone time, and while tensions were certainly high when we were first all together, I actually think this pandemic is making my family closer. And the way we are bonding is actually through visiting the past.
A couple of weeks ago, my family spent the weekend cleaning out our basement. While it is not my favorite past time, we ended up finding several treasures including old home videos.
Now, every night, my family sits down in our dining room and we watch two or three of the cassettes. It is something we all look forward to, and it helps remind us how fortunate we are even during these difficult times.
The other day, my dad and I found our old Wii. We spent time together setting it up, and now my sister and I work up a sweat and work on increasing our scores in “Just Dance” just about every day.
These are tough times for families across the globe financially, physically, mentally and emotionally. Your family will most definitely get on your nerves. I know mine did.
However, COVID-19 and the quarantine has actually taught me a lot about how to be thankful, especially for your family.
A piece of advice I have to share is to take a walk down memory lane with your family. Find your old Wii or Nintendo DS and crush your sibling in Mario Kart. Find old home videos and make it a family event. Find your old cringey, middle school clothes and try to make them into something new if you get that bored.
Yes, quarantine is not fun, and nobody wants to do it. But, remember to be grateful and think of simpler times.
Maddie Pipech, 18, is a freshman studying journalism at the University of Mississippi from Southeastern Connecticut, where she graduated from the Marine Science Magnet High School in 2019.
She loves spending time with friends and her dog, Jax, in Connecticut. She also loves traveling and exploring nearby Rhode Island and Boston.
When she is not doing school work, she loves to be creative and paint. Back home, Pipech played volleyball for three years, varsity lacrosse all of her high school career and was captain her senior year. She volunteered as a co-religious educator on Sundays with two friends and was also vice president of National Honor Society.
On campus, she is a member of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority and the Ole Miss Club Lacrosse team. In Oxford, she loves to go to Hotworx with her sister and try new restaurants in town.
Pipech is unsure about her future career path, but is open to new experiences to help narrow her interests and discover that occupation.