Just under 500 days ago, the first COVID-19 case was reported in the United States. Augustana students unknowingly left campus for the rest of the semester on March 7, 2020. With an approximated 18 hours a day allocated for work, school and sleep, students were left with six hours each day to spend at home. Quarantined. Alone.
Between the start of last spring break and now, that’s over 2,500 hours of isolation.
Quarantine hobbies quickly emerged for most of the world. After the Tiger King credits rolled, the internet started producing its own collection of skills to try while stuck at home. Most of the country caught onto the TikTok whipped coffee craze and tidying up with Marie Kondo, but a handful of students found their own unique ways to fill those 2,500 hours.
After returning home in spring, sophomore Annika Jacoby and her family came across an old purchase. When Jacoby was in middle school, her parents bought two kayaks to use in the river near their house in Paynesville, Minnesota.
After being sent to work from home, her family and neighbors decided that their Fridays would be best spent outdoors.
“It’s really hard to find time to do that, especially when most people are adults and working during the day,” Jacoby said. “So to have every Friday off to go float down the river — we just knew we wouldn’t have the opportunity most times in our life.”
Jacoby and her family had gone kayaking before, but with extra time on their hands, they began going every week. A friend lived with Jacoby over the summer, so the two of them went together, too.
“Everyone’s in a good mood, so it’s a great way to get to know someone,” Jacoby said.
Every once in a while, the group will see beavers swimming by their kayaks, or carp will run underneath.
“I really enjoy being out in the sun and being in nature,” Jacoby said. “I think we’ll keep doing it.”
Jose Cruz Medina
Before sophomore Jose Cruz Medina returned to campus this fall, he came across a TikTok of a girl playing the ukulele. He thought the instrument looked interesting.
“Maybe I should learn the ukulele,” Cruz said. So he decided to go buy his own.
The ukulele he chose was decorated with wooden etchings in a geometric swirling pattern. It’s just long enough to reach out past his shoulder when nestled into the crook of his right arm.
“Mine’s actually the same one that they had in that video,” Cruz said.
Initially, the skill was hard to pick up. Cruz chose a few songs he liked and learned the chords. Once he got the hang of it, the ukulele became a way to pass the time in quarantine. Cruz also said that quarantine brought up a lot of trauma for him.
“It kind of made mental health more towards the front of my mind as well,” Cruz said.
For him, playing ukulele became a way to relieve the stress of isolation.
“It definitely has helped a lot with stress as well during the semester,” Cruz said.
He joined the new ukulele club on campus. The group opened for singer Emma Jude at a Union Board of Governors (UBG) coffeehouse event in the dining hall.
“It’s so much fun, and learning music is even more fun,” Cruz said. “I love music, so jamming out was just my go-to.”
Despite campus opening back up, some professors still opted for Zoom classes to help decrease COVID-19 exposure or lessen the amount of classes in one building. Senior Emilee Kreykes knew she needed something to help keep her focused while doing classwork remotely, so she started embroidering.
Kreykes said she started playing around with embroidery when she was much younger but never took it seriously until recently.
“I have little kicks of it. I got on another little kick of it around December because I had a lot of the stuff already,” Kreykes said. “I needed something to do with my time that didn’t use a lot of brain power.”
Over the last few months, Kreykes created delicately threaded images of little mushrooms, bunches of flowers and femenine silhouettes.
“I’m not always super good at coming up with my own ideas, so I found that one online,” Kreykes said about her mushroom design.
Kreykes already works as the shop floor person for the theater department, and she makes her own clothing. She knew that embroidery was a cheap way to satisfy her need for crafting while in quarantine.
“It’s also just super meditative,” Kreykes said. “It’s a little addicting too. It’s hard to put down once I get going.”
While most of Kreykes’s work so far has been on scrap fabric, she hopes to use embroidery to help repair clothing with tears or holes.
“Things shouldn’t just be thrown away because they aren’t perfect,” Kreykes said.
Kreykes said she can use embroidery to help her wind down, too. For her, it’s a task that keeps her occupied while her mind can work on other things.
“It’s a really nice way to do something that feels productive when it’s hard to do things that feel productive,” Kreykes said.