One lazy Sunday afternoon at home, I was laying in bed thinking about this strange timeline we’ve all found ourselves living, and wondering what I could write to bottle it up. And because this quarantine has been just a little too long, and my motivation to write just a little too low, I decided to have other people do the work for me this time.
… Ok, ok, it didn’t really go down like that – I’m just kidding (mostly).
No, the reality is I got tired of hearing my voice read back my own words, my opinions and my perspectives alone on what is a collective story.
The very source of my frustrations is in the name: a global pandemic. How could I tell the story of a global event from the perspective of one 22-year-old kid writing from his childhood bedroom in a small suburban (bordering rural) town in Connecticut? I couldn’t.
So I called in some favors. Below, you’ll find words from my friends and family around the world, from a small suburban town in California to the other side of the globe in Hong Kong, China. Each person was kind enough to contribute a short journal entry, giving everyone who reads this article a glimpse into their lives, as well as their corner of the world, during this unquestionably strange time.
Some are light, others are sobering; some are filled with purpose, others are searching for it; some prompt questions, others answer them.
Together, they make a day in the life of a global pandemic.
Lynn–Annina Dubs, 20 // Zurich, Switzerland
Since the isolation started, I find myself waking up quite early without any alarm. Before that – in my normal daily life I mean – I always felt stressed in the mornings, packing everything and leaving the house in time to make it to school okay. Since now my school is only a few footsteps and a computer log-in away, that stress is gone. If my online classes don’t start till later in the day (which is a scenario that very often occurs) I leave the house around 7:30ish to go for a nice long walk with my dog. She’s a golden retriever and loves that I’m hanging out at home more often than before. I’ve always gone for short walks, but I’m not usually as present as I am now.
I always felt like studying or going to the gym and working out was more important than “just” going for a walk. I asked myself why I could not make time to go and take at least 60 minutes a day to just be – breathe, play with my dog and enjoy that beautiful forest right above my house. I had spent so many hours there when I was a kid, but with school and everything… Anyhow, it’s 7:34 and I’m about to leave the house, my dog’s already wiggling her tale and all smiles because she knows what time it is.
Brianna Goldberg, 23 // New York City, New York, United States
It’s 9:26 AM, and I’ve been snoozing my alarm for 36 minutes. I lunge for my work computer while successfully remaining under my covers, and log on. My Skype icon goes green before 9:30 and I’m one minute early for work. Nice. I respond to a few emails to make it seem like I started my workday earlier than I did. Little do my coworkers know that as I am typing out “Good Morning! Hope you had a nice weekend,” I am scraping sleep out of the corner of my eyes and have morning breath that is offensive even to me. I finally get up for my first cup of joe.
Nikki Havens, 22 // Lafayette, California, US
I’m sitting at my kitchen table, drinking my coffee and eating a leftover blueberry pancake. CNN discussing the “latest coronavirus updates” on a loop is surprisingly not playing on our television because my dad has switched to watching Billions. My 20-year-old brother asks me what I’m doing today and I genuinely don’t have a good answer. I graduated college last week, finished up all my stuff, and my on-campus job ended, so this is a weird feeling. However, I think I’ll start reading my Zoom book club’s novel (Emma) that I’m way behind on and water the vegetable garden I planted yesterday.
Heaven Kim, 22 // Seoul, South Korea
Graduated college today in my hoodie. No caps and gowns, no fancy dress with a champagne bottle on my hand. Just me, alone, scrolling through my Instagram. Oh – just got a text from the government that the 94th Covid-19 patient from a nightclub party this weekend has been confirmed. No shame honey, I wish I was dancing off my loneliness and getting tipsy with homies on a Saturday night too. Instead, I wear my mask and sanitize my hands. Well, at least I’m blessed not to quarantine like I did in San Francisco a month ago. I feel productive that my side of the world is not paused, and I pray that we will all dance together outside of Zoom and Facetime in the near future.
Claudia Tung, 22 // Hong Kong, China
I just came back from the supermarket with tonight and tomorrow’s dinner: salmon, kale, asparagus and potatoes! Ever since returning to HK almost two months ago because of the pandemic, I’ve been eating out a lot less for hygienic and social distancing reasons, so I’ve been more watchful of my diet. I’ve also been trying to stay active, but the virus posed a challenge until very recently. Gyms have finally opened up again, so I’m currently debating if I should pay the climbing gym a visit. I’m still a little worried about the germs and bacteria though, since I’ll be touching holds that many others have touched and stepped on. I could also just do a home workout, which is what I’ve been doing the past several weeks. But to be honest, it does get boring.
There is also the looming task of finding a job now that I’ve graduated, a task that I have continued to delay to complete because the pandemic and the recession have been extremely discouraging. I’m worried I will be wasting one of the prime years of my life doing nothing.
Allya Dubs, 29 // Magaret River, Australia
I just knocked off. I’ve been helping out as a barista in a little cafe for the past two weeks. Stepping outside, I feel the sun on my skin as I suck in the crisp air – the weather is slowly shifting and we’re heading into winter. I try to cherish every moment I get to spend outside before the weather disintegrates. After a month of self-isolation with no work, I’m still struggling to find a routine. My days feel like cut up pieces of paper strewn all over the floor which I’m constantly trying to pick up and sort into some kind of order.
The travel restrictions that have been imposed on Western Australia will dissolve in 5 days, and the town seems to await the influx of tourists with excitement and melancholic skepticism. As I drive through town, it feels almost normal again, with people on the streets going about their business. I’m eager to get back home to my abode, nestled in the forest, with only the birds to steal the silence.
Hayden Tutty, 21 // Boston, Massachusetts, US
I’m curled up on the couch with my laptop with about 25 tabs open for remote job positions. I keep starting a new cover letter and then abandoning it five minutes later. I just finished having my routine midday coffee break with my boyfriend, who is currently working a few feet away from me on the same couch. My main plans for today include doing laundry and cleaning my apartment again.
I finished finals last week, but lack of structure scares me, so I signed up for summer classes. They start next week. Feeling lost and unsettled – maybe its time for more coffee.
Anni Persson, 22 // Vancouver, Canada
I am sitting on the mattress on the floor of my new apartment, after spending three days struggling to move because of Vancouver’s limited transportation. The sun is shining and I am trying to relax inside, finding whatever I have left to watch on Netflix. My boyfriend is the next room, endlessly working to find employment in an ever slowing economy. My thoughts go to my family across the world in Sweden who are free to roam around without restrictions. Meanwhile, Vancouver is taking cautious steps toward opening up.
The rare wonderful summer weather in Vancouver makes me want to leave the apartment and explore, but my fear and morals keep me inside for now. I hope my online university courses can keep me entertained and occupied for the next few weeks. I stay positive knowing that my family and friends are healthy.
Aleksandr Beaudoin, 23 // Pomfret, Vermont, US
I’m sitting at my home office (a desk in my bedroom with some magazines on it) about to handwrite some entries for the novel I’m currently finishing. It’s been an ongoing process for the last year, so I’m genuinely thrilled to have time to focus on it (trying to look at the bright side). I recently did my workout for the day at my home gym (a pair of dumbells), which I do before writing to clear my mind and get the energy flowing. Currently, my mind is pretty at ease, although I am starting to go a little stir crazy from missing the constant energy in NYC.
Luckily, Vermont hasn’t been hit too badly by the pandemic (it’s in the local culture to social distance anyway), and there are times I can forget about the whole situation and simply dive into creative hobbies, such as writing, drawing, and lately, watching classic films from the ’60s (I’m late to everything). I often think about the impact this is going to have on our economy and how things will socially change following this pandemic. But for now, I’m putting aside any worries and focusing on the world of my novel. And wiping down every doorknob I see.
Maria Castillo, 22 // Elizabeth, New Jersey, US
Logging off all work apps on my laptop feels so good right now. After about eight hours of staring at a screen, answering phone calls and emails for my remote job, I need a break. My mom is the only other person in my house right now, and at this time she is usually glued to the TV, so I’ll just look at another screen to keep her company in the living room. I can’t really go out many places, since I don’t have a car handy and my mom thinks COVID-19 is in the air and can strike the same person more than once.
Rather than going through the trouble of walking somewhere with a mask and gloves, then coming back home only to disinfect everything and take a shower, I choose to spend my days hanging out with my mom.
Kate Wauschek, 22 // Cleveland, Ohio, US
I just got back to my childhood home in Cleveland, Ohio after spending the last however many weeks in LA, my new home. I had to take a plane today. I flew to Detroit because there were no direct flights to Cleveland and having a layover seemed like the worst possible solution. Flying in the pandemic was something I absolutely dreaded. The hassle of flying is what had stopped me from coming home up to this point – having to wear a mask from the time I stepped into the airport to the time I stepped into my house; going through security while still trying to not touch or be near anything or anyone; being completely alert for nine straight hours to ensure that I did not endanger my family by carrying the virus.
But, after five months (two of which were in isolation), I needed to see my family. It feels weird walking into my home where my Mom, Dad and sister all have a routine that they’ve been following for weeks, almost like I’m entering their world. There wasn’t a warm welcome with lots of hugs and kisses, or excitement about what we get to do now that I’m home. But, at the end of the day, I am really glad I’m home and surrounded by the people that I love.
Linus Jacobson, 22 // Lund, Sweden
I just got back from a picnic in the city park with my mum and some family members. It was her birthday, but being the year of Covid-19 it was bound to be a bit different. Instead of birthday hugs, it was socially distanced greetings; instead of a family feast, it was just those of us who lived the closest and not in the risk-zone. We were blessed with nice weather (almost the first time of the year) and naturally, I wondered how the summer is gonna turn out. Hopefully, if we are as lucky as today, this summer won’t be too bad, just different.
Alexis D., 29 // Medellin, Colombia
I’m on the phone with my parents again, they’re calling to check in on the situation here in Colombia, and how it’s different from back home in the U.S. They’re worried about social and political unrest with the current quarantine; I think I am too, but not to the same degree. Today was my day that I could go to the store, so I got a few groceries. The rule here is that you have a specific day every week you can go to the store or bank, depending on your ID number.
After exercising, working, cooking, cleaning, and this phone call, I think I’ll go sit on my balcony. I’ll read a book to try to distract myself from the possibility that my landlord might not be able to pay rent, and that I might have to move from this apartment I’ve made so cozy during the pandemic.
Ryan Hart, 22 // St. Louis, Missouri, US
It’s just after 9 PM and my family and I are settling in for a little Netflix and wine time. I’m so grateful to be in quarantine here with them rather than on my own in San Francisco, even though it’s hard to be away from the city I love. This pandemic has really turned back the clock for me. Hanging out, cooking and eating with my family all the time after living alone for the last four years really makes it feel like I’m back in high school on summer vacation. We haven’t had this much time together in quite a while and I think it’s bringing us all closer.
While I try to stay home as much as possible, I have gone out to stores occasionally for supplies and have begun to notice the differences in “quarantine culture” between Missouri and California. In SF, where every interaction/transaction is regulated to the point of feeling medical to promote public health, everyone is required to wear a mask outside their home and people are generally complying. In Missouri on the other hand, protective gear is not required and at most half of the people I see out and about are wearing it. Even some elderly people and other high-risk groups seem to think they don’t need to protect themselves and others. In the rush to reopen the state, it makes me angry that some people think taking basic precautions aren’t necessary, especially when they’re the ones who complain the loudest about wanting a haircut.
All entries were written and contributed between March 10 & March 16, 2020. All photos were submitted by contributors themselves.
DISCLAIMER: This article attempts to tell a select few stories of this historic time from a global perspective. It was not written under the pretext to highlight the stories of every single person impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, as that would be impossible. Everyone has been impacted by this pandemic in different ways, and it is abundantly clear that that impact has not been equal. This article is simply a compilation of perspectives that friends and family of the author were willing to share.