Facetime Friendships

By: Ragan Love

We are two months into quarantine which means it has been two months since I have seen any of my friends. I am an extroverted person, and isolation has taken a toll on me. I am missing the friendships that I just started in Portland, and I am watching my brother try to create memories with his friends before high school ends.

The friends I met at Portland State are now scattered across the country, but we still talk regularly. The friends that I always talked to before and after band class are now the friends I  Facetime with before and after the class Zoom call. Even though I miss the hugs and boba tea runs, it’s fun to see my friends’ houses, pets and family. I have also sent letters to my friends because I can’t surprise them in real life. 

Some friendships have dwindled because we don’t see each other. I felt like I did what I could to start conversations with those friends and say that I was there for them, but they faded away. I am sad to see those friendships go but I can’t spend my love and time on people who don’t want it. I am hoping that this might just be a little break that will make our friendship stronger when we can see each other again.

I am still friends with a few people from my hometown, and it is sad that I can’t see them even though we are only five minutes away from each other. We still talk, and we give each other hope that we will hang out once it’s safer. In the meantime, we are talking about our different college experiences with each other.

My best friend attends Colorado State University, and in October, she bought a plane ticket for spring break to see me and Portland. When March rolled around, the pandemic was in full swing, and we both thought it was best to postpone the trip. I ended up coming home for the quarter, so I will be able to see her soon and she will come to Portland once it’s safe. In the meantime, we are sending each other pictures of our animals and Facetiming. 

Even my brother, who is a senior in high school, has changed his friendships. Because he is a senior he has missed out on a lot of the senior activities; ditch day, prom, and graduation. He and his friends have been doing their regular hangouts in Animal Crossing. They all decided to “ditch” class together on the Senior Ditch Day as if they would have all hung out on the regular ditch day. My brother’s friends and their families have all agreed to help them have a mini prom night. With his group of six friends they are all going to dress up and just spend one nice night together. It’s sad to see him miss out on these experiences, but I am glad that we are able to help make different experiences. His friends have also shifted their regular Dungeon and Dragon meetings online, and it has seemed to work well for them. 

All of our friendships look different now, but this experience will really show who is a true friend and will help strengthen those relationships in our life.

Staying Social During Quarantine

IMG_7345 By Claire Golden

Today, May 13, marks 58 days by my count of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. That’s a long time to go without hanging out in person with other people. I’ve seen a movement toward calling it “physical distancing” instead of “social distancing” to emphasize that while people need to physically stay apart, they can still connect in other ways. Humans are social creatures and it’s important to stay connected.

One of the ways I’ve been keeping in touch with my friends is through our weekly Dungeons & Dragons sessions. We all hop on Google Hangouts and play D&D for a few hours on Sunday nights. It’s great to catch up with them as well as getting the escape that role-playing games (RPGs) offer. We played a really fun RPG called “Honey Heist” where you’re trying to infiltrate a honey convention, but everyone is a bear. It made everybody laugh and was a good time, so I highly recommend this if you want to try out a RPG.

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Another fun thing you can do with your friends is hold a Netflix watch party, where everyone starts the movie at the same time and chats throughout. You could also play video games online, or hop on the Animal Crossing bandwagon. We held a PowerPoint party where everybody gave an informal presentation of something that interests them, which was an entertaining way to spend an evening. Topics varied from the history of World War I to Frodo and Sam’s relationship in The Lord of the Rings. It was fun to learn about my friends’ interests.

Since I’m currently away from my family, I make sure to stay in touch with them. Usually this involves texting them silly pictures I find on the Internet. We also FaceTime every two weeks or so. Phone calls are wonderful, but seeing their faces does me a lot of good…even if my dog is pretty confused when she sees my face on the computer.

Whatever you choose to do, I encourage you to take the initiative to set up a hangout with your friends. It’s important to keep physically distancing, but don’t let friendships fade just because you’re physically apart.

Homebound Hobbies

By: Adair Bingham

There’s a high chance that you’ve either given up pursuing your New Year’s resolutions or, at the very least, just simply outright forgot about them. In the same vein, maybe that new hobby or activity that you wanted to try and pick up early on in 2020 was abandoned because of a flood of work and other demanding tasks that have made it exceptionally difficult to squeeze in any time to acquire a new skill, or simply take part in a fun and new hobby. If you’re quarantined at home and have found yourself with an abundance of free time on your hands, there’s no better time than the present than to try and dip your toes into something new, and see if it ends up being a right fit for you!

Personally, in the sudden abundance of free time that I’ve found myself essentially burdened with, I’ve decided to not only continue pushing forward with freelance commissions, but I’ve also decided to give creative writing and world-building the old college try. World-building for fictional settings and narratives has always both fascinated and inspired me, but it’s always been tough finding the right time to indulge in it. Not only that, but I’ve also always felt a little weak in my writing abilities, especially for creative fiction, but actively pursuing it now has helped me to not only overcome my doubts but also apply it to other personal projects of mine. It’s helped me to meet new people that I otherwise would’ve never met, and it’s also helped me to discover a fun, creative hobby that previously intimated me. I’ll admit that it’s still difficult to feel any degree of confidence in what I’m doing with it, but it’s a productive way for me to pass the time and it’s also helped me to feel a greater degree of commitment in other creative projects of mine, too. 

So, branching off from this, I highly encourage you to be adventurous and take that first, shaky step into a new hobby or activity, especially one that can be done freely from your home! Not only will it help you to feel actively engaged with something new but you may also find yourself with a highly rewarding hobby, also. If you’ve found yourself going stir crazy with nothing else to do at home, it’s also a great way to transform any negative energy into something positive instead and make something good out of something bad. Let alone, it may also very well be that extra boost that you need to help get you through what is hopefully the final stretch of the governor’s “stay at home” order. 

Out of Oven, Out of Mind

by Beth Royston

A lot of us have a lot more time on our hands recently, and I’ve been getting back to my baking wishlist. I’ve always loved baking and have watched The Great British Baking Show on Netflix more times than I can count, but took a bit of an unenthusiastic break while I was in a series of apartments (with the exception of a frantic stint of weekly sourdough) so small the fridge couldn’t fully open without hitting the oven. Thankfully, my partner and I moved to a bigger living space with an actual kitchen, and I had no excuses anymore, right? Apparently not. I’d forgotten that baking can take a lot of time, and I didn’t exactly want to be in the kitchen for an extra couple hours after coming home from a six-hour day at PSU and having to make dinner and do homework. It became an occasional, wistful thing. 

However, the opportunities have come up a lot more and I worked with my partner to make a list of all the things I wanted to make. Nothing too crazy, like the recipe for the galaxy mirror glaze cake I saw once (I would feel a little guilty for presenting my stuck-at-home roommates with a huge cake) but small, enjoyable things, like scones and tarts and light pies. It’s been a small part of my week that I can savor in the following days, and adds a sense of formal normalcy to meals. There’s a slice of apple tart to have afterwards, just like there was before all of this happened. I remembered how much I love baking, especially when I get to be creative with pie crust decorations or figuring out how to make something there’s no recipe for. I once developed a recipe for savory, cheese-and-herb creme puffs, and I remember it fondly. It’s a nice distraction, too. I also realized that I’ve never had a key lime pie, so that’s on the list. Hopefully my household forgives me for continually churning out desserts.

Quarantine Blessings

72220447_2652569214863055_7208176057336201216_n  by Julien-Pierre “Johnny” Campbell

 

 

Quarantine has been an unimaginably difficult time for everyone. However, I’d offer this: there have been some genuine blessings in this time, Though I’m struggling — and struggling hard — I have found a lot of beauty in this forced isolation. 

 

Quarantine blessings:

  1. Getting to spend more time with my fiancee! We are both incredibly busy people, leaving the house at 8:00 a.m. and returning at 8:00 p.m. most days. We rarely have full days off together — one every two weeks, maybe. We had the realization that until we retire, we may not get this much uninterrupted time together again. We’ve been enjoying it so much! Having deep conversations, working on improving our relationship. Explaining our passions to one another in as much detail as we’d like! I’ve talked more about Greek mythology and Romantic poetry in the last few weeks than I ever have before. I’ve learned more about baking and Animal Crossing than I ever thought I would! It’s lovely!
  2. Getting closer to my pets! As stated in previous entries, I live in a house with five cats and two dogs. Having come from a one-pet home my entire life — it’s been jarring. But I have had so much time to bond with the pets! We’ve improved their care, we’ve started taking our pit bull on more walks, we’ve invested in a new cat tree and fixed up the old one, and spent lots and lots of time cuddling with our cats. 
  3. Learning that I can build things! I struggle with motor skills. Things like buttoning shirts, tying shoes, and chopping veggies are very difficult for me. I know that with practice, I am a very capable learner — after all, I type 90 words per minute, with very few typos. I’ve often figured that if I can do something like what, I’m able to do other tasks involving fine motor skills. I’ll admit — I tend to avoid these things because it embarrasses me. I’m twenty years old! Buttoning a shirt takes me twice as long as your average person. However, my fiancee and I put together a cat tree. As simple as this was, I was so proud of myself. I read instructions and puzzled them out! I used tiny screws! It hasn’t fallen apart yet! This has been a very powerful lesson in my capability as a person. 
  4. Being there for friends in need! I have the excellent luck of being isolated with three people I love. Not all of my friends have been so fortunate. Some are quarantined with abusive family members. Some are alone. I have a large emotional bandwidth, and ample time to hear their concerns. I have been able to be more present in my friendships than I have in a long time. Being able to send little reminder texts: “I love you! Everything will be okay! I’m here for you!” has been helpful to them and me. While I know I am not responsible for the emotional states of my friends, I know I can help. I can be a listening ear, or offer advice if needed. At the very least, I can remind someone they’re not alone, and that’s a beautiful gift.

 

While the quarantine has been very difficult on all of us, I’d encourage you to look for good things within it. Finally having time to redecorate your bedroom? Deep-cleaning for the first time in ages? Baking bread? Binging shows you’ve wanted to forever? Even if all you’re doing is staying alive, that’s enough. There are small nuggets of goodness to be found in this taxing time period, and I’m lucky enough to have found some of them. 

Tips for fasting in the US While Going to College

By Wiwin Hartini

Adjust your schedule 

person writing on a book

I made a mistake on my first time fasting here by keeping my regular schedule on top of fasting. This didn’t turn out well because I didn’t get enough sleep, and I would be very sleepy during  school. So I have  adjusted my sleeping schedule to accommodate for the early breakfast at 4 a.m. Sometimes I would stay up from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. and do my classwork. Then, I’d take a nap. Making sure that you have enough sleep is critical to perform in school while fasting.

 Prep your food in the evening

selective focus photography of green and orange vegetables on black container

I  prep my breakfast in the evening, so when I get up in the morning, I don’t have to cook. This helps if you choose to go back to sleep, which I sometimes do. I get up at 4 a.m. and go back to bed an hour or two later. – I like this schedule because it allows me to engage with those who are not fasting and have a regular schedule.

Avoid flipping your day to your night

man sitting on surface

Doing work after breaking your fast until you have breakfast again is definitely doable. But from my personal experience, this can be unhealthy mentally because most activities are happening during the day. Still, if one is sleeping during the day and up at night, it can be challenging to keep in touch with people and feel energized during the day. But if this works best for you, that’s perfect.

Eat simple, nutritious food 

bowl of bread and vegetables

I learned from the past fasting experiences that I cannot eat a lot. Making sure that I’m eating the food that my body needs is  essential. I tend to focus on hydration more than food, so I  have juice, milk, tea, or water in the morning with my food. I ask myself if I have protein, carb, and vitamins in my meal. Eating enough healthy food is better than eating a lot of unhealthy snacks. 

Schedule your naps

I don’t usually take naps in the afternoon. I take an early one around 10 a.m. so I can wake up at 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. if I don’t go to bed right away after breakfast. This is helpful if you have your classes during the day.

Call your family and friends 

black and silver laptop computer on brown wooden table

I do this either during the early breakfast or during iftar (breaking the fasting). It’s helpful to keep the Ramadan spirit around you when fasting in the U.S. 

Those are a few tips that I hope will  be useful.  Happy fasting! 

Making Do

By Erika Nelson

Recently, I wrote about my experiences under lockdown in student housing. Although being alone in quarantine was weighing on my mental health, I said that crashing with family or friends in Southern Oregon was not an ideal option for me. Since that post, I tried really hard to make the best of my situation —  I went through every coping skill I could think of: working out, journaling, playing computer games, texting friends and family, virtual therapy, throwing myself into homework — but I cracked. Living alone became too much to bear—so when the opportunity to fly down to Medford arose about a week ago, I took advantage of it, and set out for the Rogue Valley by way of a very, very lonely PDX.

I thought a lot about whether I would divulge that I fled Portland — I’d made such a big deal about staying put and weathering the lockdown on my own. Surely I can just pretend to still be in the dorms? Who would know the difference? Do I want people to think I’m weak? Besides being embarrassing to admit I broke down, I had traveled when not absolutely necessary, and still feel rather of ashamed about that. But I ultimately decided to be vulnerable in these vulnerable times, and share my experience.

The truth is, it’s ok to be overwhelmed, and it’s ok to make do with the resources you have. Like making do with frozen vegetables instead of fresh ones to avoid a trip to the grocery store, we are all making do in other ways with the resources available to us — mentally, physically, socially. It’s ok to break. It’s ok to be strong one week and a sobbing mess the next — because these are uncertain, scary times. 

I’m making do with what I have, and I am filled with so much gratitude that I have support available to me. I was lucky to get that flight to Medford. I’m lucky to have a family to take me in. I’m lucky that I went through the gauntlet of air travel without bringing disease into my home (well, as far as I know. I really hope that my next post isn’t written from a family member’s hospital bedside.) 

Many students are still alone on campus, and don’t have any other option but to stay. I feel guilty leaving them behind. Part of me feels like I should be there in solidarity. Another part feels justified that I did what I had to do to take care of myself. Maybe those opposing feelings aren’t mutually exclusive. 

To those who are struggling under the weight of lockdown, whether in isolation or not, here are some resources that might help:

PSU Student Resources: https://www.pdx.edu/unst/student-resources

Multnomah County Crisis Hotline: 503-988-4888.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233