Lockdown in Student Housing

By Erika Nelson

In March, Housing and Residence life sent out a mass email encouraging those of us in student housing to move if feasible. By doing so, we’d be lowering the amount of interpersonal contact in the buildings, and therefore lowering the chance that COVID-19 could spread among us.  The result was a mass exodus of student residents. For the last few weeks of winter term and throughout spring break, students hauled boxes and furniture out of their apartments. Many people abandoned their belongings altogether — and common areas quickly became littered with discarded microwaves, bedding, and half-used bottles of hot sauce. At first, the refuse left behind was annoying. But then the custodial staff removed it all, taking along with them any items that residents used to socialize and bond, such as the puzzles left out on tables for everyone to work on. This served only as a stark reminder of the tenants’ absences.

There are some perks that come from living in an almost-empty building — solo elevator rides save time, and I have yet to have to wait for access to a washing machine. The sheer emptiness of the building is palpable — instead of hearing music and muffled conversations when walking down the halls, there is a conspicuous silence. Common areas are empty. There are no more University Success events in the lobby. Even though those of us who remain are still in our rooms, typing on our laptops and having Zoom classes, it’s hard to ignore that the absence of so many residents is a symptom of the larger changes in the world.

I don’t have family close by. I wasn’t lucky enough (or unfortunate enough, depending on how well you get along with your family) to be able to crash somewhere else while still remaining in Portland’s orbit. Sure, I could pay to rent a car and haul all my stuff back to Southern Oregon, and there’s no doubt that I miss my friends and family … but Portland is my home now. I’ve set up roots, and I’d rather try and stick out the pandemic locally rather than going through the added stress and expense of moving back and forth. 

There are times when I regret that decision. Being cooped up is weighing on me emotionally. I miss my loved ones. I miss socializing. I miss human touch. So many of the things that made me fall in love with the city, like restaurants and the county library, are closed for the foreseeable future. The truth is, no one knows how long this lockdown will last, and if things will ever go back to normal. Public officials are cautious about ending the stay-at-home order too soon. Not knowing a timeline and being able to count down days is disheartening. However, I have hope that we will all get through this and be stronger because of it. Even though the building is lonely, I know I’m not alone in feeling alone.

A day Trip to the Emerald City

Exploring the Emerald City

For those of us who live in the city without a car, we sometimes forget how easy it is to get out of the city for a weekend. Whether you take a bus or hitch a ride with a friend, it is really easy to just get away, and I know sometimes I forget that and stay cooped up in my dorm.

This past weekend I went to Seattle with an old friend for a concert; I hadn’t been to Seattle since I was two and planned on making the most of it. Before the concert, we went and explored a few of the touristy spots of Seattle. I got to watch the fish throwers at Pike Place Market, I bought some fresh plums from a fruit stand, saw the ever famous Gum Wall on Post Alley and walked around the outside of the Space Needle (there was no way I was paying 20 dollars to ride an elevator up to the top), and then went to the concert. Even if I was only away from campus for a day or two, it was still a nice change of scenery.

Cupcake Fiasco

Cupcake Fiasco

Isn’t that cupcake beautiful? It only took two trips to the store and three different people’s kitchenware to produce. When making a box cake mix takes this much effort, it’s extremely obvious that this is my first month having a kitchen.

It’s my first time living away from home, and my kitchen is not that of a chef’s. Even though I have had some difficulties, I have found that if you just ask a friend or a neighbor if they have cooking spray or a bowl big enough to mix in, generally someone will have something they can loan to you for the night.

Don’t be afraid to ask others for help, because otherwise you will have some difficulty making that new pasta recipe if you don’t even have a pot to boil water in.