College Life in The Pandemic's New Normal: Life on a Deserted Campus

May 19, 2020

Ohio college students just finished their spring semester which was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. In early March, schools stopped in-person classes and switched to remote learning, upending campus life.

A Kent State University journalism class spent the week after spring break recording diaries about their experience. Garrett Naylon stayed in Kent and reflected on what it's like to live on a deserted campus. 

A ghost town
Kent is a ghost town during the first few days of “Coronageddon.” It didn’t really seem real at first, and then seeing the atmosphere of how everyone was acting because of the virus really made it real. Today, I was thinking about how to make my apartment a little homier since I’m going to be stuck in these four walls for another month.

Starting online classes was strange, especially seeing the people that I normally talk to every day on a screen across my small room. I am worried about my GPA this semester; every day I wake up to a ton of emails, which is kind of overwhelming because of how much information is constantly being thrown at me all at once. I feel like I’m starting to slip and forget the things that I’m supposed to be doing.

It’s also not clear when things are going to be due, and I’ve already missed a major assignment.

In my dance class, the first thing you learn when you walk in is that “dance is social.” It’s kind of funny because you turn on a camera, and you’re not actually there.

"I feel like I'm starting to slip and forget the things that I'm supposed to be doing."

4 a.m. is the new normal
Since there's nothing else to do, I talked on FaceTime for hours, and it went until almost 4:00 a.m. I’ve become nocturnal; 4:00 a.m. is completely normal for me now. I wake up and all of a sudden the sun is gone.

Am I proud of it?

Well, no.

I’m keeping busy with my acapella group, which just recorded its first album. I’m in charge of all the preparations for its release, like finding someone to make album art and listening to rough mixes. It keeps me busy, but I do miss people.

I talked to an old friend from high school for the first time in almost three years. They asked if I was coming back to Lakewood, and I said, “No, I haven’t set foot there in almost five months.” They mentioned that this is the longest time they’ve been home since high school, while I said it’s the longest I’ve been away from home since high school.

Turning 21 in quarantine
I’ve seen a lot of “happy birthday” posts on Instagram, and I was thinking about how this is supposed to be my golden birthday. It's early April, and I’ll be turning 21 on the 21st. But that's ruined. It's been a cruel year to wait until you're 21 to go to bars just for the world to give you a middle finger and say, “Try again later.”

I do think this whole isolation or quarantine thing could be good. A lot of my friends are extroverted and hate this, but I’m introverted by nature and I’d be doing this anyway. You could use this time to work on yourself. When else are you going to get the chance to do that? Everyone is so busy all the time, it can be easy to push things down for a long time.

Being alone with your thoughts can be good.