Photographing our quarantine

Journal contributors share five photos from their self-isolation

We challenged six contributors to document five days of self-isolation from their own perspectives.

Inspired by the Ryersonian’s recent photo essay, in which four students were each given a disposable camera and had to document their day, the Lifestyle section sought to do the same at Queen’s. Then, the spread of coronavirus shut down the University and just about everything else.

Instead, we decided to challenge six contributors to document the same five days of self-isolation from their own perspectives. Instead of a disposable camera, we asked them to download a disposable camera app. Though it may not be exactly what we were hoping for earlier in the semester, this essay reminds us that we’re all in the same boat right now, staying inside for the benefit of society.  

Hannah Larsen, contributor

I'm spending my quarantine time in Mississauga with my grandparents. Most days are the same routine: we wake up, eat, I catch up on my readings and lectures, then we have a bit of downtime to do whatever we want. Most days, my grandparents and I like to play cards and take walks to get fresh air. Overall, I'm having a pretty good time.

It was raining all day so I wanted to make some comfort food for lunch. We lit the candle because in Danish tradition, we like to create “hygge” which basically means the feeling of comfort, coziness, and happiness. We always light a candle with every meal.

We had to go to the grocery store because we needed some food, and the lack of people on the streets amazed us. It felt like a ghost town.

I figured I’d make the best out of this situation and set up a little workspace. I had a programming assignment to finish, so I sat down, put on one of my favourite Spotify playlists, grabbed some tea, and got to work.

The weather was really nice out, so my farmor (the Danish word for grandma) and I went out for a walk around their neighbourhood. Unsurprisingly, almost no one else was walking around.

Every afternoon at 4 p.m., I like to sit down with my grandparents and play a few heated rounds of cards. We like to play 500 and cribbage while eating snacks. Let's just say, I have a pretty good track record of losing to them.

Isabelle Ma, contributor

Being in isolation is an experience I’ve never had before. The silence both indoors and outdoors is unbelievable, but also beautiful in a way. Despite the coronavirus-related stress online, things felt peaceful during these five days. The beautiful weather outside definitely helped.

I spent my last day in Kingston admiring the sunshine and the choppy waters. Starbucks was mobile pickup only, but my chocolate chip frap was delicious.

I got home late the night before this shot, but was up early enough to see this lovely sunrise in my backyard.

Back to reality: schoolwork. Eating goldfish crackers is a good procrastination tool.

Finished an essay and a worksheet. Still more to go, but you don’t want to know how much more.

Endless days at home mean just as much time to practice music and get better. I’m working on a composition, if you must know what I’m playing.

Emily Elliott, contributor

So far, social distancing has been surprisingly tougher than I thought it’d be. Going from seeing my best friends every day and enjoying the nightlife in Kingston to staying at my parents’ house every single day is a huge shift. Overall, I’ve been putting the health and safety of others before my own enjoyment.

My first day was spent just hanging out with my cat, Thiago. It was nice to have a study buddy with me as I did zero schoolwork.

I spent the second day with my mom. We enjoyed a day of self-care and I was spoiled with a free pedicure at home. Isolation isn’t hard when I get to spend time with my best friend.

Ice cream cones and cats—that was pretty much all that was on the roster for my third day. That and watching Love Is Blind, of course.

Today I returned to my schoolwork. I woke up early (before noon), made coffee and an omelette, and caught up on all of those assignments I’d been neglecting.

I finally decided to get out of the house and went for a walk along my hometown’s waterfront. I watched the sunset and enjoyed the company of some beautiful swans. It was therapeutic and refreshing.

Josh Granovsky, staff writer

A small part of me started mentally preparing for quarantine decades ago. I’ve had recurring dreams since childhood about getting indefinitely trapped in log cabins, elementary schools, and, in a particularly imaginative segment, Rihanna’s mansion. Now that this semi-prophesized circumstance has arrived, I still feel wholly unprepared. The best I can do is stay connected to whatever makes me excited to get from one moment to the next: good TV, FaceTime, and overeager dance parties.

On the seventh day of my self-isolation, I make the move from Kingston to my family’s Toronto home. My housemate and I read over our quarantine diary from the past week, which contains some truly ground-breaking insights on Wii Sports tennis. I cannot bear the thought of ending Queen’s this abruptly, so I think of my dog instead.

My dog is phenomenal, and walking her brings a shred of normalcy to my day. I spend the day fighting the impulse to revert back into a whiny child now that I’m around my parents again.

Today, I toughen up and get back to my most frequent pastime: procrastinating an essay. I FaceTime some friends and forget about the chaos outside for a while. I also reach thepoint of self-isolation where I consider making banana bread.

I try working from my kitchen table with disastrous results. My youngest sister conducts an eight-way FaceTime with her friends to do homework that ends in all of them screaming TikTok jingles. I type “how to induce hibernation in humans” into Google. I later submit my essay, and ride the high of accomplishment for as long as it allows.

My sister and I unearth a fondue kit my parents received as a wedding gift and tear through the exceptional first season of HBO show Six Feet Under. I also experiment with home workouts, Netflix parties, and dog walk routes. My feelings of cabin fever are subsiding somewhat as I find more ways to stay engaged—or maybe that’s just the power of melted chocolate.

Juliana Brown, contributor

I left Kingston in a rush after classes were cancelled to be with my family, not knowing when or if I’d be able to come back. Since then, I’ve been in self-isolation and counting down the days until I can return to a somewhat normal life. Like many people at Queen’s, I feel both sad that the school year was cut short, but lucky that I have a fantastic group of friends who have been with me through all of it.  

I flew back to Utah on Mar. 16 to be at home with my family. I went on a walk for the first time and found that the usually busy streets of town were empty. There are several hiking trails near my home; this is the view from one of them.

FaceTiming my boyfriend and friends from Kingston made me feel more connected to the world and put a smile on my face. I got updates on what was happening in Kingston, including my best friend dying her hair purple. I miss all of them and wish I had had a chance to say a real goodbye to my friends, especially those graduating.

I walked my dog with medical gloves on so that I didn’t come into contact with him, since I’d travelled recently. I haven’t been able to pet or play with him since I’ve been back so I’m counting down the days until I can.

At this point, I’ve nailed down a pretty consistent exercise routine including yoga and the bikini body guide by Kayla Itsine. Samatva, the yoga studio I practice at in Kingston, has started posting online classes which are fantastic and give me a chance to disconnect from everything and relax for an hour.

Online classes have started, and with them, several hours of troubleshooting and debugging. I had to exchange endless emails with TAs, but in the end, I got two assignments done. Adapting to online learning will be a challenge, but it feels doable.

Alysha Mohamed, contributor

My social distancing experience has consisted of drinking chai, writing poetry, watching old movies, and figuring out how to work from home. Staying indoors and away from people is really difficult as an extrovert, and coupled with the panic around the virus, I’ve found myself retreating into a state of anxiety. However, I’ve realized this is one of the only times I can really focus on my mental wellbeing without any distractions from the external world. Here are small moments in my quarantine experience where I felt at peace.

I made pizza with my cousins and aunt. I felt like a master chef, and eating homecooked food always makes me feel more like myself, even if I can’t be with my immediate family yet.

I tried (and failed) to paint my nails. We only have three colours of nail polish in the house, but I’m determined to go through the colours until my hands don’t look like they’ve been finger painted by a five-year-old.

Today, I played with makeup while watching Jackie Aina beauty tutorials on YouTube. Since I couldn’t go out for Navroz (Persian New Year), I thought I’d celebrate and reflect on the year with some self-care. I’m still trying to figure out how to come out of quarantine looking like a baddie.

I spent my morning looking at small apartment inspiration in New York on Pinterest, daydreaming of living in the city as a young writer. This surprisingly sparked inspiration and turned into a poem.

After submitting two of my final papers, I spent a few hours on the couch with my cousins. We looked through old pictures, binge-watched This is Us, and I forgot about the circumstances for a while.

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