Students around the country have moved to online learning due to COVID-19, meaning their seat in the “classroom” may now be at a kitchen table, in the corner of a bedroom or cross-legged on the living room couch. Some are home alone, while others are sharing space with siblings, parents and grandparents — or children of their own. For an exercise on descriptive writing, students in instructor Susie Armitage’s Hunter Reporting and Writing I class wrote up these dispatches from their current study environments.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I lived in the dorms, but now I am back at home in my turquoise-walled bedroom. Makeup, a broken clock, and three different types of hair oil take up most of the space on my cluttered desk. I have a warm cup of tea next to me and every few hours my mother brings me a snack.
Although the door is closed, I can still hear my parents talking and my grandmother’s television at full volume. The warm smell of spices and onions tells me that dinner is being made. Every few minutes someone calls my name to help them with the cooking or help my grandmother. I no longer need an episode of “The Office” or music playing in the background as I do work now; the sounds of my family fill the space.
— Yusra Ashraf
My room has been cleaned too many times out of boredom in the past week. Bookshelves organized and re-organized. Clothes folded and re-folded. Surfaces wiped and re-wiped.— Greta Belegu
Light peeks through my blinds as my cat perches on the windowsill. I feel the heat and hear the faint screeching of my radiator. I hear my brother playing loud video games in the other room. I smell laundry detergent lingering on my sheets and pillows and I hear bare streets with only the sound of cars driving by every few minutes. My room has been cleaned too many times out of boredom in the past week. Bookshelves organized and re-organized. Clothes folded and re-folded. Surfaces wiped and re-wiped.
— Greta Belegu
I am staying in Nassau County on Long Island. From the window of my upstairs room, I can peer out and see a few houses with white fences and low-cut grass. A black cat crosses the rain-filled dead end, and cars sit quietly in parking spots. It feels quite eerie as I know that people are home, but at the same time, it feels as if no one is here.
It’s uncharacteristically quiet, even in my own home. My mother, who I live with, is currently at work as her job as an environmental scientist is considered essential. I find it comforting to have someone to share this crisis with and feel as if being alone in a time like this must be as scary as the thought of contracting the virus itself.
— JadeAnn Rowe
The apartment is filled with clicks of stovetops turning on, pans clanking, and footsteps shuffling in and out of the kitchen right next to my bedroom. The aroma of eggs and noodles drifts through the air.— Amy Chen
The apartment is filled with clicks of stovetops turning on, pans clanking, and footsteps shuffling in and out of the kitchen right next to my bedroom. The aroma of eggs and noodles drifts through the air. My cousin’s voice lingers as he talks on his phone in the living room.
My other roommate is working out in her room. Faint sounds of thumping and pieces of equipment hitting the floor echo through my bedroom walls. I’m in bed all cozy and warm while the sound of heavy rain hits my window. I can hear my dog wandering eagerly around the apartment. It feels nice to have our own spaces and solitude to do our own activities.
— Amy Chen
My kitchen smells like turkey bacon, chocolate chip pancakes, fluffy scrambled eggs, and sticky maple syrup. There are six empty seats at the white wooden kitchen table, but my younger sister, who is in high school, has decided to sit right next to me.
When she does her homework she has to play music in her AirPods as loud as she can, so I can hear the mini concert she is having in her head right now. My mom is cleaning up the hot oily pans from the breakfast she made us this morning. I hear the pan sizzle when the water lands on it and the switch of the faucet head. In the background I hear the low hum of the water swirling in the dishwasher and the chomping noise of a monster inside the laundry machine.
— Morgan Gress
The outside streets are hushed; only the gusts of wind outside and water droplets falling on the window pane are audible. Although the streets are deserted and isolated, lacking cars, I see a couple of people outside, walking their dogs down the street in the rain, holding umbrellas. While typing I can smell the juicy chicken flavor and spices from the soup my sister made wafting through the air. The sound of my dog barking endlessly bounces off the walls and echoes through the rooms.
— Amber Arroyo
I’m in the Brookdale dorms, waiting until at least Wednesday or Thursday to go home to my family to be sure I don’t show any symptoms. I’m in my tiny, dusty psychiatric cell all day long by myself trying to keep busy. I read, play video games and stream some television.
Most of my friends are at home. It’s pretty empty inside the building, but the park nearby is always filled with children and people running. I try to only go out for personal walks during the evening since that’s when everyone is back indoors if they were outside. It’s not too bad. I hope we can all go back to normalcy soon!
— John Laudani
It used to be laughs and giggles. Now, all I can hear is the heater steaming and the loud television of constant COVID-19 reports in the living room.—Sima Sadykhov
I’m currently staying at my parents’ apartment in Brooklyn. My 25-year-old brother moved out before the quarantine. We shared a room so it’s nice to have my own space, but I miss him very much. It used to be laughs and giggles. Now, all I can hear is the heater steaming and the loud television of constant COVID-19 reports in the living room.
My parents are keeping themselves busy by cooking their amazing Russian and Azerbaijani dishes. We all enjoy playing Russian card games together.
I’m at home with my mom and younger brother. Like a lot of families in Park Slope, we are lucky to live in a single-family house with a connecting backyard. I go outside when the weather is nice to read my book, swinging on my hammock which always seems to be damp, even if it hasn’t rained in days.
I can no longer hear the sounds of children out my window, or teenagers bouncing a basketball on their walk to the court. A hum of silence has taken over, leaving only the wind, birds, and today, rain. The quiet has been nice; it allows me to get closer to nature. I take long walks through Prospect Park and Greenwood Cemetery. But I miss being able to see my friends or go to the supermarket without any fears. I miss the kids playing in the playground and the adults having picnics. I miss what used to be.
— Tamsin Vidal
We can hear the creek by our house flowing through the kitchen window. We spend most days eating our abundance of home-grown oranges in the kitchen with a book.— Emma Weaver
I am back home at my mother’s house in Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Salt Spring Island is both a remote island and a rainforest. My mother’s house is very isolated and surrounded by uninhabited land. Every morning I hear the chickens and roosters on the farm next door and a flock of birds travels through the trees.
The windows and doors are always open, allowing a breeze to settle in the house at all times and the sun to bathe all surfaces. We can hear the creek by our house flowing through the kitchen window. We spend most days eating our abundance of home-grown oranges in the kitchen with a book.
— Emma Weaver
The sound of the news playing in the background can also be heard at any hour of the day. My school books are scattered all over the dining room table, making it hard to see the sunflower pattern on the tablecloth.— Allegra Acevedo
I am staying at my house in Yonkers, New York. Normally, it would be quiet and empty during the day, but my brother and my mom have both been working from home so it’s been somewhat noisy with everyone either on video calls or phone meetings. The sound of the news playing in the background can also be heard at any hour of the day. My school books are scattered all over the dining room table, making it hard to see the sunflower pattern on the tablecloth.
Yesterday, most people in my neighborhood took walks along the bike trail. In March, typically only a few people go out on the trail, but yesterday I ran into about a dozen different people taking advantage of the nice weather.
— Allegra Acevedo
There is no rush and I patiently sit at home. There is no morning gallop to the train, no war for the seat on the subway, no question where I should eat lunch. Time has truly become mine.— Judy Joseph
My grandfather is struggling to open a jar while eating his lunch. My grandmother swings through the kitchen, gracefully gliding from side to side. I look out the window and see the waves storming restlessly. The water, usually glowing blue, is solemnly gray and brimming with power. Much like the world today, it is chaotic and grim.
As spring approaches, I worry my legs will feel neglected and tremble like a fawn’s after so much time inside. Will I forget the outside scenery? My mind paces back and forth. A week, a month, two months, until fall?
Nevertheless, I am calm. There is no rush and I patiently sit at home. There is no morning gallop to the train, no war for the seat on the subway, no question where I should eat lunch. Time has truly become mine.
— Judy Joseph
I am sitting at my black IKEA desk. To my left, I have a view of the intersection of Ascan Ave. and Loubet St. The sound of the TV my parents are watching on the floor below me is very faint, but I can still hear it. The smell of burnt coffee fills my room as it has already gone cold by this point in the day. I have to wear sweatpants and a long sleeve shirt because of the draft in my room. The blinds are down, leaving my room fairly dark.
It is strange to take a class online and I can feel myself getting antsy. Nowadays, I spend most of my waking hours in this room. Although the sun still rises and sets, I remain here in relative darkness as life still goes on just out my window.
— Patrick Nitti
The house creaks when you walk up the stairs and I can hear the rain tap-dancing across the windows. The oak wood shudders as the wind screams against it. A deep voice projects from the television set. I can’t distinguish if it’s Cuomo or Trump, but it’s safe to say that I can now properly imitate a politician. Maybe now I can get a job on “Saturday Night Live.”
— Joshebel Ramlakhan
My cozy two-bedroom apartment is tucked away in the gritty, industrial section of Brooklyn called East New York. It’s a bright, sunny space nestled inside an enormous concrete maze of tall domino-like buildings.
Each morning begins with subtle rejoicing from chirping birds outside my window. They make it easier to start another reclusive day. The indefinite downtime has turned my master bedroom into a coven of canvases and beauty products with full daily schedules of artistic self-care. Working and schooling from home is an integral part of this new confinement routine: my queen-size bed doubles as a conference and drafting table for everything from craft projects to nail painting.
Each morning begins with subtle rejoicing from chirping birds outside my window. They make it easier to start another reclusive day.— J. Kinna LeBlanc
Like the draped and leafy plants adorning my kitchen, Rocky, my five-pound golden chihuahua, seems happier to have me around each hour of the day. But it has been 12 days.
— J. Kinna LeBlanc