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Connecticut College COVID-19 Archive

Documenting the Camel Experience

Ali Plucinski '20, Government major

http://learcenter.digital.conncoll.edu/covid19/photos/AleksandraPlucinski.jpg

Title

Ali Plucinski '20, Government major

Description

I have been impressed by the willingness of professors to go out of their way to make the situation as reasonable for students as possible.

Date

April 10, 2020

Location

Cape Cod, Massachusetts, United States

Text

Did you change your spring break plans because of the virus? From what to what?
I had opted out of going on a spring break trip to Florida with my friends to instead work the first week of break on campus in the Admission Office. I had planned to undergo hip surgery the second week of spring break which was cancelled as a result of the virus.

How did you feel when you were informed the remainder of the semester would be held online?
As a student who was working in the Admission office during break, during the week of the decision, it was profoundly affecting. As I worked in the office each day and watched more and more of the admission counselors skirt around myself and the other student worker, the reality of the situation began to process at the subconscious level. Although my rational self was ready to believe that there would never be a situation in which students are sent home for the rest of the semester, the body language and demeanor of the people around me exhibited the truth. Although the natural first reaction was shock and disbelief, it quickly gave way to, in my case, implacable anger. Within a few hours of having read President Bergeron's email, I couldn't feel anything but a gnawing bitterness that perhaps the best six weeks of my life had been unceremoniously cancelled for an extended existence of isolation and loneliness. Once the anger subsided, the only emotion left was numb apathy.

Where are you living for the rest of the semester? How did you feel about leaving campus? Or what's it like remaining on campus?
For the rest of the semester, I will be living in my home on Cape Cod where I am from. The process of leaving campus was jarring and surreal. Again, as a senior, there had been a blueprint for how the move out process would go. It would occur only after the fulfilling celebration of four years of college and the commencement ceremony to tie the experience off with a bow. To be told that I should remove all my belongings from my room four days after receiving the initial news was akin to being pulled out a deep, peaceful slumber. Moreover, the experience of moving out with some friends but being aware that I would not see many others for an unmarked period of time only added to an overall emotional state of bitter resentment and a sense of pessimism for the future.

What has been your experience with moving classes online? What's good? What's not so good?
I have been impressed by the willingness of professors to go out of their way to make the situation as reasonable for students as possible. All of my professors have reduced our workload significantly and have been more extraordinarily understanding of the fact that technological communication is not always reliable. Individually, online classes have been difficult to be enthusiastic and attentive for. They seem to me a weak attempt at replacing what has been lost. Although I admire professors for their tenacity in administering the virtual courses, as a student I have felt little compulsion to remain focused for the class and participate to the level that I would in person.

How has the virus (and the precautions taken to prevent it spreading) impacted your daily life?
I, unfortunately, am a natural extrovert who typically departs from their room at around 8am in the morning and does not return to it again until approximately midnight. My college experience has consisted of a constant and steady interaction with people. I have found that I am most happy when I feel busy and involved. Naturally, the transition has affected myself and people like me perhaps more than those who function easily in solitude. The inability to visit friends or have human contact aside from virtual communication has impacted my emotional and mental wellbeing negatively to the extreme. My daily life consists of a routine of restless, nervous energy that has no outlet and a sense of anger and hopelessness as there seems to be no prediction of when the situation might abate.

How worried are you about getting the virus?
I have no worries of contracting the virus myself. Although I know that the youth can suffer just as much as older people, I am more worried about being a potential carrier than any kind of fear of the disease itself. Being young and strong and athletic lends itself to a belief that I am immune from such viral diseases. Regardless of whether that belief is accurate or not, it does mean that I don't hold any particular fear of my own wellbeing- only those around me.

Do you know anyone who has gotten COVID-19?
Yes

Are you staying in? What are you doing to pass the time?
I am doing my best to stay in but it is difficult for me to alter my patterns of living to coincide with the demands of quarantine. I typically eat much more produce than shelved foods, thus my trips to the grocery store are typically much more frequent given that I buy smaller portions of food. Although I have made efforts to transition to a diet that incorporates more long lasting food, it's unnatural for me. To pass the time, I'm trying to take advantage of the coming spring and garden. My time for the most part though is subsumed with trying to figure out my future.

Are you going out? Where do you go and what is it like?
My only outing trips have been to Dunkin Donuts and the grocery store. In all honesty, it doesn't seem as though the Cape has quieted much in response to the virus. The peninsula is certainly known for having a personality to it as far as native Cape Codders go. I'm not sure how many people around here actually give a damn about the current state of affairs.

What is giving you hope and/or strength right now?
In all honesty, my current mental space does not lend itself to optimism. I'm thankful for FaceTime and the ability to have a semblance of face to face communication. But the prospects of graduating into a recession with complete uncertainty about my future does not open a window for hope or strength.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about what you're feeling or experiencing right now?
I guess I just feel the need to express my profound sadness at having my life so unceremoniously and permanently altered. Although I readily acknowledge that many, many others are in much worse circumstances and that there's a degree of pretentiousness to complaining about a senior spring being cancelled, it seems to be a grief that is difficult to empathize with. It is difficult to articulate the anguish of knowing that there are some people I will never see again. Sometimes, it still feels like a dream that I will wake up from. Most nights, I do have dreams about memories from the college and regardless of the cliche inherent in such a statement, it seems obvious that this event will affect my life much longer than the few months it will directly impact.

Citation

, “Ali Plucinski '20, Government major,” Connecticut College COVID-19 Archive, accessed August 10, 2022, http://learcenter.digital.conncoll.edu/covid19/items/show/469.

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