As Michigan COVID-19 cases are growing exponentially, the Hope College spring semester has been an unfortunate and surprising start for some students. As of today, many students are in quarantine and have switched to online schooling. Although it is for the well-being and health of the Hope College community, quarantining can cause students to feel very isolated, especially for students whose families are not close by.
As of January 18, 2022, there are about 350 Hope students in isolation. While this is a difficult time for both professors and students, everyone is proceeding forward with hope that this will be a means to an end. Brian Ntwali (‘24), a sophomore here at Hope, tested positive and was put in isolation at the Spring Hills Hotel. Since the Omicron variant has proved to be less severe than other variants, most students are showing minor symptoms. Ntwali admits that he was unsure if he had COVID or just a common cold.
Valeria Valencia (‘25), a freshman international student, says that when she first heard the news, she was scared. “I didn’t want to be the reason why my friends could be in quarantine,” Valencia said. Unlike many students, international and outstate students in quarantine are more isolated because they are unable to quarantine with their families. Sion Kang (‘25), a freshman international student, says, “my family was very worried because I am all by myself in a hotel. However, Hope College has been very supportive and understanding in this process.”
Valencia and Kang also mentioned that staying at a hotel is nice but can be distracting because you are on Zoom while the TV is next to you. On the other hand, Kang also said that the professors are helpful, but sometimes there are miscommunications. “Online school is hard because even when you do the homework, you still feel behind because you are not engaging in class as you would be,” Kang said.
Throughout quarantine, students say that prayer, family and friends have been their sources of strength. “I sometimes FaceTime with my friends and do homework together. This time has also allowed me to connect with family and their support helps me feel not alone,” says Valencia. Similarly, Ntwali has been making the most of his quarantine by setting time aside for prayer and calling his friends and family.
Having only left the hotel room to throw out the trash, Ntawli claims that he even misses the snow. “It’s been a lot of trying out fast foods,” Ntwali said, “but I miss home-cooked meals. I kinda miss Phelps.” Kang also says, “It was interesting to try new restaurants through DoorDash.” When asked what a typical day in the life of a quarantined student is, Valencia and Kang say that they wake up, go on Zoom or do homework while waiting to receive a video from their professor. “It is hard to wake up and go on Zoom, especially when I am sleeping in a nice hotel. It is not a study environment so that makes it hard for me to stay on task,” says Valencia. “After studying, I utilize the perks of being quarantined in a hotel by taking a hot shower and watching my favorite TV shows.”
As difficult as this season may be, Hope faculty and students have been adaptable. Both Valencias and Kang advised students who are afraid of getting COVID-9 and being quarantined that there is nothing to be worried about. “Hope College is very supportive in this process and is there when you have questions or need groceries,” says Kang. Valencia mentions that although it is scary at first, Hope has created a helpful system to help guide quarantined students along. Kang also added on that it is not an exciting start to the semester, but it’s not bad as it might seem. Moreover, there is a nice hotel without the fear of being a nuisance to your roommate or having to follow quiet hours. However, many quarantine students miss human interaction and are excited to be back on campus.
Resources for quarantined students that might feel isolated:
- Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS): CAPS is a resource that provides students with licensed counselors who can help them discuss topics that relate to mental health. These include adjustment to college life, dealing with pressures and changes, resolving a life crisis that threatens success in college, coping with problems which stem from medical or physical concerns and how to succeed in college while coping with mental health. For more information visit: https://hope.edu/offices/counseling-psychological-services/index.html
- Professors: Sometimes students can feel more connected with their professors. Hope’s small community lends itself to strong student-professor relationships. The professors are available and have office hours, and most are open to talking about anything. So, build a connection with them because they are here for students and want to see students succeed.
- Campus Ministries: Chaplains in campus ministries are people that students can confide in if they feel comfortable. They are open to talking to you about anything and here to help you work through stressful circumstances.