By Liya Davidov
Packing up the last of their dorm room’s decorations, driving an hour home and moving back in with their parents is not on every college students’ to-do list, especially in the middle of a semester.
But when the COVID-19 pandemic caused the College to close its campus and move classes online, students discovered these challenges along with many more. On top of normal studious habits, many are now adjusting to life in close quarters with their families.
“This ‘family bonding’ gets very overwhelming considering I’m not used to being home for this long as well as wanting and needing my own space as I’ve been used to,” said Laura Suarez, a junior health and exercise science major.
With Suarez’s mom still working as a nursing assistant at an assisted living home, Suarez has had to adjust to living with her dad and her 25-year-old brother in their South Bound Brook, New Jersey, home. Suarez’s dad is an electrician and her brother coaches tennis at an academy, but both of them are unable to work due to the pandemic.
“Everyone is typically in their own space during this time,” Suarez said. “That being said, my brother and I bicker way more often.”
For Gabriel Calandri, moving back in with his family was an unexpected surprise. Since January, he had been studying abroad in Italy and hadn’t seen his family in months. But as the pandemic spread throughout Europe, Calandri, like many other students at the College who were studying abroad, returned home in order to stay safe.
“I’m happy to be back with my family,” the sophomore economics and finance double major said. “After a month (to a) month and a half, I was kind of homesick and it was about that time that we were forced to come home, so it kind of worked out, timing-wise.”
Living with his parents and two brothers, he’s taking time to look at the positives in his transition back home. With his older brother in medical school and his younger brother going to Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in the fall, Calandri recognizes the opportunity as the last one for their entire family to be together.
“Family bonding we have taken for granted,” Calandri said. “We are never going to have this chance again. Now it’s about that quality time. ”
To make the most out of the opportunity, Calandri and his family occasionally eat dinner and watch movies together. In order to spend time outside, Calandri often goes on runs with his brothers biking alongside him.
Calandri is not the only student who is benefitting from self-isolation. Katrine Luddy, a sophomore health and exercise science major, said she and her family are also taking advantage of the situation.
“We are always doing things together like playing with our dogs outside, watching movies and always eating together,” Luddy said. “We’re also trying to learn new things like crafting or cooking, so I feel like we’ve all gotten super close in this last month and a half.”
Luddy added that she’s grateful she can spend quality time with her family and recognizes the benefits self-isolation can bring.
“I know some people can’t wait to get out of their houses and go back to school to see their friends, but I personally enjoy being at home with my family all the time,” she said. “I know that we probably will never experience something like (self-isolation) again, so I am enjoying my time with them before we all go back to our hectic lives.”