Looking Six Months Back
This article is part of a series of articles that were written last school year but were never published due to the pandemic. The Norse Code has decided to publish these articles to give insight into how people were feeling at that time.
Being stuck in quarantine has been difficult for a lot of people and being isolated for so long can make a person feel alone. Furthermore, for better or for worse this virus impacts people all around the country and the world. Social media has helped connect people across the globe and share their stories. The Norse Code has connections around the US and across the globe and we wanted to share and highlight their stories.
With so many people around the world with various cultures, the responses to quarantine have differed.
Lillian Peterson from Seattle, Washington said, “In Seattle, it is now required to wear a mask to all stores and a stay at home order has been in place. The public gathering is also prohibited here.” Across the many countries, it seems like masks are a nearly universal requirement.
Yintong “Rita” Wang from Luohe, China said, “Everyone is required to take temperature before leaving the community or entering any buildings; restaurants and shopping centers are required to close except some shops that are selling daily products [essential items]; delivery services were stopped; etc.”
Elazja from Poland said, “You have to cover your mouth when you are outside, there has to be 2 meters of space between you and other people everywhere, no crowds, no meetings of three or more people, there also was you can go outside only with adult or if you are over 18, but now the rule is that you can go outside alone if you’re over 13.”
In other places the rules are not only extensive but the punishment for breaking them is severe. Mohamed Sabour from Cairo, Egypt said, “You must wear a mask in public places and [public] transportation or you will pay a fine or go to prison, and we have curfew every day for 11 hrs.”
As some governments increase protections and rules, others are relaxing and or not enforcing pre-existing protections and rules. Manal Hasan from Karachi, Pakistan said, “Recently our provincial government eased the lockdown to facilitate the people but due to citizens’ lack of seriousness the chief minister of Sindh (my province) had compelled the provincial government to reconsider imposing all the restrictions again.”
Some cities and states/provinces are moving at different rates in terms of increasing and decreasing protections. Tessa “Tess” Ramos from Giddings, Texas said, “My town has stores operating at half capacity and no other restrictions, however, we are a very small town with zero cases. The rest of the state is a little bit more panicked.”
Lots of countries have been increasing restrictions slowly. Juna Mennicke from Berlin, Germany said, “At first they enacted the rule to keep the 6 feet distance to anybody that wasn’t living in the same household as you at all times. Some other rules followed after that- for instance at first you weren’t able to be in groups of more than 10 people and then at one point not more than 5. Germany also closed most public places and the public places that were open could only be visited with a person’s family or else they would risk being fined.”
As countries change laws to adapt to these turbulent times so do people’s lives. All over the world, people are having to change routines that they may have had for years to follow these new rules.
“Quarantine in my country includes a lot of closed businesses, and drive-thru only restaurants. A lot of misinformation is being spread regarding the matter, and a lot of ppl seem to be impatient and unwilling to stay indoors, some have even protested the lockdown orders and have even gone as far as to block roads to hospitals, making it difficult for hospital staff to get to the hospital,” says Bridgett Stafford, who lives in Ellijay, Georgia.
Marina “Nina” Rangel from Guarulhos, Brazil said, “For me and my family have been tough because we don’t leave the house for anything. However I feel that most people don’t care about quarantine. People don’t wear face masks when they are out of their houses, and people are hanging out like we’re not leaving a pandemic. Besides that, Brazil’s president made and keeps making stupid decisions about ways to fight COVID-19 and the cases are increasing more and more each day.”
For a lot of kids, quarantine has meant dealing with online school. Mennicke said, “Life is very restricted in quarantine. You can pretty much not have any social contact other than with your family or one other person if really necessary. Most of the people had to work from home and children had to do online school. I think a lot of the parents were really overwhelmed with having to work from home and at the same time be there for their younger kids and help them with all the school work. I feel like a lot of people here really struggled with this quarantine because usually you can be very active in Berlin and there is always a lot to do but now you can’t even leave your own home. It was also very hard for people not to see their grandparents and family.”
For many teens and young adults around the world, being stuck at home means online school and social media. Sofia Bucci from Viareggio, Italy said, “My days are consist mostly of online school in the morning from 8-12 or depending on the day and then from 3 pm me and two of my friends do our homework (that by the way has increased sooooo much since quarantine) and spend time together even if we’re apart; and for the rest I watch a lottttt of Netflix.”
Peterson said, “Life during quarantine in Seattle is pretty boring. We still have school everyday and I have to study for my upcoming AP tests. It’s really hard not to see my friends everyday but I use Netflix party and FaceTime to make up for it.”
Due to everyone being quarantined at home, a lot of families are spending more time together and making memories. For some it’s the little things such as Elazja dying her hair pink or Wang appreciating her family and doctors’ role in society.
In some households, there has been an increase in game nights. Rosie Boswell from Olathe, Kansas said, “my favorite memory is when my family tried to play monopoly the first week. After four nights we gave up on the game.”
Other people are making long journeys back to their families. Hasan said, “I have two favorite quarantine memories; watching movies with my host mother and traveling through 3 different airports with my friends in a 3-day long journey back to Pakistan.”
Phone and video calls have brought lots of people closer as well! Stafford said, “My favorite memory from quarantine is the late-night talks I’ve had with friends on the phone, and the 2 am snack runs I have while discussing things such as Love or the Palace of Versailles.”
Some people are sharing gifts as a way to stay connected. On the topic of her favorite memory Rangel said, “A project I created to make people feel loved and happy by sending Brazilian carrot cake with a small message. ”
Bucci said, “I wouldn’t know but I think all of the laughs that I’ve shared with my friends on FaceTime and during Easter break me and my friend went out on our terraces and sunbathed together through FaceTime.”
Now because of the varying degrees of restrictions being put into place various people have differing opinions on the responses of their country’s response to COVID-19.
Peterson said, “I think the country’s [The US] response to COVID-19 is completely appropriate. Personally I am privileged enough that I can stay home and have enough to eat and things to do. It is completely ridiculous to me that people are protesting something that protects other people’s lives. Being so privileged to demand a hair cut over the lives of others is shocking. The response from this country should be to make sacrifices to protect others, and the laws put in place reflect that.”
Some Countries are moving the COVID-19 response to a state or provincial level. Ramos said, “I appreciate that the US has left it up to the states, and Texas to the local government. Different communities require different responses, and panicking and locking people up for trying to open their businesses does nothing. People need to be able to work and live their lives, it’s not selfish to feed your family.”
Quin Marine who lives near Saint Quentin, France said, “I approve of it to a certain extent. No matter if we are for or against the actual government [France], we must admit they have handled the crisis pretty well compared to some of our neighbour countries. They have dealt with it pretty well but pretty late. Even though they were able to settle [create] a different section in the hospitals for the COVID-19 patients, too many people were already infected with the virus. The hospitals were overcrowded, people should be moved to other places. One more time, the reason being the late set up of their action in order to preserve the economy. The first round of municipal elections were maintained. That’s another measure this time with political advantage which has constituted an enormous risk for the populations.”
Once official quarantines have ended and or are relaxing across the world people are reacting in different ways. Hasan said, “I am against relaxing the lockdown because some people here still don’t take covid-19 seriously, thus not following precautions and once the lockdown was eased they all went out to do shopping for Eid ul fitr (a widely celebrated Islamic festival).”
Mennicke said, “I do approve of my country’s [Germany’s] response to COVID-19 for the most part. I think all the restrictions were legitimate and necessary but I personally feel like they are clearing up the situation too fast now because other than that some of the schools are still doing online classes, the rest pretty much went back to normal. I can already tell after just a couple of days of loosening most of the restrictions that people just think it is all back to normal again and start to not even care about keeping the distance, nor wearing masks etc.”
Stafford said, “No, I do not approve of my country’s [The US’] response to Covid-19, my state [Georgia] itself is becoming a lot more relaxed, w/o taking simple measures like requiring masks, and politicians who have no medical background are spreading misinformation regarding the matter. I feel this way because it is endangering the lives of everyone.”
Rangel said, “No, not at all. Brazil should be in a lockdown, because people don’t respect the “stay at home” advice. The president is 100% irresponsible and is making stupid decisions about the pandemic. ”
Quarantine is coming to an end in a lot of places and life as we know it will be changing. As new habits are created and others are lost there will always be memories of the resilience of people in these uncertain times. Wang talked about how she feels people will want to become more healthy and clean.
There will also be a greater bond between friends. Bucci said, “The times I wash my hands during the day will increase and I will definitely appreciate more of the hugs I share with my friends.”
Boswell said, “I won’t take hanging out with friends or getting a haircut for granted.”
A big change that will happen probably is an increased emphasis on hygiene. Marine said, “First, I don’t think life’s going to be back to normal soon. And to be honest, I’m not sure it’s ever going to be like before. To my mind this crisis is going to change a lot in people’s mind but also in the government’s [France]. There will definitely be a “before” and an “after” COVID-19. People are probably going to change their behavior, pay more attention to health care, and to hygiene.”
However, as much as we may guess the future the truth is we don’t know what’s going to happen. Ramos said, “While my life likely won’t change on a personal scale, I think it will be interesting to see the long term cultural effects of quarantine and the pandemic.”
For many this quarantine has uprooted their lives with parents losing jobs, being front line workers, difficulties putting food on the table and more. However, no matter what the situation is people have a tendency to rise up above their challenges and help lift up others as well. Although teenagers often don’t have to bear those challenges teens’ lives have become hard as well. With a sudden switch to online school and new systems, students are being overwhelmed, lack of contact with friends is hurting the mental health of many, some teens can’t feel safe in their own homes, and many have lost family members due to COVID-19.
People have recognized the circumstances that we are in are dire and have stepped up in their communities. There are a lot of people taking this bad situation and using it to help others through various means. Although, people across the US and around the world are physically apart, social media and other technology is helping us become more connected than we have ever been. The opinions shared in this article are not a reflection of the opinions of The Norse Code and the School District of New Berlin.