By Marlo Avidon
Experiencing quarantine in the United States is strange for a number of reasons. While some states, like my home-state of New Jersey, are only just now beginning to transition to ‘PhaseOne’ of re-opening, others have gone weeks in a state of normalcy that is as if COVID-19 had never happened.
In the midst of protests across the country – first against the lockdown, and more recently against institutionalised racism – people are waiting with bated breath to see whether things will have to close once again due to a ‘second wave’ of the virus.
Across the US, and even within my own town, people are handling quarantine differently. Personally, I have tried to stay as strict as possible to social distancing, only leaving the house for family walks or hikes, and occasionally for a socially-distanced meet-up with a friend. Other people are not nearly as cautious. Slowly but surely, you’re starting to see less people venturing outdoors in gloves and masks, and paying less attention to how close they’re standing to one another in increasingly crowded parks and stores.
Despite clear guidance, it is clear that quarantine means different things to different people. Perhaps the most challenging part of quarantine, for me, is staying connected with my friends back in the UK and seeing how they are fairing in these tumultuous times.
International news of COVID-19 has been placed in the backburner in America, as coverage focuses on the protests. Until recently, I had no idea as to what lockdown was like in the UK, and was surprised to learn that pubs will presumably be reopening at the end of the month (which gave me a surge of relief for my friends currently stuck in Durham trying to move houses).
I suppose the UK’s reopening track is on-par with that of New Jersey, one of the states hardest hit by the virus due to its proximity to New York City. Without venturing into the overtly political, I would be inclined to suggest that both the English and American governments are handling the crisis in similar ways, evoking equal responses from the public.
In these increasingly troubling times, it is reassuring to know that students across the world, both in the US, the UK, and elsewhere are handling quarantine in similar ways. From group Zoom calls where we can update one another on our ‘torturous’ months at home with parents, to late night messaging sessions ignoring the five hour time difference, the digital world has made quarantine in both the US and the UK slightly more bearable, and allowed me a brief glimpse of how the UK is responding to the crisis.
Image: Marlo Avidon