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Surviving quarantine with a trip to North Pole

Stories and Updates

Another week into quarantine and I am running out of things to do. I have genuinely been struggling with not only school but also with the lack of social interaction. Staying motivated for classes is pretty difficult because there are always so many distractions. I have been kept fairly busy with school, but have fallen behind due to a lack of motivation. I have been able to get out of the house a few times to go on drives though. I have also started to cook more, but sometimes it is difficult to do anything.

Classes have really been the only thing keeping me busy. Since I am staying with relatives, I can’t clean or rearrange my room because there is nothing to clean and there is not much in it to rearrange. I have done some decorating, though, and am really happy with how everything is looking now.

I have my own space where I can go to relax when I need to, and trust me, I have needed that lately. School has been fairly difficult and I feel like I have more free time than ever, yet none at all. I have fallen a bit behind as there are a lot of distractions that I am struggling to ignore, but it can be harder to ignore messages from people you miss but can’t see.

The biggest issue that I have been struggling with is the social isolation. I have not seen anyone except for family for a time exceeding ten minutes in the past two weeks. Feeling isolated and alone is really starting to get to me, even though I have been video chatting with my friends and loved ones. I am an extroverted person and my energy and happiness are fed by being able to interact with close proximity to others. This is a new and difficult experience for me, as I am sure it is for a lot of people.

One thing that helps lift my spirits is remembering that I am still in Alaska. Not only am I lucky enough to have been able to stay in the state of my exchange, but I was able to stay in the same city as my host campus. Unfortunately, it has not really been nice enough to go out and do anything. The weather has been snowy and cold which prevents walks and other simple outdoor activities. I have been able to go on a few drives with my relatives, like last Sunday, I went to the dump with them. Riveting, I know. The things you will do to get out of the house.

Our trip included a stop in the city of North Pole! North Pole, Alaska is about thirty minutes east of Fairbanks and is decorated for Christmas all year. The light poles were painted with red and white swirled stripes to look like candy canes, and the McDonalds sign was even decorated! We stopped by the Santa Claus House where you can buy all things Christmas any time of year. Of course, I posed for pics with the giant Santa statue.

I mentioned earlier how my struggle for motivation with school has transformed into motivation for cooking. Interestingly, I am no cook. I rarely ever cook. I do not know much about cooking. However, I have been cooking a lot more because I have to feed myself something other than cereal and oatmeal every day.

Developing this new skill, I hope to transfer some motivation back to my schoolwork. As I continue to go forward in all of this, not being able to see my closest friends and family is definitely going to be difficult, but reminding myself of how lucky I am to be where I am brings me comfort and hope.

PS. Did you know that Santa has blue eyes? ;)

Submitted by Sarah Staedy

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