These last two to three months of isolation have been challenging for everyone. Every day was something new, and it seemed like the longer the nationwide quarantine went on the further away we drifted from normalcy. Each time I talked to a friend it seemed like we would rant about something negative that was bothering us. But, as I look back on the things that have happened in my life recently, I see both the good and the bad. I realized that I was looking at it all wrong. Of course, bad things have happened to everyone in the last few months, but there are also good things that we’ve all been overlooking.

Because of this, I decided to challenge myself and my friends. I reached out to a handful of people asking them for their favorite moment or memory of their quarantine experience in the hopes that it would allow people to gain a new perspective and appreciate the blessings that we all have.

My highschool friends and I call often, and just talking to them is relieving. Sometimes talking to them reminds me we can't be together and floods me with nostalgia of better times, but getting to see their faces, crack jokes, and play games online with them is really fun. I think we're lucky to have so much technology during this time.”

- Zainah Siddiqi, Biology/Chemistry at The University of Texas at Austin

“On my birthday, my sister gave me the board game Settlers of Catan, and it turns out the game almost destroyed my family’s relationship with each other. One night, my mom decided to join my sisters and me for a quick game, but my mom could not seem to understand the concept of the game and was failing miserably. She refused to let us go to bed until she won a game, but the later into the night we got, the more insults we all said to each other (some were very personal). The night ended with a flipped game board, but it proved to be one of the most fun and memorable nights of quarantine.”

- Daniela Figueroa, History at Arizona State University

“My favorite memory of quarantine is having movie nights with my family. I got to spend more time with them during the quarantine and was able to make up for the time we missed while I was in college.”

- Maryam Siddiqui, Biology at The University of Texas at Austin

“I loved the surprise Zoom call that my friends and I put together for the birthday of a set of twins in our group that were turning 19. It was fun celebrating their birthday together but separate. We were talking, laughing, teasing, and playing games. It had been a while since I last saw any of them, so it was nice to take some time away from studying for my exam and spend time with everyone.”

- Arjun Patel, Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin

“One of my favorite quarantine memories is when I got to surprise one of my best friends, Kaleigh, that I haven’t seen since winter break. I went to her house and brought some Dr. Pepper, which both of us can’t live without, and although we couldn’t be any closer than six feet, it was really good to catch up and laugh with someone that I really missed a lot.”

- Brooke Henegar, Pre-Nursing at Wheaton College

“One moment that sticks out is a late night zoom call with 3 of my college friends. From an objective standpoint, not much happened; we talked a lot but most of the time was spent just enjoying each other’s virtual presence or laughing uncontrollably at a video someone would screen share. Most people I know would agree that a true testament of friendship is being able to enjoy hanging out while doing absolutely nothing, and I think that night we added an additional level to that experience: being able to do all that virtually. Getting to see familiar faces again, talk about memories from the semester as though we were actually on campus, and laughing about the same things we regularly do proved to be the most normal part of this abnormal time, making it by far my favorite memory.”

- Bella Correa, Business at Texas A&M University

“As a photographer, I love seeing the different kinds of light play around me throughout the day. My absolute favorite time of the day is right before sunset, the famous Golden Hour. The golden evening light floods through the windows in my house, and I look forward to it every day. During this month of Ramadan, the golden hour coincides with the time when we break our fast, and it's always an amazing experience getting to be with my family together, basking in the sun's golden glow.”

- Zahid Hossain, Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin

“My dad and I have this fun game we’ve been playing since I got back from Wheaton College. He thinks, “No, I can’t be within 6 feet of you or i’ll die…” even though he’s doing anesthesia on potentially covid positive patients all day. The game is called Six Feet, so if I hear him in a room near me I run at him yelling “SIX FEET” and he yells “ASHLEY, I’M SERIOUS. THIS IS NOT A JOKE. STAY AWAY.” I get bonus points if I can prevent him from going somewhere in the house he wants to go just by standing remotely close to his intended path.”

- Ashley McWhorter, Psychology at Wheaton College

“Quarantine has been absolutely insane, but I have also made some good memories. This has really changed my perspective on what I consider “exciting.” One of my favorite memories from quarantine was thinking it would be a good idea to do a 3 day juice cleanse… no food, just juice. On day 2, I went on a drive to Buc-ee’s with my bestie, Gravy (A.K.A. Avery), and we jammed to music and talked. This made me really happy during my fasting which was a bad time and made me remember how thankful I am for my friends and how being home can be okay.”

- Alayna Weyandt, Biology at Pepperdine University

“My favorite memory during this time in quarantine is when I played games over Zoom with my friends. With so much time, I’m able to try out new hobbies and still keep in touch with my people.”

- Michelle Chen, Neuroscience at The University of Texas at Austin

“On a hot day in College Station, my brother and I, bored out of our wits by our exclusive intake of Netflix movies and homework, had to do something different otherwise our minds would abandon us for cooler climates. After having watched about ten different westerns in our isolation, David and I felt we had watched enough John Wayne to create our own Quarantine Western Home Movie™. With nerf guns attached to our hips and hats that concealed our cold Eastwood staredown, we drew and only broke one piece of furniture recreating our favorite western hero stories. With my portrayal of the Good and David’s portrayal of the Bad and the Ugly, we found that with a little creativity and a lot of boredom we could create something that will embarrass us at family parties for decades to come.”

- James Muery, Radio/Television/Film at The University of Texas at Austin

“A few days ago, I was able to hang out with a group of friends that I go way back with from highschool. We got bubble tea and Cane's and caught up - plus we safely social distanced the whole time. Socializing in person made me realize how much I missed recharging in-person with friends! I would 100% recommend if you're feeling down & social media just isn't working anymore.”

- Grace Lee, Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin

“My favorite memory was the birthday celebration my friends did for me. They surprised me by calling ‪at midnight‬ the day of my birthday and then stayed up to talk and play games with me. Also, so many people sent me birthday messages that day which made me feel really loved and special even though I didn't actually get to see anyone that day.”

- Michelle Lee, Biology at The University of Texas at Austin

“My favorite memory from quarantine is when my boyfriend and I had a date night over FaceTime. We had dinner together like we used to at college and talked like everything was normal. After we finished eating, we watched a funny movie together which we hadn’t done in a while. Having a date night together gave me a sense of normalcy that I hadn’t felt in a long time and helped keep me close to someone who is very special to me.”

- Kaleigh Wilkinson, Anthropology at Tulane University

“Despite the setbacks and difficulties of Coronavirus, quarantine has given me the amazing opportunity of spending quality time with my family and appreciating the little things in life. With more free time on my hands, I have adjusted my focus by reflecting on all the good things currently in my life and how I can be a better daughter, sister, and friend. It’s those little moments of seeing how beautiful nature is on my bike rides to laughing for hours on FaceTime with my friends that bring me so much joy and light in my life—especially during this time of unknown.”

- Charlene Huang, Biomedical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin

“Even though quarantine sucks and corona sucks there are actually a lot of positive things I can think of that have come out of it. A big one that I haven't appreciated enough is all the time outside! I feel like I've appreciated getting to spend time with people in a safe way outside more than I ever expected, whether it's swimming or watching the sunset or walks around the neighborhood. I really think that much sun has actually changed my daily mood!”

- Jordan Gilbertson, Dance at The University of Texas at Austin

"Quarantine has been a great time for my family to enjoy each other's company again, play games, and learn more about each other. I'm super thankful for these weeks I never thought I would get with them again since leaving for college. I realize there aren't many silver linings during this pandemic, but it has blessed my family in abundance."

- Becca Coker, Kinesiology at The University of Texas at Austin

Talking over the phone with my cousin Eduardo who lives in Peru has been the best. Normally we get to travel there in summer to visit the family, but because of Covid who knows when we will see them next? We played PlayStation together while on speaker phone over our phones. We had a blast playing, catching up, and talking for hours on end. It made me realize that as bad as quarantine is, people can still have fun in it.”

- Daniel Formella, History at The Catholic University of America

Last but not least, I guess I’ll go. When I look back on my quarantine, I see my sister. Deven is a year and two days older than me and my absolute best friend. We’re both in college, so we never really thought we’d have the opportunity to live together again. Quarantining in our childhood home opened up a new life of all-nighters together, Sonic runs that developed into a Vanilla Dr. Pepper addiction, game nights where I would beat her 9 games out of 11, days of binge watching our favorite childhood movies that we have on DVD, attempts at baking box cakes that we still managed to screw up, and a lot of memories that I will never forget. We have always been close, but quarantine gave us a friendship neither of us ever imagined.

Reading all of these quotes from my friends has given me the ability to see a little bit clearer in the darkness of this time. The common denominators in all of them are the love that radiates through the computer screens from the people they can’t physically be with and the special moments that they’ve all shared with their family members.