Submitted by Nicole Maureen Orejuela from Brookfield Central High School in Wisconsin.
I was at track practice when I first heard about the quarantine. Indeed, our team had just finished running 5 miles and was heading upstairs to complete a strength session when our coach announced the news. Only for a few days, she said. We'll be back after Spring break, she said. If only that were true. Instead, our school remained closed for the remainder of the year, hence forcing us all into "virtual learning." While some people dealt with the transition rather smoothly, it was much more challenging for me than I care to admit. I missed waking up at 6:00 a.m., coffee in hand, as I rushed out the door to head to class. I missed catching up with my friends before class and seeing my teachers walk in the door. But most of all, I missed that feeling of "normalcy" I had before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Nonetheless, I knew I had to adjust to the situation at hand. After a few days of virtual learning, I quickly discovered that I am a very schedule-oriented and disciplined person. Therefore, I created a routine for myself, waking up every morning at 6:30 a.m., eating breakfast, and then working on each class for approximately 90 minutes before my mid-day Zoom meetings. Once these sessions were complete, I ate lunch, read for 30-45 minutes, and then began my homework (or remaining assignments) until I was finished. After all my classwork was completed, I went on a run before eating dinner and heading to bed. Although some may find this routine rather rigid, I loved the structure and order it gave my life. In an uncertain and scary time, I found some comfort in being able to establish a set schedule for myself. Moreover, I also discovered that daily walks with my mother and dog provided me another outlet. Getting some extra sunshine and taking a break from my school work to talk about various topics with my mom always brightened my day. Despite how much has changed in the last few months, I consistently find myself grateful to have such an amazing and supportive family around me during these unprecedented times. Everyone is finding different ways to cope, and it may not always be easy, but I know we can all make it through this - together.