Interview with Adam Pulvermacher, 11/10/2021

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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´╗┐ZM: This is Zoe Malone joined alongside instructor Grace Lim interviewing Adam Pulvermacher on November 10, 2021. For Campus COVID stories. Campus COVID stories is a collection of oral stories from students and staff at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh about their experiences in the time of COVID. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. Okay, Adam. So first, could you please pronounce your name and spell it out for us? And then also tell us your major year in college and how old you are?

AP: Absolutely. My name is Adam Pulvermacher spelled A-D-A-M P-U-L-V-E-R-M-A-C-H-E-R. I am currently a kinesiology major. I am in my sophomore year, and have a specific focus in rehab science and I am 21 years old.

ZM: Awesome. And for the purposes of obtaining a good audio recording, can you please tell us again who you are?

AP: Adam Pulvermacher


ZM: Perfect. Thank you so much. So before we get into the nitty gritty of this interview, can you just tell us about yourself, where you're from, you know, where did you grow up? Tell me what your parents did that type of stuff.

AP: Sure. So I grew up in a town called Sauk City, Wisconsin. It's a very small town, very blue collar. It's, you know, what you'd imagine, just a small town in Wisconsin. A lot of cornfields, a lot of farms, stuff along those lines. But no, my mom, she was a special education teacher for over 35 years. She is currently retired and my dad works as the shipping and receiving manager at Beacon athletics. Essentially what they do is they provide a lot of the equipment that a college baseball teams use Major League Baseball teams use such as batting nets, batting cages, plates, the line shock, anything like that, you name it.

ZM: Cool. So coming from a very blue collar city in town, when did you first 00:02:00start thinking about going to college? Is it something that you were always thinking about? Was it a very common thing to do in your town? Did a lot of people end up going to college? Or did they just go straight into the workforce?

AP: So for my town, not a lot of people actually went to college. A lot of people, when they graduated high school, at least, as a male, a lot of guys got into trade stuff along those lines. But for me personally, when I graduated high school it was the end of 2018. I did not know what I wanted to do, really at all. So I wasn't ready to jump into a four year university, anything like that. My mom always said, "You know, I will always support you going to college, but don't waste your money, you know, don't dive into something and then drop out halfway through because you don't like it," So what I did, through that summer, and through that first year, fall of 2018, I worked. I worked at Ace Hardware, and I've been there now it's been over five years, because I still currently 00:03:00work there. But at that time, I'd already worked there for about two years. So I took on a position there full time as a sales associate. Eventually, I actually became their main shipping and receiving person there. So I did that for a period of about three months. And then I would say it was probably around December of 2018, yes, December 2018. I had a conversation with my mom. And I'm like, "you know, mom, I really think, you know, I want to go to college. I'm not you know, for the standard just 9 to 5 go every day to work a job you don't really truly enjoy and are passionate about," So we kind of just sat down and we talked about, you know, what are some of my passions. And, we kind of keyed in on the focus that fitness and the health industry, anything along those lines are huge. They've always, of late, been super important to me. Probably around 2016 I dramatically changed my lifestyle. You know, I was very unhealthy, unfit. 00:04:00And I decided I want to change that for the better. So I really fell in love with trying to live a healthy lifestyle, working out stuff along those lines. And so I decided I want to dedicate my future to fitness and attempting to help other people. So I decided at that point in time, I wanted to attend Madison Area Technical College, which is actually fairly large. It's a very big campus. It's what I believe has the most enrollment in the state of Wisconsin as far as universities go. It's over, I'm kind of spitballing, I want to say like 15 to 20,000 kids are still the students because it's all types. You know, it's kids from age 18 all the way up to people in their 40s 50s Trying to get technical degrees. You know, to help them with their future career. So I decided to go there. And you know, I sat down with the academic advisor for the fitness and 00:05:00wellness technical program there at MATC. You know, and she was so great to me, you know, she really made me feel welcome. So I decided I was gonna dive in there. And that's kind of how I got my feet wet and first started in college life.

ZM: Cool. So obviously you ended up at UW Oshkosh. Why did you end up choosing Oshkosh?

AP: Gosh, so at that time, fast forward, it was about now it's officially the fall of 2019. So I had been at MATC for a half a year. So I had a full semester under my belt there, I was halfway done with my technical degree. And I had a lot of buddies from my hometown, actually like I said, not a lot of my guy friends that I knew growing up, went to college. a lot of them got into the trades. However, from Sauk City the vast majority of people that I grew up with actually attended UW Oshkosh. So I was able to come up here, you know, we partied together, did all that type of stuff in 2019. And, I came up here, and I 00:06:00genuinely fell in love, you know, with the area with the city with the atmosphere and environment up here. And I decided, I think, because I knew after I graduated from MATC, I was going to want to continue my education. And then I decided I would like to get a bachelor's and kinesiology and keep building my health resume. So I kind of was really patterned. I talked to my instructor and she told me, "you have to do what you think is right for you,". So at that time, I decided to talk to my parents, everything like that. I said after I graduate in December of 2019 from MATC, I want to come up here for the fall, or for the spring 2020 semester at UW Oshkosh and continue my education.

ZM: Really cool! So now let's move on to the early days of COVID at Oshkosh, so at the beginning of this spring 2020 semester, where were you and your college career? Did you have a pretty full class load, especially being a transfer 00:07:00student? Did you have to go through all this crazy administrative stuff? Was that putting some pressure on you? And what was your living situation? Or what dorm Did you live in?

AP: Yeah, so coming here actually was tricky. Not only did I want to come up here, it would have made my life probably about 10,000 times easier if I were to just swallow that and wait for the official spring semester to start. But I decided I wanted to transfer in an interim, which if anyone doesn't know, is essentially a three week period where you can take a three credit class over three weeks, and you can get that class out of the way. So I decided I wanted to come up for the winter. Um, so I did that. Luckily, one of my other friends who went to UW Whitewater, decided he was transferring to Oshkosh as well. So I had a roommate and we got into South Scott, where we lived, I got acquainted with it. So it was nice to kind of get my feet wet with Oshkosh. How things worked, all the online stuff, how to submit assignments, everything like that. I knew how to do that. So before the official spring 2020 semester, I knew what was 00:08:00going on. And then I went through the winter period. And when spring 2020 started, it was a change, but it wasn't super difficult. I mean, it was my freshman year, so everything wasn't that tough. It wasn't like I was a freshman coming straight out of high school, I already had a full year of college etiquette, you know, built into me, so I kind of expected or understood what to know.

ZM: Alright, so when do you first remember hearing about COVID? And, you know, what was your initial reaction? What was your friend's reaction? You know, family, that type of thing.

AP: Right. So my initial kind of reaction when it was, I would say, I probably first heard about COVID, around the end of January, early February. I remember hearing about this alleged bat virus that was coming out of China. You know, and I remember it was like everything else, you know, in America, we almost think we're invincible, we don't have to really worry about a lot of the stuff that a 00:09:00lot of other countries that aren't as developed as us worry about. And I just remember, Trump was the president at the time and he was saying, you know, you don't really gotta worry about it, you know, nothing's really going to transpire. So that was kind of how I first heard about it, and I didn't really think anything to be up, you know, honest with it.

ZM: So, you know, what were your feelings when Oshkosh and basically everywhere else in mid March, started shutting down all of a sudden. It was a pretty quick turn around. First the media and everyone was saying, "Oh, no,you don't have to worry about it," And then all of a sudden, you know, things are shutting down. Shops are closing, schools are closing. It was kind of a snowball effect.

AP: Right. Yeah, no, that's a good way to put it. It was definitely a snowball effect. I remember sitting with a lot of my buddies that we had already been here a full year. They were living in Horizon Village at that time, which that's one of the dormitories here on campus. And I remember we were all sitting in the living room area. And we were just kind of watching, I believe that we were 00:10:00watching like ESPN, it was some sports channel or whatever. And really, I think the first thing that kind of shocked the world, the NBA shut down the NBA, there were players for the Jazz that tested positive. And then that was kind of the first like, Oh, my God moment like, this is kind of real. So that was like the first initial shock, like, Okay, this is not good. And then I remember I was actually in Intro to Psychology that time for one of my Gen Ed's. This was probably like a day, probably about a day or two later. And I remember seeing Ohio State University, they shut down due to concerns over to COVID. They were going to go on spring break a little early, because this was all right around like the week before spring break was about to happen. So we were getting ready to go home anyway. I jokingly asked, other people in the study, I'm like, "Do you think you know, like, we're gonna shut down yada, yada, yada?" And they were like, "Oh, no way, there's no way we're gonna shut down,". I'm like, And I just 00:11:00kind of laughed it off or whatever. But at the back of my head, I'm like, "Well, if these major universities are going to start shutting down, I would think that something is probably bound to happen,"

ZM: Yeah, for sure.

AP: And then, so I remember it was, like, I want to say it was a Wednesday, the week before spring break. And that's when the initial kind of like, Okay, this is happening. I was actually sitting in my psychology room, and I was friends with a couple athletes at that time. And they got an email saying that we're getting sent home, essentially a week before spring break, because we didn't know, they didn't really know what was going on. They just wanted to send us home just to be safe. And then my instructor told us that you're going to be getting an email soon. And we're going to be going home a week early for spring break. You know, we have a Thursday class. And then after Thursday, everyone pretty much has to be out by Friday. So that was when we're like, okay, yeah, this is gonna be a pretty big deal.

ZM:Yeah. So obviously, like we said, Before, everything was kind of a snowball 00:12:00effect. It happened pretty quickly. So prior to the university shutting down, how much planning did you do for the shutdown? You know, did you have a game plan? Did you really know where you were going to stay where you were going to go? And were your parents involved at all?

AP: I talked to my parents, obviously, I'm like, "Yeah, listen, you know, the university is shutting down,". But no, there wasn't really much preparation at all, they pretty much told us that we had a two day notice to get out of the dorms. I remember that time, there wasn't a full on, move out. Because at this point, we didn't really know what we were doing. So I didn't pack a lot. I mean, I packed a good amount of stuff, because I'm like, maybe I'll be home for a little bit of time. So I brought my gaming console, my TV stuff along those lines. But a lot of my stuff I left up in the dorms, because, you know, I didn't think that we were going to be going home for the full semester. So I mean, there wasn't a huge amount of preparation, because like I said, a lot of people still, at this point, were taking it seriously. We didn't really know what it was eventually going to turn into.

ZM: Yeah. Alright, so after the university shut down, and everything. Where did 00:13:00you go? So you were sent home, obviously, a week before spring break, which was supposed to be March 22 through the 29th. And what did you end up doing? And did you have any plans to do anything over spring break? And what did COVID ultimately do due to those plans?

AP: Yeah. So I went home, obviously, over spring break. And like myself, a lot of my friends were all from the Sauk City area. A lot of them went home, too. I don't want to say it was totally different because like we were still hanging out. It was like, we were at college, but we weren't at college, because it's the same group of people. So yeah, we were still all hanging out in the big plan, we wanted to go to the Wisconsin Dells. I want to say we were planning the wilderness or something like that. And at this point in time, the wilderness was still open, you know, they were saying like, "Yeah, we're not going to shut down,". So we were still planning to go there over spring break. But then, you know, a week goes by and then eventually they shut down too. And we're like, okay, yeah, no plans for spring break.

ZM: Yeah. So since you went home, do you remember how long you thought you were 00:14:00going to be home? Did you think it was going to be kind of a permanent thing? Or I think that was gonna last for a while, did you think it was going to be pretty, you know, quick to quick turn around, oh, we're gonna go home for a week and then we're gonna be back.

AP: When I first went home. I want to say, at first I was optimistic that we were going to be going back. I really thought that we were going to be going back. But you know, after a few days, and that's really when it started to hit right over that spring break period. That's kind of when the CDC first launched the, you know, the so called quarantine that shut down for two weeks to flatten the curve or whatever. That's what they said. So I thought, you know, hopefully, after two weeks, you know, life would regain somewhat normality again. We'd be able to go back to the university. at the back of my head, I thought that this was because someone like this is not me. It had to have my parents' life. It hadn't happened in my life of course. It was just so unfamiliar. So I knew, I knew in the back of my mind that this probably wasn't going away anytime soon.


ZM: Yeah, and for those who probably do not know what flattening of the curve means, essentially, there was just a lot of data showing, you know, the number of deaths that were caused by COVID. And the number of just total COVID cases. And when they said, you know, flatten the curve, they just wanted to kind of even out or drop those numbers. So, flatten the curve just means decrease the COVID cases and deaths and everything like that. Okay, so how did you transition to, you know, living at home? Was it difficult to start living with your family again? Did you find it easy?

AP: You know, I didn't, I didn't think it was too difficult. I mean, I've lived with my parents my whole life. I moved back when we would come back normally, from spring break, I think it was either a week or two after that, they essentially announced like, yeah, we're staying put. The university is getting shut down for the rest of the semester. So eventually I went up, and I moved 00:16:00out, you know, everything. And luckily, at that time, I had a girlfriend that lived in Beaver Dam. SoI was always bouncing back and forth between there and Beaver Dam. So I was just able to go from Beaver Dam, get all my stuff, come back and relax at her house. But at that time, you know, I just got all my stuff. And I came back home. And you know, it was weird, you know, being at home. And during this time, you know, because it's like, I don't really know how I'm supposed to handle this situation. But yeah, it was just weird. It was weird.

ZM: Yeah. So obviously, you said it really wasn't that difficult for you? So were the other people in your home like your family members or siblings? Were they more affected by COVID? How were they affected by COVID?

AP: So my mom was retired, so it didn't affect her. She was out of the equation. My dad was still working in Madison. So Madison, obviously, it's a major city in Wisconsin, they pretty much shut down. So my dad was at work, you know, he was on paid leave, essentially. And my sister moved out, she wasn't living with us 00:17:00at a time. But she worked at the Sauk City hospital and did all of her work there. She used to have an office there, but soon everything moved online as well.

ZM: Okay, so how are the COVID protocols dealt with at your home at first? Masking, social distancing? Was there a lot of you know, kind of head banging, was there a lot of friction, you know, or were you all in agreement? Were you all kind of on the same page? Like, yeah, this is kind of what we have to do.

AP: So the Sauk area like I said, it's very blue collar. It leans much more to the red than blue, to put it. At that time, you know, everything was kind of they were all we were all in lockstep that, you know, masking everything was the way to go. Because we didn't really know what else to do. So I actually was working, I went back and I worked at Ace Hardware, that's where I'd been working. And we all were required to wear masks. And that's pretty much we followed the trend and everywhere else in town was essentially following the 00:18:00same deal.

ZM: So because you worked at a hardware store, where you deemed essential during that time, did you remain open? And how did, if you did stay open, how did your role change, if at all? How did the company deal with COVID?

AP: So we were deemed essential. I remember I was actually at work when it happened. And my sister pretty much sent me the link from our news channel that, you know, any business deemed non essential is getting shut down. So I showed that to my store manager. And I'm like, "Are we essential, because I didn't know whether or not I was not going to be working in the next couple of days, or whether I was still going to be working,". And we had a big talk, you know, we had a big meeting in the company and we were deemed essential because you know, the people there still need hardware, you know, it doesn't matter whether you're home or not people still need to fix stuff. So yeah, we did that and we kind of dealt with it, because obviously we had a business drop off. We weren't gonna be cashing in much the same as we used to be. So what we did was we changed our 00:19:00hours. We were normally open from eight to eight, and instead we were then open from eight to six.

ZM:Okay, so obviously you spent a lot of time with your family and you said you all kind of agreed on the COVID protocols and everything, but because you were with them so much with protocols and everything, was it hard being around them so much? If you need to, were you able to get out of the house? You said that you had a girlfriend. Were you able to go out and see her, see friends?

AP: Yeah, so my parents weren't super super strict about it. They were pretty lax. I wouldn't say there was ever really an issue within the house, because I consider my mom and dad like my best friends you know, either people I can always go to. Talk about anything but yeah, I know they were totally cool with you know, a select, like a handful of friends coming over or my girlfriend coming over. My girlfriend's parents were a little bit different. They pretty much laid down the law that only significant others who come over to the house. So she had a different situation. But my first big, big shock out of the whole, 00:20:00you know, going out social interaction when my friend, kind of when this was going on, I actually went over my lifelong best friend's house. He lives a couple houses down from me. I went over to his house, and you know, I kind of just walked to the door like nonchalant, like it's always been. And I pretty much got told I have to get out, because they were taking it extremely seriously at that point. So I wasn't able to see him for a while. But after a few weeks, they kind of loosened up and things kind of changed in that realm. But that was like my first time, wow, this is crazy. I mean, I've known these people, literally my entire life.

ZM: Yeah. And even my parents weren't that strict. But some of my friends' parents were like, No, you're not leaving this house. Alright. So obviously, all the classes ended up moving online. So did you find the transition to online learning? Easy? Was it difficult for you? Did you, you know, obviously, in college, you do a lot of group projects, how did you manage that, you know, even finals projects? And obviously, labs, of course, before COVID, they were all in 00:21:00person? I'm assuming. How did that go? How did professors deal with that? And how did you deal with any technology issues that you had in your house?

AP: Yeah, no. So, I thought I didn't really run into any technology issues, but I thought the transition was not hard at all. To be honest with you, I might have found my classes to be much easier. A lot of the in-person assignments they pretty much just got wiped, so that was out of the equation, which was nice. It made my life easier. We had to interview; I remember for my intro to Kinesiology class. We had to go out and we had to interview essentially three health professionals. You know, whether they're occupational therapists, athletic trainers, personal trainers, you name it, we had to go out find these and conduct these interviews. And I had already done two interviews at the time. So pretty much I just had to do my last one via zoom. And, you know, it was fairly easy. I mean, it wasn't a very hard transition at all. My instructors did, because they didn't really know how to handle this issue, we knew that they were 00:22:00testing it too. So it really wasn't that difficult.

ZM: And for those of you who will not know what Zoom is, or do not know what Zoom is, it was basically just kind of like, in simple terms, a FaceTiming kind of software that you could connect with your professors and other teachers, friends. Anybody else really, and it worked very similarly to FaceTime, but that's pretty much the primary way that we would do lectures if they weren't already prerecorded, or we would have meetings with people. So that was fun. So obviously, you know, most of your semester at this point was moved to online, you know, what were your feelings after about finishing up the semester, you know, off campus,

AP: To be honest with you, I was just ready to be done. Because while I was still taking my courses, everything was pretty much pre-recorded. I was lucky, I didn't have to actually try to think back on it. I don't believe I had to actually physically be online in the classroom on the zoom at any specific time, 00:23:00everything was kind of already prerecorded. So that was nice. So I kind of work on my own time. So I was working full time, but at the same time, I was trying to finish up my school. Yeah. So you know, I was just, I was ready for the semester to be over. I just wanted to keep working and not have to really focus on the school aspect of this point.

ZM: Yeah, for sure. I totally get that. So, you know, obviously, Kinesiology is a pretty hands on major. So how much did COVID actually impact your major? And at any point during COVID? Did you ever think about switching due to COVID? Or did you think, oh, no, this is going to blow over, I'll be fine. I'm sticking with it.

AP: So I always went into it kind of with a positive mindset. I was going to stick with it. Because I figured, we're still obviously living in times of COVID. But I figured after things somewhat get normalized, which they already kind of are now at this stage in the game. Health care professionals are always 00:24:00going to be in need. They're always going to be people that need to take care of other people. So I believe that is a you know, kind of a career path that even with pandemics like this going on, the careers within that field are always going to be needed,

ZM: Of course. So obviously, we're now a few months in. You finished your semester at Oshkosh, but everything happened so quickly. You had to pick up a move back home, you transfer all this stuff at this point. How were you feeling emotionally? Were the people around you coping well? Are they not coping really well? Emotionally?

AP: I was doing okay, I was fine. I think just like any other you know, young adults. the standard stuff you go through and everything, but as far as COVID goes, it really didn't weigh me down too much. And I think a very, very big part of that was the fact that I had all my friends that I'm used to going to college with literally all around me. I can hang out with any of the guys that I ever would hang out with whenever I was at Oshkosh or not. So you know, that was a 00:25:00huge help., I feel like if I was probably in a situation where I couldn't see my family, my friends, you know, if there was like restrictions on my girlfriend at that point, then definitely, I believe it would have negatively affected me. But luckily, I had a pretty good situation.

ZM: And you said before one of your pretty close friends, they had pretty strict parents, and they weren't really allowed to see you that often at first initially. So what about your friends? How was he feeling? Did you stay in contact with him outside of seeing him in person? Just how were they handling everything?

AP: Right. So, he actually handled it well. He just kind of chalked it up like, oh, yeah, they're just kind of lonely or whatever. But no, he handled it well. We were still able to see each other because he would always go to our other friend's house. And you know, he just says yeah, he's going to his girlfriend's house and he would come hang out with us. So he kind of got away with line. His parents laxed up. It was probably during the initial first shock, when people didn't really know what was going on, the severity of the virus, you know, stuff 00:26:00like that. So looking back, I understand 100%. Like, yeah, they don't want anyone besides immediate family within the house. And I understand that. But no, I mean, he was able to handle it well, because we could still talk to each other. Via, you know, just Snapchat or calling each other. We'd still hang out on the weekends, we'd get together at one of our buddies houses and hang out.

ZM: So cool. I know, before you said that, you still had a job at this time, and you were still working. And you were deemed essential. So you did stay open. And you also said that your mom's retired. So you know, you had some sort of income. I know, your dad also did have some sort of income. So if you're willing to talk about it, can you tell me about how COVID affected you and your family financially? And did you have any financial aid issues? Did you have to reach out to the school at all to see if you could get any, you know, scholarships, or loans or grants or that type of thing?

AP: Sure. So, financially within my family, it didn't affect us that much. My dad was still getting paid while he was on leave. And he wound up going back to 00:27:00work, I want to say it was like May 1 of 2020. He had to go back to work, mask up and everything. But he was back in the workforce. For myself COVID actually, this is kind of weird to say, it helped me a ton financially, because instead of going back and starting to work in June, I went back and started to work in March. So I was able to secure another two full months of working. Yeah, time, it was huge. I remember, I was living in the dorms at that point. So we were actually refunded quite a bit of money that would have gone towards paying towards living in the dorms and the meal plan. So financially, COVID actually helped me a ton because I was able to bank away a lot more money than I normally would have been able to. And that you know it still helped me coming in the next year because I just had an income.

ZM: Cool. Cool. All right. So obviously, we talked about the semester ending now it is summer. So obviously, did you continue to work throughout the summer? Or did you stop so you could actually do some stuff with your friends? Would you 00:28:00continue to work?

AP: No, I continued to work. I worked a ton over the summer. I had pretty good hours, I worked seven to four o'clock, or 7:30 to four. I'd go in, you know, half an hour before it opened. But no, I worked 730 to four. So I was busy during the day. And then pretty much every night me with all my friends living within, essentially, it's a 5 to 10 mile radius together. I mean, we were getting together, partying, doing whatever, all the time. So I mean, it really, I don't want to say it felt normal, because it wasn't normal. Nothing was normal, but it felt about as normal as normal can be in these times.

ZM: And in the summer did things you know start to loosen up a little bit. Were mask mandates becoming a little bit less strict? Were there restaurants where they allowed people, bars allowing people? Were you able to travel outside of Wisconsin, if you had any vacations planned or did you kind of stay in your little area?

AP: Sure. So we didn't travel but I mean, I don't think COVID would have changed that at all because my family we're just not a big traveling family. I've always 00:29:00been very homebody-esque but as far as restriction goes, looking back on it, at this time, in the summer of 2020 Things were starting, at least in my hometown, to loosen up. I remember at work I believe masks were optional in the summer, we didn't have to wear them. If you wanted to wear them, you could. If customers did not, when COVID first hit, essentially if you walked into our store without a mask, they had to get out. So now you know it's June, July it's hot, you know, not it didn't seem like that many people were sick with COVID at least in our area. Everything kind of seemed I don't want to say, because it was still around you like we couldn't go into you know, I remember our restaurants and like fast food chains around our area. They were still all shut down towards indoor dining. So you know everything was still drive thru like that. But as far as our store in general, you know, it just seemed less much less restrictive.

ZM: All right, so now let's get into the fall of 2020. So when you learn that 00:30:00Oshkosh was returning to in person classes for the fall 2020 semester, you know, what was your initial reaction? And if you can remember, do you remember, you know, when they decided that they were going to go back in person and everything like that?

AP: I want to say it was probably I want to say it was mid-summer, we kind of got an email because if I remember correctly, other UW schools were remaining online, at least during the first semester of fall 2020. But no, I was stoked to get back. I was so excited. Because like I said before, I love the environment up here. I was going to be back again, with all my friends, you know, all our girlfriends that we haven't seen in a while. I was so excited to get back. I knew things were gonna be weird. But I just figured, you know, as long as we're back up in Oshkosh, you know, it'll feel as normal, you know, as it can be. Yeah.

ZM: So, that semester, Oshkosh chose to offer some classes in person, but mostly 00:31:00online. So obviously, it sounded like you wanted to go back. So why do you think that would have been the best choice for you? And do you feel like in retrospect, it would have been or was the right choice for you?

AP: It was the right choice for me. I just knew mentally I wanted to get back, you know, I missed Oshkosh, I missed having, not that my parents were so restrictive, but just my own being on my own, my personal freedom, everything like that. And I really enjoy learning and furthering my education. I was ready to get back to it, because I just want to get through and further my education and complete my degree.

ZM: So you felt like it was the best choice for you?

AP: Absolutely.

ZM: So obviously, fall 2020. COVID It is still there. But, you know, what was lifelike at Oshkosh? Once you come back how are you feeling about it? Especially, you know, before you obviously were excited to come back, you were 00:32:00really looking forward to it. And then, you know, Oshkosh had all these restrictions, everything. So did your, you know, attitude change? Or were you still kind of in that same mindset.

AP: Obviously, it was a little bit depressing, because it sucked having to wear a mask everywhere, and abide by the COVID laws and everything like that, and get tested every week. But I understood, it's how they were doing their part to keep us open and keep campus safe. So I lived with it. And just like every other student, you know, we got to just kind of embrace it, you know, it's just it is what it is. there's not really much you can do about it.

ZM: Yeah. And obviously, you know, all these students getting tested every week, wearing a mask every week. Did you actually ever end up getting COVID During that school year, or at any point during the pandemic?

AP: Not during the school year, I actually caught it right before coming up here. So I got it, it was probably mid-August. So like, three weeks before actually school started. So I came up here and I know after everything that 00:33:00we're going like natural immunity, everything like that, like I should be okay. So I wasn't super, super scared or whatever. But I remember the initial first spike within the first couple weeks. And I remember, I was at my buddy's house. And essentially what happened was, we were all sitting around, and I remember two of my friends. Actually, there's a backstory, but I'll get into that with my friends. They ordered Buffalo Wild Wings, which is a big, you know, chicken place or whatever. And they were eating wings. And all of a sudden, I remember my one friend going like, "I can't taste these wings,". And then my other friend was like, "Yeah, I can't taste them, either,". That was our first instance, like, Oh my God. You know, everyone's got COVID or whatever. Yeah their entire house essentially tested positive for COVID. We were like, just trying to figure out you know, how everyone got COVID. And it turns out, we kind of nailed it down and did a little tracking. One of our friends wasn't like a super close friend, but you know, he was an acquaintance like a friend. He'd come over 00:34:00occasionally. He ended up going to Oktoberfest at La Crosse. It was probably about the weekend before. So he came up. He got it when he went to La Crosse and we pretty much narrowed it down that he went to La Crosse and brought COVID back. Then that's how everyone got sick.

ZM: Oh my gosh. That's crazy. All right. So now you know you're alright, so obviously you said that you had gotten COVID Everything. So tell me a little bit about that. You know, what were your symptoms? How did you feel during you know the time that you had COVID

AP: Um, so my symptoms compared to most I would say were more mild. I didn't have extremely bad symptoms. Luckily, thank God, I never lost my taste or smell, which I love to eat. So if I would have not been able to taste anything that would have probably made me really depressed because I'm already sick and it's like, oh, well, I can't even go to food for comfort. But no, I just remember 00:35:00having almost a head cold. I did have a really bad cough. I remember I had a really bad cough. And probably the biggest thing was body aches. I'm huge into working out and pretty much every morning that I woke up, I felt like I just got through an extremely strenuous workout. Like I just gave it everything I had. So essentially, I dealt with it. Like, I think a lot of people dealt with it. I didn't do anything. I just pretty much laid in bed for four or five days before I really felt you know, feeling better. But yeah, I relaxed. Luckily, none of my family ended up testing positive because I kind of quarantined myself. I mean, it sucked, but it wasn't wasn't super bad for me, compared to others.

ZM: Yeah, well, that's good. I've had COVID. losing my taste and smell was the worst part of it all. Alright, so now here you are, you're back on campus. So how was living in the dorms or apartments? You know, can you tell me where you live? You know, did you find yourself isolating, self-quarantining, because of 00:36:00you know, contact tracing and whatever else.

AP: Right, So I lived in North Scott at that time period. I live with actually, I know, this is crazy, because I have all these friends, I had another friend that transferred up to Oshkosh. He was my roommate during that time period, because the one that I roomed with my freshman year, he wound up getting out of the Housing Agreement, and he lived in the annex with one of our other friends. So I had another friend that ended up transferring up here, and we roomed together in North Scott. And luckily, this was, this is one of my best friends. I've known this guy for six, seven years, I mean, we've been friends since middle school. So you know, it was tough, not being able to go out and interact really a ton with other people on your floor. But it makes it a lot better when you have one of your best friends that you've known half your life there with.

ZM: Of course, and obviously, you just said, you know, interacting with people on your floor was difficult. So, did you find your interactions with people actually changed? You know, did you become less of a social individual because 00:37:00of COVID, or did that kind of remain the same. I mean, I know that Oshkosh had pretty heavy and strict protocols not letting people in your room guess that type of thing.

AP: So I kind of lucked out. I mean, I wouldn't call myself antisocial by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm not like a huge socialite. I go out and try to, you know, meet all these tons of new people. So it wasn't too bad for me, because I already have my good friend group up here, you know, so I'm not actually like really going out and seeking trying to meet new people. So it wasn't really that negative for me. I made a couple friends on the floor, which is good and nice. It didn't have a huge impact on me not being able to go out and you know, talk to all my other roommates and you know.

ZM: Yeah. So, you know, you said that you had your friend group, and you had your roommate and everything like that, but did you actually end up meeting other people that year? Or did you just really stick with that main group of people?

AP: The fall of 2020, we essentially stuck with that main group of people 00:38:00because like, you know, you were up here, too, it was really difficult. Even if you wanted to go out and meet people, it was like you almost couldn't, because they didn't want a bunch of people gathering together. They didn't want you interacting with you out on your floor. So yeah, no, we pretty much stuck together, which was nice, because we already have a huge friend group up here. Yeah, it was nice that we had that core group. We didn't really seek out, you know, newcomers or, you know, new friends.

ZM: Yeah. So, you know, there were a lot of pretty big changes in the fall 2020. Obviously, you know, the social interactions were pretty cut down to essentially nothing at all. Online classes, even the dining situation, were pretty difficult. I mean, I remember about two weeks in I remember, they were like, no, no, you can't eat out anymore. You can only go to Blackhawk or you can only do you know, take out. So what, in your opinion, was the biggest change that you saw at Oshkosh, from the spring 2020 semester to the fall 2020.

AP: The biggest change? I would say, I have to say, I have to think about it. Probably like you just mentioned the dining situation. I remember, I mean 00:39:00Blackhawk especially, that's the main dining area here on campus. I remember in the spring, I mean, it was packed, there were so many people. I mean, you had all the sports teams that went in there, all different groups, everyone ate at Blackhawk. To see it go from that to now in the fall of 2020, when you literally had to follow a line in there because they had little cutouts for you to walk through, get your green tray and then go and get your food and then you couldn't even sit down and eat there for about like the first two weeks, and then essentially for the rest of the semester. So just to see everything just go from so active and lively, just almost l dead. There was just nothing going on.

ZM: So with all of these changes and everything, you know, how do you think that the departments and the faculty and staff and everything, how do you think they did with this, you know, hybrid approach to education? Obviously, a lot of people were going through changes and did You think that you are getting a good 00:40:00quality education at this time?

AP: Yeah, you know, I think they did a really good job. I got to give the instructors credit they deserve. Compared to where it was when everything at first initially went down, they made so many strides, you know, to the new online learning system. Now, we were actually going at scheduled times, everyone was having a class. So it's like you're going to class in person, but you don't, you just logged on your computer, stuff like that. But no, I think, you know, our faculty did a very, very good job of making the transition online.

ZM: Yeah, no, I do too. So let's fast forward. We're a year and a half from the start of this thing. So it is currently fall 2021. Now, vaccines are readily available on campus. And in fact, they're very much advocated for by the administration and the CDC. So initially, what were your thoughts about the VAX Up campaign to get students vaccinated to win scholarships?

AP: I think the University did a great job. I think, you know, at that point in time, they were readily available. So you know, you could go out and get it if you want, you didn't have to if you didn't want to, but you know, you can be we 00:41:00can make the choice. And I think the University did a great job incentivizing, you know, through awards, scholarships to go out and get it. I remember they had the, you know, I want to say was like $7,000.

ZM: Yeah, like 70 for 70 right? Yeah, to hit 70% vaccination rates on campus.

AP: I remember they offered $100 and I think they did a fantastic job, trying to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

ZM: Yeah, for sure. So, you know, like I said, a year and a half into this whole thing. So how much do you feel like things are actually getting back to normal? And you know, for, like, what does normal mean to you? Now, obviously, we kind of have a quote unquote, new normal, but do you think things will, you know, go back to how they were pre pandemic free?

AP: I don't know if things will ever fully return back to pre-pandemic, just because now, I believe at least this generation, people are just so much more weary regarding infectious diseases, because now people that really didn't know 00:42:00anything about them are so educated about it. They've heard the news and everyone else talked about it for the last two years. So it's something that everyone themselves has an opinion on. But I hope you know, this last the the summer of 2021, especially when I was back at home, I came up here quite a bit to the Oshkosh area, Madison which is a huge metropolitan area, things started to feel normal again, you know, they weren't the mask mandates everything along those lines. They were still talking about social distance a little bit. It wasn't like it was heavily enforced, like you're gonna get tracked down and yelled at or told you had to do a certain thing. So I do believe life is getting back to normal, I don't know how long it will take or if it will ever fully return to normal. But I think we're going to get about probably as close as we ever can get.

ZM: Yeah. So obviously, you know, what would you what would school have to be like, for you to call it normal? If you don't already consider what we're currently in right now. Normal?


AP: You know, I would just say, you know, like I said, school feels almost normal at this point, just everyone's wearing a mask. Yeah, that's pretty much you know, I shock everything up, there's not as strict I remember, in the fall of 2020, how you couldn't sit next to one another, you know, they had each seat blocked off because of social distancing. Everything along those lines, but now, you can sit next to one another. I don't live in the dorms, but I know now in the dorms, you can go out, you don't have to be wearing your mask. You know, you don't have to get tested, you know, every week, if you live off campus. You know, I honestly think school does feel very normal again, compared to where it used to be. And now I just think the biggest thing is the mask. And I think over time, you know, that'll get dropped.

ZM: Yeah, no, I would agree to and even to your point with the mask thing, I already feel like it's just a big, I mean, they're already loosening it up. And we're not even done with the first semester yet. So are there any aspects about COVID life at school that you think won't change back at all?

AP: Just about school itself, I think, I think something along the lines of like 00:44:00online learning that will always now be prevalent. For instructors, I believe they'll always have a back up plan. Yeah, you know, when it comes to if they were ever, you know, be a scenario where if there was another outbreak or anything along those lines, essentially, if they would have to move online, I believe, now, the response will be much more prepared in order to go vastly smoother than it did, you know, a year and a half ago.

ZM: I feel like for some professors there could be a sense of convenience in it as well. I mean, online stuff has just been almost revolutionized in this year and a half just because of COVID. There had to be a lot of things added to all this stuff. So I think there would be some convenience.

AP: Yeah, kind of just to piggyback off that. I mean, I think it's definitely, I mean, it's not only made our lives easier, I think the instructors too, because now instead of, you know, having to schedule off office hours, you know, have students scheduling and come in and meet with them in person, you know, you can 00:45:00shoot your instructor an email, and you can move them over zoom in 10-15 minutes, you know, it's always easier.

ZM: Yeah. So, before we wrap up here, we only have a few more questions left. So what about you now? Are there any aspects of yourself that you think COVID has changed for good, you know, how do you think that this historical event might have changed you permanently, if at all?

AP: Yeah, you know, I think, not only did it make myself a stronger individual, I think it made a lot of other people, stronger individuals. This was something. I kind of joked around with my friends, this was before COVID ever happened. Every generation, you know, there always seems to be a significant event that really shapes them. There's a major reaction, you know, you can think back to the 911 World Trade Center attacks, you know, the major wars that have happened. And, you know, I was talking with my friend group, and I'm like, you know, we've never really had something that we've had to think about and overcome and deal with, until COVID happened. So I just think having the mental strength to get through it, you know, not being able to do a lot of the things that, we're in a 00:46:00very, we're at our How do I say this, we're at a point in our lives right now, where going out doing, fun things that's kind of at the forefront of what we like to do in our early 20s. And a lot of that stuff, you know, it was stripped from us. So just being able to get over that and make the best out of life.

ZM: Yeah, I believe that's one of the best things that have gained from this. And do you have anything else you'd like to add?

AP: I do not.

ZM: All right. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate your

contribution to the Campus COVID stories at UW Oshkosh.