Interview with Allison Ruiz, 11/12/2021

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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´╗┐LM: This is Leah Matthews interviewing Allison Ruiz on November 12, of 2021, for the campus COVID stories. A collection of oral stories from students and staff of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh about their experiences in the time of COVID. Thank you for participating in this project. First, could you please pronounce your name and spell it out for us?

AR: Yeah. Hi, I'm Allison Ruiz. A-L-L-I-S-O-N R-U-I-Z

LM: Thank you. And for the purpose of obtaining a good audio recording. Can you please tell us what your major is, your year, your age? And please tell us again who you are.

AR: Yeah. I'm Allison Ruiz. I'm a sophomore here at UWO, studying Spanish education. And I'm 19 years old.

LM: Thank you. And just to get started, we would like to get to know you a little bit. So where did you grow up? And what can you tell me about it?

AR: Yeah, so I grew up in a town called Sussex, Wisconsin. It's in southeastern 00:01:00Wisconsin about an hour and 10 away from Oshkosh. Um, it is a suburban neighborhood. It's a predominantly white neighborhood. When I first moved there, there wasn't like a lot of action going on. But now buildings, apartment buildings are going up everywhere. It is very much more lively. And it's becoming more of a city than it is a village. So yeah.

LM: Okay. You said you moved there. Did you live there your whole life then?

AR: Oh, my first year of life. I lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And then my parents wanted us to go to a better school and just live in a better place in general. And that's when we moved out to Sussex.

LM: Okay. And was it just your parents and you and how many siblings do you have?

AR: Oh, yeah. So in my household, there is my mom, my dad. My grandma has lived with us my whole life, um, two of my brothers, and then my brother's girlfriend, and then their child also lives with us.

LM: Okay, this is a big family then?

00:02:00

AR: Yes.

LM: So can you tell me about your parents? What did they do for a job?

AR: Yeah, so my mom, um, she is a sub supervisor at the Aldi warehouse in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. And she's done that my whole life. She started working there shortly after I was born. And then my dad, he's more of a hands on guy. He does. Like construction work, kinda like he's done masonry and work on houses. And then he's also a little bit of a mechanic. He can do some stuff with cars. So overall, he's just a handy guy.

LM: Sure. So you were talking about how it was predominantly white in the neighborhood. Can you describe the makeup of your immediate family?

AR: Yeah, so um, both my parents are 100% Mexican, they're both born in Texas. So my whole family, we're all Mexican. Um, it was weird, because there's no one else really that lives around us. That is a minority. I think like the closest 00:03:00houses maybe down the street when there's another family. And it's, it's quite a while. So yeah. Not a lot of diversity where I come from.

LM: How did it feel going to school there?

AR: Um, yeah, so it is weird, because I was always the, not odd one out, but everyone else was the same in class. And I was the only minority for the most part. It. I never felt like I was discriminated against or anything. So that was good. But I definitely could tell that things were different.

LM: Okay, so when you did start thinking about going to college, was it a given in your household? And what was the highest education that your parents had?

AR: Yeah, so personally, for me, it was a given because I always just thought that after high school, I want to further my education, I've always thought about being a teacher. So I needed high school, or a college education for that. My parents never pushed for school beyond high school, both of them their 00:04:00highest education is a high school diploma. So their option was either you go to school, or you work, you can do one or the other, or both, or whatever, but you're either going to school or work, you're just not going to do anything. I am the first in my family to go to a four year. So um, like, that was kind of weird, because none of my brothers, they'd gone to technical and they didn't finish it out. So there's still a lot of questions and concerns I had about going to college. But yeah, so it was never a given that I went. It was just kind of what you wanted to do, and they would support you either way.

LM: And what did your parents think about you being the first to go to a four year college?

AR: Yeah, so we are very family loving in our household and I think the longest time I've ever spent away from My parents was on a vacation with a friend. And 00:05:00that was only maybe a week max. So they were worried for me because they didn't want their little girl to leave the house. And they were also excited because they knew, like, this is what I wanted to do. And, again, they'll support me for anything I choose. So yeah, overall it was excitement, but also worry because I was just leaving.

LM: Yeah. So why did you choose to go to Oshkosh then?

AR: I'm not really sure on the exact reason I chose Oshkosh. I had heard about it before, just through people that had chosen to go here. And it's kind of like, oh, maybe. I was always in between UW lacrosse or UW Oshkosh. And then it came down to senior year where we actually had to start, you know? Well, applying that too, but just really thinking about where we want to go. And I thought long and hard. And I was like I can barely be away from my family for how long? How am I going to live three hours away if I went to lacrosse. So the 00:06:00distance of Oshkosh was really important for me, because it's just an hour and 10 away, and just straight shot. So going home is very easy for me to do. And I think that was the most important part. And also, I had just heard great things about it. So I was really excited to come here.

LM: Nice. So moving on to the early days of COVID at the beginning of the spring semester and 2020. Where were you in your schooling?

AR: Yeah, so I was a senior in high school still finishing up my last semester of high school.

LM: Okay, and what was the first thing you remember when you heard about COVID?

AR: Yeah, so the first time I remember hearing about COVID was back in February, I was at a high school basketball game, and I believe it was either like a regional or sectional. It was one of the important games. And it was halftime and kids are just talking, you know, and someone mentions COVID. And they start 00:07:00talking about how this virus is deadly, like it can do terrible things to people. And I was just confused, because I'd never heard of it. So I went in and looked it up. And I saw a video of a COVID patient, I was so scared because like, I didn't know what this was. I didn't really think much of it because it had been only really in China. And that I don't know if there were any known cases in the time in the US, but it was nowhere close to me. So I wasn't too worried about it. But then the next time I really heard about it was when Tony Evers, the governor, was giving his speech about sending like, if they were going to send children home for like a little break. And I was in my math class at that time when he gave that announcement.

LM: Okay, so what were your feelings when he gave that announcement about, you know, things possibly shutting down? Where were you living? And you know, when 00:08:00everything did shut down? How did you feel about it?

AR: Yeah, so since I was a senior in high school, I was living at home with my parents in Sussex. Um, my initial reaction, when he told us that we would have just a couple days off of school, you know, was, 'oh, this is awesome. Like, I can just relax for a little bit, you know, just be at home, do some stuff'. I had never expected a couple of days to turn into the rest of the semester. So that was weird. Um, my reaction to everything shutting down was, I wasn't angry. But I was like, upset because, you know, there's not really much you can do if everything's shut down. And I was also just kind of confused, because, you know, we had never been through this before. It's all new for everyone. So there was just a lot of confusion in that.

LM: So how would you describe your feelings about the disease itself?

AR: Yeah, so overall, I feel like I've come to terms with it now. But at the 00:09:00beginning, it was something I worried about, because I didn't know much about it. But now that I do know more about it, I'm starting, not that I feel comfortable with it, but I know how to handle it. So in that sense, I do feel comfortable with it. Yeah, overall, I just don't like it because of how many things it has ruined for everyone.

LM: Yeah. Were there any people in your home that were affected by COVID? Were you affected by COVID?

AR: Yeah, so I never was personally affected by COVID. But in December of 2020, my father and my grandmother both contracted the virus. And they were the only two in our household with like, underlying health conditions that we were really concerned about. So that was really scary at first because we didn't really know what was going to happen. you know how their body was going Gonna take it.

LM: So how sick did they get then?

00:10:00

AR: Yeah, so my grandma was worse than my father. She actually ended up. My mom took her to the hospital, because she had just been so, like she was in bed all the time, she couldn't really move. My mom is her caregiver. But like her caregiving, it like started going way up, like my mom had to bring her everything to her bed, like she really couldn't move to the point that she lost like, not her function, but she was so used to not walking for a while that her legs became so weak. And after she recovered, she had to start physical therapy, just to gain that strength back. So that was really scary. Because when my mom had told me that, you know, dad and grandma have it, I was worried about my father as well. But obviously I am more concerned over my grandmother because she's old and fragile. And then, yeah, she had called me again saying that she 00:11:00was going to take her to the hospital. And that really hit me hard. I just broke down in tears. I went to my roommate and started crying, like, it just wasn't a good feeling at all. But my father, his symptoms were more like a common cold. So he took it really well. And my mother was the main caregiver of both of them.

LM: Okay, so did your grandma have to go on a ventilator at all?

AR: Yes. So in the hospital, not that I know, my mom never mentioned a ventilator. They just took good care of her. She was there for I believe, two or three nights before she was able to get sent home. And then after that, still, my mom had to like 24 hours care service for her.

LM: Sure. How did your mom take care of her then if she had COVID And your mom had to make sure she didn't get COVID?

AR: Yeah, so since my dad and my grandma both had it, my mom was the main caregiver. Um, she just did what she had to. She wore a mask when she had to be 00:12:00around them. And she kept her distance, but some things like if she's trying to give her food, she needs to go a little closer. She doesn't have that much movement. So my mom actually never contacted the virus, even though she was caregiving, the both of them. So that's just something crazy.

LM: Yeah, that's good. Let's see. So how were the COVID protocols dealt with when you were at home done? Like masking and social distancing?

AR: Yeah, so we followed the protocols that were given to us. So we did do the stay at home order and quarantine. We all did have to work beside my father. He does his like they're like side jobs. Like he goes to people's homes and does them. So he couldn't really do that during that time. So yeah, we all went to 00:13:00work and stuff, but we did fall protocols like masking and staying at home other than work. If stores required it we did wear masks. But yeah.

LM: Okay. So you mentioned that your dad did get COVID but he didn't get as sick. So what were his symptoms? And what was that like?

AR: Yeah, so his symptoms weren't as severe at all. They were very mild symptoms. At first they didn't really even know if he had it. They had to get a test anyway, so they, sorry, they both had contacted it from my uncle, he had come over to our house. He has no idea how he got it. But then he informed like my mom like, yeah, I got it. You all should get tested. And then that's when we found out about my grandma, my dad. But yeah, my dad's symptoms weren't bad. They were cold like I think, maybe the worst of it was having a runny nose for a long period of time. A common thing for COVID is like losing scent or taste. 00:14:00Neither of those happened to him, thankfully. So he was very lucky in the way that it hit him.

LM: So how did he deal with having to be off of work then? And how did you guys have to deal with all of that with being out of work?

AR: Yeah. So I think that was very hard for him because he is someone that likes to be doing stuff all the time. So being at home, he was kind of like, what do I do you know. And then, you know, Mom and Dad are kind of, once they're spending a lot more time together a little bickering starts a little bit more, you know, so that was just, I mean, I thought it was funny because I don't know, it's just funny when they fight. But yeah, that was hard for him, but we were able to like, my mom was able to keep up financially because, you know, everyone was going through a hard time with COVID There were a lot of reliefs and stuff that were given out. So we didn't really struggle financially with that.

LM: That's good. So since you were stuck at home with your family, guys spent a 00:15:00lot of time together, what were some of the challenges about being around them all that much? Or were you able to get out of the house when you needed to?

AR: So I just say some of the biggest challenges were just trying to find some space and time to be alone because everyone's in the house. They're all trying to do their own thing too. But I'd say like, yeah, the biggest thing was trying to find space to be alone. I could only do that if I went into my room. But then still, you have people yelling, like, 'Ali come out of your room', you know, it's like, 'no, I just want to be myself'. Um, another challenge was just, personally before COVID I was always the type of person that just goes out and be with my friends all the time, I wasn't really much of a homebody. So changing from being someone that always went out to now being a homebody was something that I had to come to terms with. But now I love it so much. So. Yeah.

00:16:00

LM: Nice. So what were your feelings about finishing your high school senior year online? And what did you find most challenging about it? What did you miss out on?

AR: Yeah, so I was really sad when I had heard that we'd be finishing our semester online. Just because I knew I'd never step foot in that building again, like when we got sent home, like that was my last like, day of high school. So it was really sad, because I never got like the closure I always thought I would get or I honestly think I needed it because it's just, you know, part of life. But yeah, so I was just really overall sad about that. And the most challenging thing was not getting, like, having the chance to say goodbye to everyone. Like, some of my friends like they're school friends, and you really just see them at school. And now we're all going our separate ways. So it was, it was just sad. I 00:17:00did like, miss out on some of like, the big events like the last dance, that was something that really hit me hard, just because I love dances and getting ready with my friends. So I was sad. But I was able to have a graduation, that was just postponed, and it was moved outside. So we were able to, you know, have it. And then we were also, normally we could have four people invited. Because of COVID we could only have two people. So that was just my parents. But yeah.

LM: Okay. So prior to COVID how excited were you about going to college and living away from your parents and having your own dorm room?

AR: Yeah, I was so excited before COVID. Just because I had always been the one that like, 'Yeah, I'm going to college. Like it's going to be so fun. Like, oh, I'm gonna make memories, lots of new friends, all this stuff'. And I always 00:18:00thought like living away from my parents would be very scary. But I still was ready for like the challenges that I was going to bring and like the fun new adventures.

LM: Yeah. So how did the pandemic affect the way that you were preparing for college life? Did you still want to go? Were you worried about it?

AR: Yes, I was very worried about going just because I wasn't sure about how COVID would be handled here and how like, quote-unquote normal it would be to like go to college. My biggest fear overall is that we get sent back home at some point, just like if cases rose or whatever. I had already missed out on my senior year, like finishing my senior year of high school. I didn't want my freshman year of college to be totally ruined too. So that was the biggest thing. I still wanted to go just because I didn't want to push back my plan I 00:19:00had for myself. So I figured I'd just go and make the best of it. So yeah,

LM: Cool. So with everything that happened, and you know how quickly it was all coming and how quickly it was all happening. How are you feeling emotionally? And did you do anything about it? And how are the people around you? How are they doing?

AR: Yeah, emotionally I think overall there's just a lot of confusion. But I learned like how to channel that confusion, like something like you know, just come to terms with it. I just like to keep myself distracted and not really think about COVID itself. You know, just keep trying to carry on with life even though you couldn't really do everything you normally would like going out. Around me a lot of people felt the same way. A lot of my friends felt very isolated just because we did see each other a lot and that was a big change for 00:20:00them. But yeah.

LM: Okay. So did you have any jobs during this time? And can you tell me what they were and how they were affected? Or if you didn't have one, did you worry about getting a job?

AR: So during this time, I was employed at cousin subs, which is just a sub place in Sussex. And I did work throughout the whole pandemic. Since I was fast food I was deemed essential, I guess so I did have to work. We did start to follow COVID protocols like having the plexi windshield between you and the customer. And then our dining room was closed, so no one could eat in. The restrooms couldn't even be used. Sanitation went up. So everything was getting wiped down, at least on the hour. A lot of like the orders were now starting to be either through drive thru or placed online. You didn't see as many people 00:21:00coming in, so that was different. But yeah, it did change. And business wasn't as booming as it was, because there wasn't as many people out there.

LM: How did you feel about being considered an essential worker?

AR: Yeah. So I felt special because I'm like, I am like the one providing these people with food for their family. You know, so I had to do what I had to do.

LM: So you were still at home during this time?

AR: Yes.

LM: So why did you choose to get a job?

AR: Yeah, so I continued working because I needed money to spend, some spending money. My parents just don't give me money. If I want to buy something I have to, you know, do it myself. I wasn't worried about working because I am younger. I do think my health is greater than most, well, not most people but like older 00:22:00people. So I wasn't worried about that. And I knew I'd take proper precautions to like, prevent it. So.

LM: Okay, so how much were you getting paid?

AR: Yeah, at the time, I believe I was getting paid $10. I'm trying to think, yeah, maybe $10, which wasn't bad. And I had just been recently promoted to like training and stuff. So.

LM: Okay, and how many hours were you working too?

AR: Yes. So since I was still in school, I was a part time and I think I worked maybe 15 to 20 hours a week.

LM: So do you think that it was worth the risk?

AR: Yeah, I do believe it was worth the risk, just because I knew I was doing everything I could to prevent it. And I know that life does go on. Yeah, and I still needed money. I still like have college to pay for. Yeah, I couldn't just 00:23:00not, I couldn't afford to not work. So I did what I did.

LM: Okay. So if you're willing, can you tell me about how COVID did affect your family financially, then? And, you know, you said you had to pay for school? So was that affected at all?

AR: Yeah. So, um, financially it affected us because my father wasn't working. He was unable to, like, have as many jobs as he would have, if he. And actually that was hard, because as the weather starts to get nicer, more opportunities open up for him, because during the winter, it's much slower for him. So that was hard. But like I said, like a lot of companies and stuff had reliefs and they were understanding of COVID. So there was never a point where we were worried about like, losing our house or anything like that. But yeah, we all just like continued to work, And for college, I wasn't too worried just because 00:24:00I knew there was like, a lot of understanding because of COVID. But yeah.

LM: Did you worry about your family's health at all, when you were getting ready to leave?

AR: Yes, I was very concerned about their health, especially of my grandmother and my father, because they were the ones with the underlying health conditions. But just for me, I really believe that you just, you do whatever you can that is in your control, and as long as you're doing that, like that's the most you can do. So I was always worried but I knew that I would do what I needed to do to keep them healthy. So.

LM: How is your dad and how's your grandma now?

AR: Yeah, so they both are doing way better than they had been. My grandma, I believe like since COVID, like it has a lasting impact on her because she isn't 00:25:00as mobile as she was before. And because she had to kind of relearn how to walk. Sometimes you can tell she's scared to still because just, she was weak, really weak at one point. And I think that scared her a lot. So walking sometimes does scare her and she walks with, like, not correctly, like a little limp or whatever. My dad, he is fully recovered as well. And yeah, they're both doing well and quote I guess back to normal.

LM: Okay. So did you have any friend groups or any romantic relationships before COVID that were affected? And how did you stay in contact with anybody?

AR: Yeah, so I did not have any romantic relationships. But I did have my friend 00:26:00group, which is my closest friend group. It was about two guys and three girls, including me. We have a group chat that we text in, so that was mainly how we kept in contact, and also just other forms of social media. Since like, we were able to get out to go to the store or whatever. One thing my one friend Danielle and I would do was just meet each other at the store. If we both had to do grocery shopping for our family, we would just kind of do it together. That way, we could still see each other but you know, do it correctly, I guess.

LM: Did you ever experience, you know, a time where you couldn't hang out with them? Because somebody had to quarantine? Or maybe you couldn't hang out with your family either? And how did it make you feel?

AR: Yeah, so it made me feel sad, because I love seeing people. I love talking to people. There were some times when some of my friends were like, 'Oh, I might have been in close contact with someone like I have to quarantine'. At first it 00:27:00was a little scary because I don't want my friends to get sick either. But everything was okay for the most part.

LM: What did you do for fun before the pandemic then? And what about after?

AR: Yeah, so for fun before the pandemic, a lot of it was just like going out and doing stuff, whether it was grabbing something to eat or going shopping or you know, maybe going bowling or something like that. During the pandemic, I couldn't do that. So the stuff I did was maybe like little hobbies like making friendship bracelets or watching TV. I did start doing yoga, which was nice, because I love yoga. And now things are starting to open back up so you can do a little bit more than you could before, like going out to eat and even go 00:28:00bowling. Yeah, a lot of the bowling alleys are open. So yeah, it was just, you know, trying to find something at home to do to make life fun.

LM: Was there anything that you were part of like a club or any sports or volunteering or maybe any other activities that you were part of? And did they change at all? And how did that make you feel?

AR: Yeah, so in high school, I was involved in a Spanish honor society. That didn't really change other than like stuff got moved online. But that did make me feel sad again, because I do like the in-person like personal connection. So that was sad. But yeah, no other activities or anything.

LM: Okay, so did you get to meet any new people on campus?

AR: Um, yeah, so I did meet some new people. It was hard because I don't know, 00:29:00masks are intimidating. So I can't just walk up to someone and start talking to them, especially when I can't see their whole face. So it was hard to meet people but I was able to meet people just mostly on my floor of my dorm.

LM: Okay, so moving into the fall of 2020. When you learned that Oshkosh, UW Oshkosh was returning to in person classes for the fall 2020 semester, what was your reaction?

AR: I was excited. I was really excited because the last of my senior year was online. I hated online in the beginning just because it's so hard to balance your schoolwork with, like, being at home there's so many distractions you can find. And I'm better taught when someone's in front of the classroom lecturing at me instead of behind a screen when they don't really have too much authority over me because I'm also hidden behind the screen, being able to do what I want. So I was very excited that there's gonna be in person classes. I think that was 00:30:00probably the biggest thing for me to come to college because I didn't want to go to UW Oshkosh, if I was going to be 100% online in my dorm. So that was like a major, just impactful decision for me to be like, 'Yes, I'm going to come to Oshkosh and live on campus and do school here'.

LM: Okay, so what was your vision of what your freshman year was going to be like, before COVID? And what was it actually like when you got here?

AR: That is a great question. Um, before COVID I honestly just thought, you know, college was gonna be your typical American teenage college experience going wild, you know, going out all the time, you know, staying up late or whatever. It was not like that at all. Because everything or most of the things were shut down. So a lot of the time was spent in my dorm. I didn't really go 00:31:00out on the weekends, I just stayed in my dorm or went home. So that was really different. I thought, like, all my classes would be in person. I never envisioned a life online. But that was different because, my first semester half of my classes were in person, half of them were online. And then second semesters, majority online and just a couple in person. So yeah just like a lot of things like that. And I never thought I'd have to wear a mask to go to school or social distance or anything like that, which I did have to do. We all had to wear masks, and we all had to sit at least one seat apart from each other. So we could, you know, practice social distancing.

LM: So that semester, UW Oshkosh chose to offer some classes in person, but most of them were online. What did you choose to do in this new reality? And why was 00:32:00it at that time that that was the best choice for you? Did you feel that it was the right choice now?

AR: Yeah, so I chose this. I actually tried to get like the most I could of classes online. Or in person, my bad. So like, when I was scheduling, if a class was offered in person, and online, I would choose in person rather than online, I do believe that was the best choice for me. Because online learning is very hard, you have to have a lot of motivation and self discipline for it. And it is something that I do struggle with. So I just thought being in person would hold me more accountable, because I have to, you know, get up and get ready and actually go to class to learn. Yeah, but overall, I believe it was the right decision for me.

LM: Okay. How did you feel about the COVID protocols that were placed at UWO, 00:33:00like the masking and the testing for those people living in dorms, or maybe being put in quarantine because you had COVID, or close contact?

AR: Yeah, so since I did live on campus, I did have to get tested weekly. And at first, that was a little weird, but then I actually enjoyed it. Because I started to get tested. Like, whenever I knew I was gonna get home, I made sure to schedule my tests, either that day or the day before, just so I would ensure I wasn't bringing the virus back home. And the masking that was in place, overall, like if it's my choice, I don't want to wear a mask, because, yeah. But um, I do, like follow rules, obviously. So if masks are required or if someone wants me to wear a mask, I'm going to be respectful of that. But it is hard to, 00:34:00you know, like, I'm a person that smiles when I'm walking past someone and that's hard to do with the mask. So I just, you know, look kind of mean, I or at least I think so. And then also about the quarantining, yeah, that was hard because if you were in close contact with anyone, say even the kid that sat like two seats away from you in class, you could be put in quarantine. So my roommate actually got put in quarantine. My roommate tested positive for COVID 19, at the beginning of second semester, Spring 2021. So it was yeah, my freshman year, second semester, and she tested positive. We got the call that she had to go to Gruenhagen. And when you do test positive you did have the option to go home and quarantine and self quarantine? Or you could self quarantine at the, what is 00:35:00called like the COVID Halls, which was Gruenhagen here in Oshkosh. And so she went to Gruenhagen. And she hated it so much. But since I did live with her, I did have to quarantine. I did not go to the COVID Halls, because I knew that would not be a good time. And my parents were comfortable with me coming home just because I would be in my own room. And I would be by myself. So I did go home to self quarantine then.

LM: Okay. Did she feel that she couldn't go home? And that's why she stayed there?

AR: Yeah, so she was worried about going home. And I understand that. It's very understandable. So she just went to the conference center, Gruenhagen, she actually was COVID positive for about. So you had to quarantine for 14 days, if you tested positive, she only had to quarantine for like two because she had 00:36:00been COVID positive for that much longer. And she didn't know until she had gotten her tests for that week. And then she found out on that Friday she got it, and then she got to return back to her normal dorm. We lived in Evans Hall. On either Sunday night or Monday morning, so she was barely in quarantine. I did have to quarantine for 14 weeks, or not 14 weeks, 14 days from that Friday. So I was out for longer.

LM: Because you didn't have the symptoms?

AR: Yeah.

LM: Okay. So you talked about getting tested every time you went back to make sure that you didn't bring it back to your family. How did you feel about when the vaccines were coming out? And they were free? And how did your family feel about that?

AR: Yeah, um, so we just think it's overall, it's nice for people if they want it. Right now, we're all okay without it. That doesn't mean we won't change our 00:37:00decision. But yeah, I really like that it's able for people to get it, you know. Obviously, it does work or help, at least, so it's very nice. The discussion in the family, I guess we kind of all just had our own opinions on it. But they all just seem to be similar. So yeah. As for like, my grandma, it was kind of her choice. And she didn't really find a need either. So I mean, that's her choice. Just kind of have to respect that. And so yeah, we just, yeah, I just made sure I got tested and, you know.

LM: Followed the other protocols.

AR: Mhmm

LM: So how was living in the dorms? And what dorm Did you live in during COVID?

AR: Yeah, so I lived in Evans Hall my freshman year. And living in the dorms was 00:38:00weird. Just because of the protocols we did have to follow, because of COVID. We did have to wear our masks in the hallways, masks going to the bathroom. The hardest part was putting a mask on after a shower. I hated that because, I don't know, just putting a mask on makes me feel dirty again, you know. But we also. So normally, the limit of people in your room would be ten. So four people for each room, or for each person living in the dorm. Because of COVID, you were only allowed to have one other person. So there could only be four people in the room at all times. That was hard, because you know, you want to hang out with everyone, but you can't because you're going to make a lot of noise, you're going to get in trouble or whatever. And then also, like in the lobbies, masks had to be worn. I mean, you did have to keep a good distance between people as well. So yeah, living in the dorms was a little weird.

00:39:00

LM: Okay. And what about when you were moving in? Did your parents come and help you move into the dorms? And you know, what was that like when they were helping you to get set up? Were you excited? And what was it like when they left?

AR: Yeah, so um, moving into the dorms, there was like a procedure we had to follow because of COVID again. Um, we're only allowed, or we were supposed to limit the amount of guests that we brought and it was supposed to be like immediate family only. Um, I did. Just my parents came so it was my mother and my father who helped me move in. And moving was chaotic, just because moving is just always chaotic. But when you add in like all these people like trying to, you know, not be in contact with each other and stuff It adds more chaos. Um, saying goodbye was really sad just because I was really, really scared. You 00:40:00know, I hadn't been without them. Like, living on my own ever actually. So it was scary at first and sad because I didn't want them to leave. But you know, it had to happen. We, you know, we grow up, we have to do our own thing. But yeah.

LM: So you talked a little bit about your roommate. What was that like? Did you guys get along?

AR: Yeah, so we did get along. My roommate is actually like a lifelong friend of mine. We met each other in third grade through Girl Scouts. And we've just been best friends since. So the living situation was nice, because I knew her and we were both comfortable with each other. A lot of people and their roommates like they both just live there, and like that's kind of it. But my roommate and I, we kind of coexist, like, we set up our room like a hangout area you know. Both of 00:41:00our beds lofted, a futon under one the TV under the other, you know, trying to make it more homey. A lot of things we do that most people don't do is like we share our garbage, we share our dishes, like we're both putting in work. So yeah, we like, manage things together. So the living situation was really nice. I wasn't ever worried about that.

LM: That's good. So what were your thoughts about campus dining? Because for a very long time, we couldn't eat together. So what was that like?

AR: Yeah, so campus dining was very different when you looked at it. Because yeah, there's a lot of protocols we had to follow. Um at Blackhawk, there's these like, at first you could not eat in the dining hall actually. There were these green to-go containers and you'd just fill those up with whatever food you wanted. And then you got sent back to your, or you just had to go somewhere else to eat essentially, you couldn't eat in the dining hall. So now it's rough, 00:42:00because you know, the food got cold by the time you got back to your dorm, like no one really wants to do that. But then as the semester went on, they did start to open up the dining room. So that was nice. But still, you couldn't eat with all your friends because there was a certain amount of people that could only sit at a table. And you would like, get yelled at if there's a two person table and you know, you brought a chair over you couldn't do that. So that was horrible. Because you know, you want to eat with everyone, or whatever. So yeah, I didn't really like the campus dining because I couldn't eat with everyone. But then also, I just started to like, think about it this year, like, I kind of do miss it as well because Blackhawk was not nearly as busy as it is now. And you go into Blackhawk now and I kind of like, get nervous just because there's so 00:43:00many people. But yeah.

LM: So how did your interactions change with other people? Did you feel like you became less social?

AR: Yeah, so I definitely do believe I became a less social individual because of COVID. Before I would define myself, I still define myself as an extrovert just because I do like, gain a lot of energy talking to other people. But in a sense that I'm okay with not talking to new people too. Like, I'm alright, just being by myself. And I do think I became a little more socially awkward just because, like starting conversations with someone new just has become a lot harder for me to do. I don't know why. Maybe it's just because I didn't have a lot of interaction for a while.

LM:Sure.

AR: But yeah.

LM: So how did you feel that departments in the faculty did with this hybrid approach to education? Do you feel like you got a good education during that time?

00:44:00

AR: I do believe that I was still getting a good education just because a lot of the faculty and departments did whatever they could to ensure that if it was, you know, opening more office hours online to like, you could come and stop by and get some more help. Or, you know, they're very understanding about COVID. So let's say you got COVID and you emailed them, a lot of them are very understanding about that. And that was nice. So they did a really good job, you know doing whatever they could that was in their hands at handling it. And I don't regret it at all.

LM: So what changed in your daily routine during COVID?

AR: Yeah, so I say during COVID my daily routine changed as I became a lot more lazier. Because I wasn't really going out and going, being anywhere. So I was 00:45:00able to you know, just throw on some sweatpants, a hoodie, not really do anything. For online classes it's really easy for me to just, you know, roll out of bed, give myself like 10 minutes, brush my teeth, and you know, whatever, before I had to log in. And now it's we're in person again. So you really have to get ready a lot.

LM: Yeah, that's true. So how are your grades? Did you feel like you worried? Or did you have a hard time with your classes? You know, did you miss a lot? How was your college standing?

AR: Overall, my college standing was pretty good. It wasn't the best. Um, I did want it to be better, it wasn't what I had hoped for. But I still like, manage to get like, you know, good, passable, you know, good grades, enough to, you know, keep me wanting to keep going to school and stuff. Um, classes were hard online, especially each semester. I had an asynchronous class, which is just 00:46:00100%, online class that doesn't have a scheduled meeting time. So you kind of just do the work at your own pace. I'm really bad at those. Because again, I don't really have much self discipline or anything. So actually finding the courage to sit down and do that work was something that I found really challenging. But my other classes and grades were, they were pretty good. I I managed to get the work done.

LM: Yeah. So think about your second semester here now at Oshkosh, as a student, and how did your living and learning experience change from your first one to your second one?

AR: Yeah, so it's changed in the sense that I'm now like a sophomore in my first semester. Um, and all my classes are in person, I don't have a single, um, yeah, 00:47:00I don't have a single one online. So that's something that I really like. And my living experience has changed, because a lot of the COVID protocols have like, begun to get lifted. So I live in Fletcher Hall now. And as of maybe a little less than a month ago, they lifted the order that we had to wear masks in the hallways or going to the bathrooms. They are required still like, checking in at security stationary or in the lounges. But it's really nice to have that freedom to, you know, walk to the bathroom without a mask or, you know, come out of the shower without a mask on. So that's really nice, and just a lot. It's a lot more active and lively now in the dorms, you see a lot more people. And there is like, a lot more people living in the dorms now. So that's been really nice.

00:48:00

LM: Yeah. So in the fall of 2021, vaccines are now readily available on campus and in fact, strongly advocated by the administration and the CDC. So what were your thoughts about the VAX Up campaign that they did here to get students vaccinated to win sponsorships?

AR: Overall, I thought it was a really great program or campaign that they did just because, you know, it did encourage everyone to get that and there was a reward. And you know, a lot of people like, who doesn't want free money? So it was a really nice campaign because it actually did work, you know, you've reached our limit of 70% vaccination rate. So it was very effective in that way. Um, the only thing was that, yeah, it kind of did feel kind of weird that they're like trying to reward you for doing something I guess. But overall, I think it was great because they got what they wanted. So yeah.

00:49:00

LM: So how much do you feel things are getting back to normal now? And for that matter, what is normal to you? And what would school have to be like for you to call it normal?

AR: So I'd say things are pretty, not pretty much but for the most part going back to normal in the sense that we can all be together again. Um, you don't have to sit for classes, you don't have to sit one seat away from each other. A lot of people still don't, but you could if you wanted to. It's a lot more lively and active now. Last year you'd go to Reeve and there wouldn't be I mean, there'd be people there but there wasn't a lot and you go now and like every table is packed of people. Like it's kind of hard to find a place to sit. Yeah, We still have to wear masks, but actually as of today I did, we did get an email that you don't have to wear it in the Rec anymore, and also the library. So 00:50:00things are getting, things are changing for the better again. And so that's really exciting. For me for things to be considered normal again, it'd be like no masks, you know? Yeah, like I do. One thing I do like is that they do offer like, online now. Just because some people do prefer online. And that's just how they learn better is online. So if that is something that works for you, that's great. That's awesome that they have like, more of those options now. Especially like, when for people who need it. Yeah. For school to be back to normal? Yeah, just like no masks involved.

LM: Do you think that there are any parts about, you know, the COVID life at school that you don't think it's gonna go back?

AR: Yes. So I think just like the cleaning, maybe? I think a lot of people's 00:51:00hygiene has improved because of COVID. Definitely, a lot more people are aware of how many germs we actually, you know, have. So at least I hope that it won't change. I do like knowing that my classroom is wiped down whenever I'm using it. So.

LM: So what about you? Are there any aspects of yourself that you think COVID has changed for good? And how do you think this historical event might have changed you permanently?

AR: Yeah, um, so I think the biggest aspect of myself that has been changed for COVID is, I'm a homebody now. And I'm okay with that, I actually enjoy it now. Before COVID I'd always go out or had to be with somebody doing something. But now, I've always been a big family person, like, I love my family to death. I just guess I didn't really show it as much as I should have. Because I was 00:52:00always out. But now like, I love hanging out with my family, like, you know. I want to go do something, I'm asking my brother if he wants to go do it, you know. So it's just stuff like that, just being more family oriented than I was before and being okay with staying home. But then also, like I said, just like my social, you know, part of me has become a little less active. I do struggle a bit more making new friends because I don't really know how to I guess.

LM: So what was the hardest part about attending? UW Oh, during the pandemic?

AR: I think the hardest part was just always that uncertainty that at any point, you could be in contact with someone that had COVID. So that was just always scary, just because you never knew. And also for me, like I was always worried 00:53:00that we were going to get sent home. For a lot of universities, they did get sent home after Thanksgiving break. And they had to do the remainder online at home. Thankfully UWO did remain open and that is something that I'm very grateful for just because, you know, I didn't want to have part of my college experience cut off. So yeah, the hardest part was just COVID like the uncertainty of it.

LM: Do you have anything else that you'd like to add?

AR: No, no, I don't believe so.

LM: Okay. Well, thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate your contribution to the campus COVID stories at UW Oshkosh.

1-AllisonRuiz