Interview with Collin Laffin, 11/11/2021

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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SR: ​​This is Shaq interviewing Collin on Nov 11 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.

SR: First, could you please pronounce your name and spell it out for us.

CL: Collin Laffin

SR: Thank you. For the purposes of obtaining a good audio recording, please tell us again your name, year major and age

CL: Collin laffin, junior year, Biology major and I'm 20 years old

SR: Thank you so much. So Collin where did you grow up at, and what can you tell us about growing up and was it growing up in your hometown?

CL: I grew up in Wausau Wisconsin, so that's like the central Wisconsin area. I 00:01:00grew up in a [uhh] i went to [Wausau?] high school, which was one of the bigger high schools. I never really thought about going to college until my senior year and I applied to UWO and UW Milwaukee and I got into both of them and then decided to come here because of the Biology program and Biology masters program.

SR: Okay that's very interesting. So how did you like it when you got into UW Oshkosh because making a transition from Wausau to Oshkosh how was that for you?

CL: It was different because growing in Wausau you know a lot of people even if you don't go to the same school you play them in sports all the time and it's not quite as big as Oshkosh, Oshkosh is a little bit bigger, so it's a little bit different coming to a city with brand new people


[?] not really like having to start over and becoming friends with new people. Which is kinda different.

SR: Right. So campus covid stories since it is an oral collection of students and staff at Univ. of Wisc. Oshkosh at the time of covid so i want to ask you, um, where were you at the time when you heard about covid and lock down in general?

CL: Um, I was actually in my speech class freshman year, my professor told us that she had got an email that we were gonna be sent home for a while, we didn't know that we were actually going to be sent home. For good! For the year. She was saying she didn't know anything besides that you guys have to be outta here by Friday. You're supposed to take all the valuable school stuff with you, 00:03:00things that you think you would need but don't take everything because there's a possibility that you guys are coming back.

SR: Right, so when you heard that we were going to lockdown, what were your initial expectations or thoughts about the lockdown or what will be the outcome of the lockdown, what was going on in your mind?

CL: Um, I don't wanna speak for anybody else, but it kinda seemed like a lot of people I know were just, cuz it was right around spring break a lot people were just like, 'oh a longer spring break'. We don't really know what's going on or how bad COVID actually is because nobody really knew anything about it. But everybody was thinking oh we get to go home. Online school we don't have to go to class, we don't have to get up and it was just gonna be like a vacation of some sort.

SR: Right, so did you think about any plans that 'Oh COVID is happening so I might just move somewhere else' did you have any plans right after COVID happened?


CL: Um, not really because we weren't really told the severity of it or if we were planning on coming back to continue for the rest of the school year but that never happened. So no one really knew too much.

SR: Right, so when this sort of unexpectancy comes in life it's very normal and natural for some people to be anxious about or not knowing the unknown make anyone anxious about it. So were

you worried, anxious, excited or did you have a lot of ambiguous questions when all that stuff was happening at the same time.

CL: Yeah I mean I guess I was excited to go home because again it was like a big vacation what it seemed like but yeah you're always nervous and anxious when there's a virus or sickness that could potentially kill people, like my 00:05:00generation never really lived through anything like that and a lot of generations probably haven't. So you're kinda nervous, anxious you're wondering what's gonna happen next, how it's all gonna unfold you never really think how life changing it will be which it was.

SR: So how was life after,not after but during lockdown? Did you stay where you are, were you all by yourself, with your family, how was that with you?

CL: Yeah um, I went home to live with my parents and my brother. All of them still worked at the time my dad worked from home for a little while. But I was just sitting in my room most of the time doing my school work. Just doing basically what I had to do to stay out of everybody else's way coming from a 00:06:00college where I could have potentially gotten or had the who knows the virus already.?

SR: So where do your parents live again?

CL: In Wausau Wisconsin.

SR: So you went back to Wausau?

CL: I went back to Wausau

SR: How were you living there with your parents?

CL: UM, I lived there for the time being when I went home we came back to pick up all my stuff from school and then I went back to live with them again for the summer time until fall of 2020.

SR: Were you employed during that amount of time like after or before the lockdown were you employed?

CL: Yeah, I was employed in a factory from may until august of 2020 which was weird.

SR: So you were employed for the first year summer of lockdown. Did the lockdown 00:07:00COVID put any restrictions/any challenges or did it affect your employment during the summer?

CL: Yeah sort of, we had to wear masks at work obviously we had to get our temperatures taken, and in a factory is not all that fun because it's already hot during the summer time there. So kinda people were.. They were kind of aggravated already. So you could get on somebody's bad side very easily. If you do something wrong or something they're not the happiest because they're trapped behind a mask in a hot factory all day. And, like you're kind of scared to go out and maybe hang out with your friends or something because of like the 00:08:00lockdown wasn't set in place really aggressively then anymore but you're kind of scared to go out because you don't want to take COVID back to your work or not be able to work because you have COVID. You don't get compensated for it, so it was just kind of really different from past experiences working.

SR: Gotcha, that's very interesting. So, working at the factory did you personally experience any good or bad uh experiences with COVID being the factor?

CL: Um, I wouldn't say necessarily I did. Besides, like everybody's going through the same thing so you're not alone. You're not singled out because I was a college student coming from a bigger city but yeah.

SR: And you said you were afraid of hanging out with your friends and having a social life, because COVID did affect the social life of a lot of people in 00:09:00general. But how was your social life? Was there any part of your social life that existed out of your, uh, out of the house?

CL: Um, sometimes I would hang out with my really close friends because obviously we were both working and they would have to get tested once in a while I was getting tested every once in a while, they're getting their temperatures taken everyday so it was I wouldn't say on Godly safe but it was safe enough to hang out with people but otherwise I would just like facetime with my other friends and people I knew from Oshkosh and such.

SR: Um, so, just going to take a different track from here. Did you pick up any hobbies during the lockdown?

CL: Yeah actually. During lockdown I actually bought a motorcycle and I got my 00:10:00motorcycle license because I just felt it was a way to get out of the house and being able to do something fun rather than sitting inside and its more fun than driving a car somewhere I could just go out and ride around and not to worry about anything but look at sight seeing. Having fun!

SR: Nice! What kind of motorcycle did you get?

CL: It is a Suzuki DR350

SR: That's a good one!

CL: Mhmm

SR: Um, do you still drive around on that bike?

CL: Yeah I do.

SR: Nice, do you take it on highways?

CL: Um, it's kind of cuz it's kind of a street legal dirt bike kind of situation. So it doesn't go super fast, I'd go on a highway for short distances but not for very long.

SR: Gotcha, so did the lockdown affect your relationships with your parents, friends, significant other? Do you have any significant others?


CL: Um, I actually did at the time. I was just really hitting it off with this girl right before COVID started. And she lived around Milwaukee and we would, she would occasionally come up to visit me and I would do the same for her. But once COVID started, once COVID got really serious, we stopped hanging out and then she ended up transferring somewhere else and it just ended up not working out.

SR: So how did you take that as a.. Like how did you take that?

CL: It was just more or less a learning experience, because you never know what can get in the way of a relationship. Even if it's a deadly virus that came out of nowhere but I don't know its a

you live and you learn, it wasn't my fault or her fault it was just things 00:12:00happened to where, things happened that neither one of us could control and we decided that it would've been better to go on our separate ways.

SR: Okay so, um, when did you come back to college?

CL: I came back in fall of 2020.

SR: Fall of 2020..

CL: Yep

SR: How did you feel about, um, was it all remote at the time or was it in person?

CL: Um, most of the classes were remote, but I would like an occasional lab in person.

SR: So how was.. I want you to tell me what did you like and NOT like or dislike about classes being fully remote, fully online versus when you got back to campus when it was a hybrid version, like some of your classes were fully 00:13:00remote, fully online and some were in person like your labs?

CL: Um, One of the things that I really liked about online was that you could kind of structure your schedule around your classes rather than having your [?] but you had more freedom of what you wanted when you wanted. Rather than being in person where you would have to go to class and kind of work everything around that. But another thing that I liked about being in person is that you had better connections with your teachers, you could get help right away, you didn't really have to worry about emailing back and forth or trying to get into a zoom meeting and internet problems. Um, but when we came back, to the hybrid, it was kind of nice because instead of having to go from class to class to class you had that occasional [?] you could come back to your room. Go to a class, maybe 00:14:00relax a little bit, and then you wouldn't have to be on such a strict schedule all the time.

SR: Right, Uh, so during the time, did you have any people, friends, family, supporting you financially, morally, and just like being there for you during the lockdown because during the

lockdown it was a very tough situation for a lot of people so I'm just trying to ask you how was it, was it better or worse for you and did you have people to support you in class, out of class?

CL: Yeah um, I did have a lot of people supporting me, it just I feel like everybody kind of supported everybody because everybody was in the same situation especially being here in Oshkosh everybody's dealing with being cooped up in a dorm having all the time to wear a mask inside it's all things that 00:15:00nobody really want to do but I feel like a lot of people found the joy in actually being able to do that. But yeah, family really helped a lot, even though nobody wants to be doing school the way we are doing it. My parents really pushed me to keep going, not stop, because they're from believers that if you stop going to college you would never go back. So I really gotta thank them for pushing me to come back because nobody really wants to be in the situation that we were in, being cooped up, locked up, having to wear a mask, having to get tested all the time. It was a tough situation.

SR: So it sounds like, your parents were a big influence and uh big support for you in your life, um, what would say about them was so inspiring about for you during the lockdown situation?

CL: Um, well instead of them telling me that I should just stay during the 00:16:00summertime instead of them saying no, you should stay here, you shouldn't get a job, it's not what you should do. If you want to get a job, you should get a job because that's what you want to do. Not that they were trying to make me do something that I didn't want to do or that they were putting me in harm's way. But they were kind of just allowing me my freedom and wanting me to stay in touch rather than cooing[?] myself up. And then when I came back to school obviously they wanted me to stay tight with protocols and not end up getting COVID or not take it with me when I go visit them at home. But they still want me to stay in good touch with friends and continue with college no matter how hard it is no matter what conditions there are. So yeah.

SR: So do you visit your parents often, even right now?


CL: What's that?

SR: Um, do you visit your parents often, even like it's, we're not, like, uhh, at the heart of lockdown but there are loose restrictions, the mandate is not like it was before. So do you go back and forth and visit your parents often because you kind of seem close with the support they provide you which is very nice, and you seem kind of close so.

CL: Yeah, I do. Probably once a month, once every other month just because they never really had a kid that went to college before and I'm the first person in my family to go to college so, it's kind of tough for them for somebody not around in the house and they always wanna know how I'm doing and how's school is going so we stay in contact. Calling each other, and texting a lot to make sure 00:18:00that we're both well. So yeah.

SR: Do you have any siblings?

CL: Yes, I have one older brother.

SR: And you're the only one that went to college?

CL: Yep

SR: What does your older brother do?

CL: Um, he is a carpenter so he builds houses for a living.

SR: Gotcha, is he in Wausau?

CL: Yep, he lives in Wausau.

SR: Nice. Are you close with your brother?

CL: Yeah, very close.

SR: That's awesome!

CL: Umm, I don't think so.

SR: Okay, well. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate your contribution to the campus COVID stories at UW Oshkosh.

CL: Thank you!