Interview with Ene Priscilla Idoko, 12/02/2021

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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MM: This is Michelle Miller interviewing Ene Priscilla Idoko on December 2, 2021, for Campus Covid Stories. Instructor Grace Lim is also with us. 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.

MM: First, Could you please pronounce your name and spell it out for us?

EI: My name is Ene Priscilla Idoko, E-N-E P-R-I-S-C-I-L-L-A I-D-O-K-O, but I go by Priscilla.

MM: Okay. For the purposes of obtaining a good audio recording, please tell us your name, year and major, and age.

EI :My name is Ene Priscilla Idoko. My major is economics with a minor in African American Studies and I am 19.

MM: Can you tell me about where you grew up?

EI: I grew up in the capital city of Nigeria. It's called Abuja. It's a pretty 00:01:00big city so I'm used to the urban big city life.

MM: Can you tell me about your parents? What do they do?

EI: My dad, he's a district manager at a bank in Nigeria and my mother is a cake baker. She owns her own cake business and event decoration. So that's what they do.

MM: Did you always plan on going to college?

EI: Yes, I did. College was always in the plan.

GL: You said college was always in the plan. I mean, was there something that your parents already always impressed upon you that you should go to college?

EI: Yes. Growing up I already knew I was gonna go through primary school, secondary school and then go to college.

GL: Were your parents? I mean, did they go to college?

EI: Yes.

GL: What did they study?

EI: My father actually studied theater arts. I think he wanted to go into acting but then took the finance route. Then, my mother, she went to a polytech, that's 00:02:00what we call it back home.

GL: And then you talked about the city that you're from is fairly large, how big is it?

EI: It's about, I think 3 million people. Yes. Last I checked and might be a little off with my numbers, but it's a pretty big city.

MM: Why did you choose to go to Oshkosh?

EI: My father is part of something called the Rotary Foundation. It's like a nonprofit where they do charity work around different places. They did a trip to the US, they came to Wisconsin, specifically. So on that trip, they also got to see UW Oshkosh. So coming here, he saw the school for himself firsthand. Also in the foundation, he knows some people that work at this university. So seeing it firsthand, and also knowing people who work here he thought it would be a pretty 00:03:00good fit for me. So when he returned home, he asked me to apply and I did.

GL: When was this?

EI: This was in the summer of 2019.

MM: So what made you decide to go so far away from your home?

EI: To get a good education because there are good schools back home, but there's more opportunities for people that end up coming to the States to study.

MM: When was your first semester at UW Oshkosh

EI: Fall 2019.

MM: What was it like to leave your family?

EI: Well, it wasn't. It had its difficulties, but I went to boarding school for six years of my life. So I'm used to being away from home already. But this is the furthest I've been away from home for so long.

GL: When you said you were in a boarding school where was this?

EI: It was still in the same city like 30 minutes, 45 away from my house. But 00:04:00you won't get to see your parents until visiting days every now and then.

MM: What did you know about the US at the time when you?

EI: I've visited a couple times and I had an aunt that lived here. I know it's a different culture and stuff, but I've never actually lived for more than a month here.

GL: Where did you visit in America?

EI: I've been to Houston, New York. Atlantic City, Florida.

GL: So those are, those are pretty big places compared to UW to Wisconsin and Oshkosh. So again, when your dad came home and told you about UW Oshkosh, what did he say?

EI: What impressed him the most apparently was the library. He said, "wow, they have a really good library", and then he showed me pictures of the dorms and 00:05:00Reeve with the flags in the main area. Told me he likes the infrastructure and stuff.

GL: I'm just gonna say. So again, how old were you when he came home and told you about this?


EI: I was 16. When I came here, I turned 17.

GL: So you were 16-17 years old. And your dad came home and said, "Hey, I saw this great university in Wisconsin and I think you should apply." I mean, you're only a teenager what actually went through your mind?

EI: So actually, I was already going to college in Nigeria at a private school and after my one year, they started to think that I should study in the US instead. My aunt over here she was trying to convince my dad as well. So we were in the process of trying to transfer me but him going firsthand to see the 00:06:00school by himself was a big win. Most times you just do your research online and just see what the school has on their website that will win you over. But he was able to see it firsthand and that's what really pushed it for him.

GL: Again, you're traveling more than halfway around the world. I mean, were you excited? Were you a little scared? What? What tell us, describe how that felt as a as a teenager?

EI: Well, I have traveled alone by myself a couple of times. So it wasn't that scary. To be honest.

GL: But leaving your mom and dad, did you have siblings?

EI: No, I'm the only child. But I did leave a bunch of cousins back home. Yeah.

MM:So when you came to UWO what were your first impressions?

EI: I'm not gonna lie. I was like," wow, this is it, huh"? Where are the big buildings? I'm just looking at, you know, animals and land. I imagined it to be 00:07:00so much bigger. So that was my first impression. I do like that it's not such a big school. I like the size of the campus, it's not overwhelming.


MM: How is it different from your other college that you were at in Nigeria,

EI: One big difference is that my college in Nigeria was in a gated area. You couldn't really access the community like you'll need a special slip to go outside. So here, you know, it's just there's houses around and buildings around, it's just open into the community. That's one of the major differences I'd say.

MM: Can you describe your life on campus for the pre-Covid in the fall of 2019?

EI: Yeah, so it was me just trying to figure out living here and explore the campus and learn about my resources. It was still me trying to find myself here 00:08:00before COVID. Yeah.

MM: Were you able to maintain a social life?

EI: Yeah at that point I did start to make a few friends. It was still kind of difficult. But I did have, you know, a few people I could talk to and turn to.

MM: When did you first hear about COVID-19?

EI:t was in December, I'd heard some word in the news that there was this virus in China. But talking with my parents there were like, "Don't worry, it's, you know, you'll be fine, it's not where you are yet. So everything it'll blow over." So I did think it would blow over initially.

MM: When did you first begin to think that it might be more serious than you previously thought,

EI: The following semester, when, you know, we started hearing that it's now in the US and classes might have to get cancelled, and that was when it was starting to hit. Okay, this is more than just gonna blow over anytime soon.


MM: Okay, so then let's talk about the shutdown. Were you living in a dorm at the time?

EI: Yes, I was living in the Scots at that time.

MM: During the shutdown, how were the dorms impacted?

EI: Well, we heard that we had to move out. I started to think, what am I going to do? I do have an aunt in Houston. It's gonna be hard to go over there and do school from there. I did have a friend which I'm very grateful for. She said I could come stay with her and so I did. I was able to keep my belongings somewhere and just take what I really needed and I stayed with her.

GL: Where was this? Where is it? In Oshkosh?

EI: Yes, she lives here in Oshkosh.

GL: So it was in the house or apartment?

EI: An apartment.

GL: Was she a student

EI: Yes. She was a student here at that time.

MM: How did the two to three days of evacuation feel to you?



EI: It was kind of hectic, but I was like, "okay, at least I have my friend." It was two of us staying with her and like, Okay, we'll figure this out together if anything. My parent are so far away so all I can do is call them. But I just had to keep my head up.

GL: Did you call your parents when this whole thing came down?

EI: Yes, I explained to them the situation of having to evacuate, and going to Houston is not an option right now because I need to still be doing school. They understood and they spoke with my friend and they were like, "Okay, stay with her and just do what you need to do."

GL: Describe that. How long, when you got the email, everybody has to leave by I think the following weekend? Yeah. When was it decided that you were going to go stay with your friend? I mean, how long did that take?

EI: Maybe like, three, four days, because at first, I thought maybe I'd stay in 00:11:00the dorms. But I would have to move to a different dorm because whoever stayed behind they moved them to I think Gruenhagen.

GL: And then what did your parents say about all those?

EI: I guess it did take them by surprise a little bit because they also didn't think it would escalate this quickly. In December when I heard of it, they're like, "Yeah, it's gonna go away soon." But knowing that, you know, it was all going to change, like this was different, but they were reassuring. They didn't panic, so I didn't panic.

MM: Once you moved in with your friend, what was it like living with your friend?

EI: What we did was make a routine for ourselves. That's honestly the biggest part of getting through online school. You know, we said, "okay," we'd wake up like any other day, like, we were going to class, do what we needed to do in the morning, head to the dining area. That was our study space, we would sit there, 00:12:00do each class like, it would be impressive. Do homework after and then call it a day. Then do whatever activities we wanted in the house, but that was basically it.

GL: Your Roommates were they both students at UW Oshkosh?

EI: Yes.

GL: What were their majors?

EI: The one who had the apartment, she was a French major with a radio, TV film minor. Then the other one was in the College of Nursing.

MM: Did you work before the pandemic?

EI: Before the pandemic? Yes, I did. I worked as a, I worked at the Halsey Resource Center. I handled lab models and graded papers to students. That was what I did before COVID. When COVID happened, I kind of lost the job because 00:13:00there was no nobody there, there was no need for me.

MM: So if you're willing, can you tell me about how COVID affected your family financially, affected you financially?

EI: Yeah, losing that job, I just luckily had, a little bit of money, like very little saved. I was like, "Okay, if I need to get groceries or anything really serious, I would use that." But we were lucky that we had some people donate food to us and there was food drives that you could go pick up stuff.

GL: The food drives on campus, or was it somewhere else?

EI: It was off-campus.

GL: Was it that big truck thing?

EI: No, not that one. I forgot the name of where it was.

MM: So were you able to get any of the money that the government was giving out?

EI: No. What I did get was a little, the school was giving out like, I think $200 to students. Yeah, I was able to get that.



MM: So you talked about how you were doing your work online, what was the transition between in-person classes to online?

EI: It was hard because I mean, now we're all used to Zoom and Collaborate Ultra but then it was like figuring out everything was different, even SI. I used to go to SI for SIfor one of my classes and now it was online. They did their best to make it work, but it was very different, it took some getting used.

GL: What is SI

EI: Supplemental instruction like the extra help you get for classes like science classes.

MM: What were the differences between in-person classes and online?

EI: The major difference is that online you're teaching yourself because most times the professor just recorded videos of the material and posted that so even watching the video you have to try your best to make sense of it. In your head, 00:15:00it's not like they're explaining it in real-time. Or even like reading course material or whatever, you just being your own teacher, that's what I'd say was the big difference.

MM: Were the professor's helpful for you during this transition period?

EI: Yes, they honestly did their best, they tried to be as available as possible. Tried to be as lenient as possible with grading, knowing that, we were all struggling with this transition as well.

MM: Can you describe how you feel about online classes? Did they negatively or positively impact your education?

EI: It's more negative because there's just a big difference when you can interact physically and try to make sense of it in real-time. But doing it online, and, you know, it's, it's not great. But we still made it work. So I wouldn't say, you know, I really did bad.

MM: Were there any classes that were difficult for you to take, any specific ones?


EI: Geography became very difficult because the professor posted the videos of, it was different trying to just watch a video as regards to her explaining the material, showing us on the board with slides and things like that. So that was pretty difficult. I'd say, in math too.

MM: Did you have any lab classes?

EI: Yes, this geography class was a lab. So we had a lab booklet, and, you know, she would post the video with instructions on what to do, but still, like, I don't get it. We tried our best.

MM: So I know that you're an international student, how were you able to keep in contact with your family?

EI: Well it's the same thing, as it has always been, we have the apps, video call and stuff like that. So that didn't really change.

GL: How often would you talk to your family?


EI: Almost, I would call my mom everyday or every other day.

MM: Did anything change with your contact with your family? From the pandemic?

EI: No.

MM: What were the difficulties of being separated from your family?

EI: There's this feeling of loneliness every now and then especially here, people can go home on the weekends and eat home-cooked meals but that's almost impossible for me to do. Keeping that in mind is pretty difficult. But I'm a little bit used to it. But you know, it's still.

MM: Did you have any plans of going back and seeing your family before the pandemic started?

EI: I did want to go back before the pandemic started. But those plans, you know, quickly changed when everything started. Yep.


MM: During the pandemic, did you ever feel the need to go back to Nigeria?

EI: I knew that it would be very difficult to go at that time. And they didn't even want me to try to do that because there is a possibility that if I go I'll be stuck there and not able to come back. So I just put that off the table.

MM: Did you ever go back to Nigeria during the, just like, from Spring 2020 to now?

EI: Yes, I went home last December. So fall 2020.

MM: What was that like?

EI: It was amazing. It was probably the best holiday I've ever had, seeing everyone again after so long. It was really good,

MM: What was traveling like going on the plane?

EI: You have to be masked, you had to have a negative COVID test result. So that 00:19:00was the major thing. As long as you have your negative test results, you would be fine to go. And then when you get to Nigeria, you would also have to put your name down for testing as well before you can go back out.

MM: So what was COVID-19 or the isolation like in Nigeria? Was there any difference between the US and Nigeria?

EI: Well, as long as I had my negative test result, I actually did not have to isolate. Yeah.

GL: When you went home, I mean, how was that plane ride?

EI: It's over 16 hours. And there's two stops. one-stop in Chicago because there's no international airport here. So one stop in Chicago and then one stop in Germany with the airline I used and then I got to Abuja. It was a long, tiring, but it was worth it.

MM: How long did you stay in Nigeria?


EI: A little over a month? Yeah.

MM: Are any of your family members immunocompromised? Did you worry about them?

EI: No, I wasn't really worried about anyone. They were pretty much fine. Yes.

MM: How were the relationships with the people in your area during the pandemic?

EI: Well some places you have to be masked. So I did, I wore my mask to church, I wore my mask to big public spaces, but within your community, you don't have to wear masks. If I was meeting family at someone's house or something I didn't really have to be masked. So it was just more like going out in public.

MM: Okay, so then you well, we can talk about fall of 2020.

GL: Before that, so you went home that Winter interim term right?


EI: Yes

GL: The Fall of 2020

EI: Like 2019, December 2019, sorry 2020.

GL: But you spent Thanksgiving here?

EI: Yes.

GL: Okay. Ask her about the, yeah, the Thanksgiving. Did your dorm mates go home? I mean,

EI: Yes, it was just a few people. I don't know many people who are still around, but my roommate went home so it was just me.

MM: So you were living in the dorms in the fall of 2020?

EI: During Thanksgiving. Yeah, I did not go anywhere.

MM: What was it like celebrating Thanksgiving by yourself?

EI: It was not fun. But at the same time, I just used this as an opportunity to relax and not think about school for a while. Yeah.

GL: Describe the, you know, like when people are going home, right. I mean, what was going through your head? Were they excited about going even though we're still in the middle of COVID?


EI: Yeah, everyone wanted that opportunity to go home, see family and unwind for a little bit. But I just don't think too much into it because I know how difficult it is for me to go home. So I just don't put that in the front of my mind.

GL: And then what did you do for Thanksgiving dinner?

EI: So in Blackhawk, they served Thanksgiving so you would just go there and they would give you those to-go trays that they were using at that time and give you Thanksgiving food. Then you would take it back and eat wherever you wanted.

GL: How many people usually live on your floor in your dorm? Which dorm was it?

EI: North Scott there's usually a lot of people but at that time it was practically empty.

MM: So culturally, did you celebrate Thanksgiving before moving to the US?

EI: No, we don't celebrate Thanksgiving back home.

MM: So the fall of semester 2020 How are your classes? Were they all online? Or 00:23:00did you have some in person classes?

EI: Some were in person like very few or some were hybrid. Some days you would do it online, some days you could come in person but most were online.

MM: So when you first learned that UW Oshkosh was trying to do in-person classes, what was your reaction? Or that there would be some in-person classes.

EI: I was excited because I missed that. I was like, "Okay, this is a step to return back to normal."

MM: How did you feel about the COVID protocols that were in place, the testing requirements?

EI: I see that as the campus strongly trying to curb this and not put our students in jeopardy. So I was, it was tedious, but it was worth it. just to try to keep us safe and make being in person happen anyway.

MM: Did they make it easy for you to get tested on a regular basis?

EI: Yeah, you just set the appointment online on your phone and then go in so it 00:24:00was pretty easy.

MM: How was it living in the dorms? Did you move? I guess I should say did you move into the dorms after spring?

EI: Yes, I did. I came back into the dorms after we were allowed to return. It was good. You just had to be masked most of the time but in your own space, you could take off your mask.

GL: Did you stay in the United States? The summer? When I'm where are we now? The summer of 2020?

Yes, I went to see my aunt, that's after the semester where they sent us home. When we were done I did go to Houston to see my aunt there.

GL: But in the summer

EI: Yes

GL: It was still summer then you moved back to the dorm in the fall of 2020?

EI: Correct

MM: What were your thoughts about campus dining, not being able to eat with other people?

EI: It was interesting because you had to come in and get those to-go plates, go 00:25:00back return them. It was different. I kind of missed that bubbly dining life, sit with people, eat, talk, but we had to do what we had to do.

MM: Did your interactions with other people change? Did you become a less social person?

EI: I guess a little bit because you didn't really get to see people anyway. Everyone's like inside because classes are online. So it did kind of make campus quite dull, but at least we were still here.

MM: Were you able to maintain friendships? I guess maintain the friendships you had before? COVID?

[1]EI: Yes.

MM: What was the learning experience with the fall semester compared to the spring?

EI: I guess it was just trying to juggle the hybrid learning was the biggest 00:26:00thing. You go to class some days you do online some days. It was still like a transition.

MM: What was the campus like during fall of 2020? 2

EI: Mostly don't. Because even if you saw people we're all masked now. So you don't even really know who it is anymore. You're only seeing like their eyes up. So it was interesting, but, we just have to get used to it.

MM: How was your mental health doing all of this?

EI: I was doing okay, could have been better if the campus was more lively. And we had things the way it was, but you know I just had to make sense of the situation and just deal with it.


MM: Are you extroverted or introverted?

EI: I'd say I'm fairly extroverted. I mean but it takes a little bit to get me there. Like, I'm not the type that would just go around talking to people here and there, but once we make that initial first contact, then yeah.

MM: So how long did you stay in isolation? Or? I guess like, for the fall of 2020 were you isolated.

EI: No.

MM: How high was your anxiety about contracting Coronavirus?

EI: I mean, I knew like the school was doing its best and getting tested weekly. I wasn't too worried about it.

MM: Did you ever get Corona?

EI: No.

GL: Did you know anyone who contracted COVID?

EI: Yes.


GL: Somebody close to you?

EI: Yeah, a friend of mine did get it.

GL: Were their symptoms bad?

EI: For a while, like a high fever and stuff like that but she was fine at the end.

MM: Did any of your family members in Nigeria end up with COVID?

EI: No.

MM: Were you able to make any more friends in fall 2020 and spring 2021?

EI: Yes, I think I did meet a couple people.

MM: Were you able to go into extracurricular activities, join any clubs?

EI: Not at that time now. But coming here, I was already part of the International Students Association. So I still did interact with that. But as far as anything new, not really.


MM: Did your interactions with other people change? Did you become a less social person?

EI: I guess yeah, because you're not really seeing people as much anymore.

MM: How did you feel about the hybrid approach? How did it impact your education?

EI: I mean, it was a step to getting fixed back to normal, but it took a lot of getting used to it. It was weird at first, but you know, I saw it as a school doing what they could to get

MM: With the vaccines being readily available, and being strongly advised by the administration, what were your initial thoughts about the Covid vaccine?

EI: I was very hesitant because I had heard negative stuff about it, especially for people in the African American community. So I was very hesitant and I also don't like needles so that also added to it. But after a while, I'm like there 00:30:00will be a lot of limitations if you don't get this vaccine. So I thought it was for the best.

MM: Can you describe what you were hearing about it?

EI: I heard that it caused blood clots in people or that they were making certain vaccines for the African American community that wasn't as good or had bad side effects of them. I was like "Um, no."

MM: Did you ever end up getting the Covid vaccine?

EI: Yes

MM: When did you get that? Was it influenced by UW Oshkosh?

EI: Yes, and also socially as well. I knew that there would be a point where if you are not vaccinated there are so many things you couldn't do like travel, go in some certain places. I was like this would become an issue if I don't get it.

MM: How do you feel about things going back to normal?


​​EI: To be honest I think that there is just going to be a new normal. Come to think about it, it's still here even as much as we have done to curb it. The normal that we used to know is unfortunately not that anymore, there is just going to be a new normal.

MM: Are there any aspects about Covid life at school that you think won't change back?

EI: I think for a while masks are still going to be a thing. That's sad but we are just going to have to get used to it. With still being a thing, you really can't anyone anymore, it's hard to walk around and smile at people anymore, which I kind of miss. But that's what it's going to be.

MM: What has living and learning in the time of Covid taught you about yourself?


EI: You can make anything work if you just plan for it. Sometimes you don't see it coming but when it's presented to you, you make a plan. We are going to get through this we just need to this and this and this. And if that doesn't work you try it another way. You just can't sit back and keep complaining. Covid made people lazy, which is very sad. If you just make a plan you can get through it

GL: Before you finish, when you and your roomates were living in the apartment you said?

EI: Yes

GL: Who was the one who came up with the plan about getting up every morning, doing your schoolwork, who was that person?

EI: My friend, she was the one who said we would have to keep our head up and have a game plan in this. We can't just around and, do whatever. Basically, we sat together and brought up ideas but she was the one who wrapped us all into it


GL: How long did you actually do that for?

EI: The whole, we already half into the semester when this happened. So for the rest of it until we took our final exams that's what we were doing

GL: Every morning what time would you wake up?

EI: 8 o'clock or so

GL: And how long would you go?

EI: Like 4:00 pm, we would go late until the day because even after doing classes we would do homework, assignments, stuff like that. We went late into the day but we would take a break, get some lunch.

GL: That sounds, that's amazing. It was a kitchen table that were you putting your laptops on?

EI: Yeah. She had a dining area beside her kitchen. So we would all sit there with our books and everything and do class.

GL: Were there any technology issues? Do you have good wifi, did you have any problems connecting?

EI: Luckily she had good wifi so we were pretty much okay.


MM: Do you have anything else you want to add?

EI: I guess like returning to a new normal, one thing I wish we could do more is getting people back on their feet. Because when we were online people became too relaxed and now they lack this motivation to do things again. We need that, we need to pick ourselves back up and form a community, we need to get back on track. If anyone's listening let's make it happen

MM: Thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate your contribution to the Campus Covid Stories at UW Oshkosh.

EI: Thank you so much this was very fun