Interview with Lauryn Berg, 11/16/2021

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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´╗┐LC: This is Lydia Crow interviewing Lauryn Berg on November 16, 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?

LB: My name is Lauryn Berg. It's spelled L-a-u-r-y-n B-e-r-g.

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

LB: My name is Lauryn Berg. I am a sophomore. My major is Radio TV Film and I am 20 years old.

LC: And what are your pronouns?

LB: My pronouns are she/her.

LC: Okay, great. Just to get us started. We would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell me about where you grew up?

LB: I grew up here in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I was born right across the street 00:01:00from my house at Mercy Medical Center.

LC: Awesome. Tell me about your parents. What did they do?

LB: So my dad, he is an electrical engineer. He works up in Neenah and my mom, she used to be a police officer down in, down in Fond du Lac and now she's working at Jewelers Mutual up in Neenah.

LC: Very cool. Did you always plan on going to college?

LB: Um, yeah, I always planned on going to college. I just never knew when specifically I wanted to go.

LC: Okay. Why did you choose to go to UW Oshkosh?

LB: I chose to go to UW Oshkosh because it was really close to home for me, which was more convenient for my living situation. Also, I know that they have a lot of great programs here, like the Radio TV Film program that I'm currently in.

LC: Sweet. Let's talk about what you experienced right when COVID first hit in March of 2020. When COVID first shut everything down in March 2020, where were 00:02:00you living? And where were you in your schooling?

LB: So in March 2020, I was living at home with my parents. I was currently on my gap year. I was working full time. So in March, it didn't really affect our work too much. But towards the end of March is when we started taking more precautions at work. And we had to slowly start like putting, more like, we moved to more like take out, to-go. We stopped our buffet, we stopped doing our dine-in. And eventually at the beginning of April is when we shut down and we stayed shut down for the whole first month of April.

LC: Okay. You mentioned you were in a gap year. So what made you decide to take a gap year?

LB: So I took a gap year because I really just wanted to work enough to save up money. So I didn't feel like I was like, like scrambling to like paying off 00:03:00college and stuff. And I hadn't really like thought about applying to college yet. And so I'm like, might as well take a gap year, and you know, work and save up enough money. So I feel comfortable.

LC: So where did you work? And like, what did you do at your job?

LB: So I was working and am currently working at China 1 here in Oshkosh. And my position is officially, it's a cashier. So basically, I, well, I'm right now mainly, I'm kind of in like a higher position. So I'm like, I pack the food and I like call the orders. But before that I also like take care of the phone calls and the customers who come up to the front and like cash out drivers at the end of the night and stuff.

LC: Okay. What made you decide to continue to work when others were sheltering at home when the pandemic first started?

LB: I continued to work because I, I really loved my job and my boss and you 00:04:00know, I, I wanted to continue to make money I just, I didn't feel like I was ever at risk when I was at my job. Like she was really good about like taking extra precautions. We always wore masks. We at first we had like gloves. We had like this like, new barrier we put up in the restaurant so I never felt like I was unsafe. So I always felt comfortable going back to work.

LC: Okay. How did it make you feel to be surrounded by like strangers when this pandemic was going on?

LB: So, I felt, felt okay, being surrounded by strangers because I know that I was always taking precautions and like, I didn't really go out anywhere else other than like my job for the most part. So I never felt like I put myself in any like uncomfortable situations around strangers.

00:05:00

LC: Okay. How did your parents feel about you working during the pandemic?

LB: They were fine with it, because actually, both of them also worked during the pandemic. So they like, they understood. We all had like essential jobs. And they understood that I wanted to keep working. And so they supported me in that.

LC: That's awesome. What was it like living at home with your family at the time?

LB: It was pretty great living at home with my family, because I, you know, I got to see my, my sister and my, my parents all the time, and they were really great support through like not seeing any basically anybody else during the pandemic, so.

LC: How did your family feel about like, the social distancing and isolation from people that they don't live with?

LB: So they took it pretty seriously. Like, when, like my grandparents, and my, like, my aunt and uncle. We made sure to keep our distance from them, because my aunt, she actually works at a hospital. She's radi-, she's a radiologist, a 00:06:00radiology technician, or something like that. So we're always more cautious around them and their family because she was like, in the thick of it dealing with that stuff. And we also didn't want to, like transfer anything to our grandparents who were more susceptible. Yep.

LC: In what ways did your family dynamic change during quarantine?

LB: It didn't change too much other than the fact that my sister was home more, which was, which was different. And it was a little harder to deal with. I don't know, usually, I'm used to being at home by myself sometimes during the day when I'm not working. So it was like, it was a bit of a challenge to have her there and have her like interrupting my schedule and my like, flow at home. I don't know.

LC: How did your like relationship change with your sister during this when you're seeing her more often now?

LB: Um, well, we've always been pretty close. So I guess it maybe made us even 00:07:00more closer during the pandemic, I guess.

LC: Okay. Let's see, how did your social life change in quarantine?

LB: So, I, it didn't really change too much. Because I didn't really have much of a social life. I didn't go out. I didn't have many friends yet. I just gotten out of, you know, high school, and it was my gap year. Hadn't really met anybody yet, so, so didn't really change too much. I was used to just being home by myself when I wasn't working anyway.

LC: How did the pandemic affect your ability to look for, like romantic relationships, if you were looking for them?

LB: Well, I wasn't really looking for romantic relationships. So I don't know. I mean, it probably would have made it harder if I were looking for romantic relationships, but I wasn't really focused on that. I was just focused on working at the time.

LC: Okay. How did quarantine and COVID affect your mental health?

00:08:00

LB: So, my mental health, so I felt pretty good. My mental health felt pretty good during the pandemic, because it wasn't. I wasn't too cut off from everybody so I still felt as if I was, like, getting that human social interaction that I needed. So I don't think it really affected my mental health too much. I do think it did affect my dreams, though. I still have some pretty crazy dreams. I don't know if that's from quarantine or not, but.

LC: How did you cope with being quarantined?

LB: So, I have a, well, I've a bunch of different like, outlets that I use. Like, I love to read, I love to, you know, entertain myself with like, you know, movies, TV, social media, stuff like that. Also, I love to make puzzles. So, you know, I finally found time to do that during quarantine when I had time. So, you 00:09:00know, those are all things I used to cope.

LC: Do you remember, like, the first time you heard about COVID? Like, walk me through that.

LB: Yeah, so the first time I heard about COVID was probably at the end of like, 2019 when, like, everything just kind of like started. Hadn't really like ramped up yet. And I hadn't really, like understood how serious and severe that it was gonna be. And you know, as it just kept progressing is when like, I started to get, you know, become more afraid of it. But, yeah, I wasn't very worried about it when I first heard of it, but eventually like, once it got to like March and April when we shut down is when I realized that it was like it was really serious and that I needed to like protect myself.

LC: How did, you kind of touched on this, but how did you feel knowing that a 00:10:00disease like this was spreading in like the United States especially?

LB: Yeah, so when it was, it wasn't that many cases, I wasn't that afraid. But then, once it started, like ramping up pretty quickly is when I started taking it more seriously taking more precautions. Yeah.

LC: Okay. So now, like going into the summer of 2020, did your behavior change at all due to COVID in the summer? Or like, what were some things that changed?

LB: Yeah, so some things that changed during the summer was, we didn't really go anywhere on like, like a vacation or we didn't, we have some land that we usually go camping. We didn't go up there this time. We didn't see any of our like, family that we normally would have during the summer. You know, my birthday is in the summer. We didn't really have any, like, have like a party, didn't have any, like friends or family over. We kind of just had to keep to 00:11:00ourselves, and, I don't know, keep each other company.

LC: Okay, so now from going, like into the summer, into the fall of 2020. Like what made you decide to come to UWO in the fall?

LB: Well, my, my gap year was over and I, and I decided that I finally, you know, I'm ready. I saved up enough money. I'm going to come back, even though it's this weird, hybrid situation. I felt pretty safe with the university and the precautions that they were taking. So I decided, you know, I'm just gonna, just gonna enroll. I'm going to see, see how I like it. Yeah.

LC: Okay. Did you have any concerns or worries coming back, like, during the pandemic, while it was still going on?

LB: Coming back, I didn't really have too many concerns. I only had two in-person classes that semester. And there wasn't, compared to this year, there 00:12:00wasn't that many people actually coming, like in and out of like buildings in the university. So it wasn't, so I never felt unsafe when I was coming to classes.

LC: What were some like, because you mentioned you had in person classes, what were the some of the different COVID protocols that you had to follow in those in-person classes?

LB: So like, in my in-person classes, we had to wear masks, obviously, like we're doing now. And they had the seats, where you were, like, separated from, like, all the other students where they were, like, covered with it. And then they had the wipes where you had to like wipe down your desk in your seat area before you went in. And then for my audio radio class, I had to work at the radio station. And for that, you also have to like wipe down all your equipment, and you have to make sure that if you're in the room by yourself, you were allowed to take your mask off, but if you're with other people, you have to like 00:13:00try to keep your distance from them and make sure all the equipment is clean.

LC: How did you feel about online classes?

LB: I didn't mind online classes. I thought they were really nice. They were really flexible for like my schedule. I didn't really have too much difficulty with the online learning system, because I felt like, we use like a lot of like, Canvas in high school and stuff. So I was kind of used to like, the format. It wasn't too bad.

LC: Okay. Did online classes like change your view on school?

LB: So, maybe a little bit because I'm transitioning from online classes back to in person classes, it made me realize the, some of the easier things about online classes that are like more difficult in in-person classes, like, you 00:14:00know, interacting with, you know, people, other students, and, you know, participating in class and stuff like that. Those are some of the difficulties that I've had coming back.

LC: Yeah. So would you say you prefer online or in-person classes now?

LB: I think that it probably depends on the class. For overall, I'd probably say online, but for like my, like Radio TV Film classes, like my intro to visual media, where you have to do a lot of hands-on learning. I like being in person for that, like learning how to like operate all the equipment.

LC: Okay. So, where did you live last year during school?

LB: So, last year during school, I'm still living at home. Yeah, 'cause it was more convenient for me. I don't live too far away, so just an easy drive over here.

LC: Okay, so you still live at home now?

LB: Yep.

LC: Okay. How did, like, your living situation change while you were in school 00:15:00at home? Did it change at all?

LB: It changed a little bit. I feel like I, I became less productive because I, less productive at home because I had to deal with the new stress of dealing with homework, and going to and from classes, and having to make sure that during like, online classes where I had to, like, watch the like, will not watch the lecture, but like, be there for the lecture. I had to make sure that I was in like a completely quiet space, and I wasn't going to be interrupted by like, like my sister or like, any other family members, stuff like that.

LC: Okay. So how did COVID, like, affect your social life during the school year last year?

LB: So, it was kind of hard because since we were so like, distanced from people in the classroom or online, kind of made it difficult to, like, interact with people and like, make new friends. The only, the only person that I really 00:16:00connected with was the person that I, so at the radio station. You work, I was on news, someone was playing the music, and you have to work with them and we're at the same time. So me and Mackenzie, we kind of like formed a little bit of like a bond, because that was the only time we weren't, like interacting with people, but other than that, it was kind of hard to like, make new friends during the situation.

LC: Okay, now moving to like, COVID testing and vaccinations. How did you feel having to get tested for COVID every week?

LB: Since I, I actually didn't have to get tested for COVID every week because I, I lived at home and I was, you know, taking precautions. I didn't go anywhere. There's just like this form that I had to fill out that said, like, I feel fine enough to come on campus that day. So I've actually, I've never been tested.

00:17:00

LC: Wow.

LB: But, it's because I don't go anywhere and I don't interact with anyone. So, yeah.

LC: Okay. Did you know anyone who got COVID?

LB: Yes, actually, kind of recently, my uncle had gotten COVID. And then my grandparents had gotten COVID from them. They're fine. They survived. They're all, or no, they're not all [unclear]. My grandparents are vaccinated. My uncle is not, so he got it worse than my grandparents did.

LC: How sick were they?

LB: My uncle, he was very sick. He was like, he was since he didn't get vaccinated. It was like worse for him than like, my cousins and my like, grandparents, like so they were fine. They just felt like a little, like, nauseous. Their, like, head hurt. It wasn't too bad. But like, he was, he was bad.

00:18:00

LC: When the vaccines came out, like what were your feelings initially about them?

LB: When the vaccines came out, I, I was happy. You know, I was supportive. I was glad. I made sure to get vaccinated as soon as I had the chance to. You know, I'd seen how bad this was for like, you know, everywhere in the community. And I was happy that there was like, kind of a solution to like make it not so bad.

LC: Yeah. Okay, so to end, I would just like to ask you some final questions. So, how much do you feel like things are getting back to normal?

LB: I feel like they're getting back to normal, like, kind of slowly. I still feel like, I still feel like we're, like, we're still, it still feels like we're 00:19:00in the middle of the pandemic. But for some aspects of like, like at my job, like, we've like taken down the wall we've like, put up like new precautions like less severe than like in the beginning. So it feels like things are kind of returning to normal, yet at the same time I know that it's still just as like, not just as bad, but it's still bad.

LC: So like, what does normal look like for you?

LB: So normal would probably be like, like, not having to wear masks and like being able to go to like, I don't know, an amusement park or something. Or just like, like a concert or a party or something.

LC: Yeah, so like, what would school have to look like for you to call it normal?

LB: So for school probably be like, no more masks and like, no more like 00:20:00restricted seating and restricted amount of people in like specific areas at a time. And more like, like for Titan TV, like more productions like we used to have a whole bunch of them and now we've only got like three. So, you know that would be going back to normal.

LC: Are there any aspects about COVID life at school you think like won't change back?

LB: Maybe like people will be more cautious with like washing their hands on time, using hand sanitizer, and like, covering their mouth and their coughing, and like kind of still distancing yourself from people.

LC: Okay. So like, what about you? Like, are there any aspects of your, of yourself you think COVID has changed for good?

LB: Yeah, I think I'm more, more cautious around, you know, other people and more aware of how, how, like, I act around people and how, what kind of safety precautions I'm taking. Like, now always, like, bring some hand sanitizer with 00:21:00me and like, some Kleenex and always, you know, keep my distance from some people.

LC: Yeah. How do you think this historical event might have changed you permanently?

LB: I think that, I think that I'm always just going to be more cautious of, of people now. And like, always looking, looking out for like, signs that like another outbreak is gonna happen and like, protecting myself against that. And, you know, maybe it'll encourage me to connect with more people who are, who also felt how I felt during the pandemic.

LC: Yeah. Do you have like anything else you want to add?

LB: Not really.

LC: Okay. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate your 00:22:00contribution to the campus COVID stories at UW Oshkosh.