Interview with Lindsay Thaves, 11/16/2021

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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PG: This is Piper green interviewing Lindsay Thaves on November 16 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 story with us.

LT: Of course.

PG: Alright, just to get this started, we would like to get to know you a bit. So where did you grow up? What can you tell me about it?

LT :I grew up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. So it's about an hour 15, East of here and it's a decently sized city.

LT: It's right in between Milwaukee and Green Bay so, there wasn't a whole lot to do. But I mean, it was a good childhood, that's for sure.

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

LT: My dad works at Kohler company in the foundry and my mom works for a senior living community as a communications director, basically.

PG: Awesome.

PG: When did you start thinking about going to college? Was it always a given in 00:01:00your house? And did your parents expect you to attend?

LT:I think, when we were younger, my parents definitely pushed for us to go to college. So, it's always been in the back of my head. I think it's awesome because my dad never went to college and he knows the outcome of working in a factory. He really wants us to be able to succeed. So, I mean, yeah, it's always been on the back of my mind to go to college.

PG: Alright. Why did you choose to go to UW Oshkosh? Was it the campus, your major the people,

LT: I chose to go to UW Oshkosh because it was the most affordable within state for my career path that I chose, which is music education. And so I decided to go to a school that's a lot less expensive even if it's going to take a little bit more time. In the end, I don't have as much debt to make up for.

PG: Right, that makes sense. Okay, let's move to the early days of COVID at UW Oshkosh.

PG: At the beginning of spring semester 2020, where were you in your college 00:02:00career? Did you have a full class load? And what was your living situation?

LT: I was in my sophomore year of college, spring of 2020.

LT: I think I had 18 credits that semester so I was pretty packed. Most of my semesters are like that. What was the other question? Sorry.

PG: It was, what was your living situation?

LT: Oh, I lived in the dorms. I lived in Taylor Hall on the first floor like way in the back corner. So it was a trip to get to my room.

PG: Okay, when was the first time you remember hearing about Covid 19?

LT: The first time I remember hearing about COVID would actually be December of 2019. I was in Sheboygan actually working at the pizza place that I usually work at. All of a sudden, people were just talking about this sickness that 00:03:00flourished and was on the opposite side of the world.

LT: They were talking about how they were afraid of it coming to the United States and that would have been the very first time I probably heard about it.

PG: And what was your initial reaction to that? Were you scared?

LT: Um, I don't think I was scared. I was more like, oh, gosh, I hope people are okay. I hope people aren't getting this. I was hoping that it wouldn't make it to the United States but deep down I knew it would.

PG: Right. Where were your feelings as everything shut down? Did it affect your mental state?

LT: Yes, it actually did. I remember kind of getting freaked out because I'm very high risk. And so learning about what it can do to your lungs and your heart.. like I have asthma and heart disease. So, I was on top of the totem pole for like if you get it you could get seriously injured from it. Like I could die from it. And so, I was kind of freaked out. I heard that 00:04:00it was in Fond du Lac, actually, when I was walking out of rehearsal, and I remember looking at one of my friends and I was like, it's literally here. And she's like, yeah, and she's a nursing student. Well, now she's a nurse, but at the time, she was a nursing student and she was telling me not to be too freaked out. It's one of literally the smallest diseases and, even though it can do a whole lot, just wear your mask, social distance and do what they're telling you to do.

PG: Right.

PG:How would you describe your feelings about the disease itself?

LT:I don't like it, obviously. I don't like how it can kill people. I don't like how it spreads. Nothing like that. I'm not a huge fan of it. No one should be.

PG: Okay, prior to the university shutting down, how much planning had you made for the shutdown? Did you have a game plan?

PG: How much were your parents involved in your decisions on what you're going 00:05:00to do?

LT: They weren't really involved in my decisions at all. I think it's because I'm an adult and they know that I'd make the right choices for myself but I had zero plans.

LT: Going into spring break, we actually left a week early. I only brought two weeks worth of clothes because I was like, oh, well, we'll go back. Like it's not a big deal. Then we didn't actually end up going back. So I was living off of a giant suitcase and then whatever else I brought home with me for a while.

PG: Right. Okay. And did you end up staying at home in Sheboygan, then?

LT: Yeah, I did. I lived with my parents.

PG: Okay and how did this affect your major? Did you have to do your music classes on Zoom?

LT: Everything was online. My professors were absolutely amazing. They were trying to get us on Zoom but it was very hard to do lessons on Zoom. I had secondary lessons so it was a totally different instrument that I've never 00:06:00played in my life and I had to learn it on my own. We had piano lessons over zoom but a lot of times what was nice is they allowed us to record and then send it in. While they figured out the electronics and microphones. We had to do jury, which as a music major, obviously you wouldn't know what jury is but it's basically what keeps you in the music department. It's this one big performance at the end of each semester and it goes along with your private lessons. And so you have to pass that obviously. And so we had to figure out a way to do juries over zoom pretty quickly. After March, but I mean, yeah, it really affected the way that it was taught, for sure.

PG:Okay, do you remember how long you thought you would be home?

LT: I only thought we were going to be home for like those two, maybe three weeks? I think everyone thought that too.

LT:I was pretty disappointed.

PG: How did you transition back to living at home? Was it difficult to be living 00:07:00with your family?

LT: Again, it was very hard. I have a very big family. And I'm so used to living on my own so it was hard to be like, Oh, I have a timeframe that I need to be home, I gotta shower at a certain time. I got to make sure when I come home from work, I'm quiet. Like, I was so used to living on my own that coming back home, it obviously was a struggle. And it was kind of hard to get back into that routine. Like I was in high school.

PG: Yeah, yeah. Sure. How were the other people in your home affected by COVID? Mentally did it affect their job and social life?

LT: Um, I think my mom got super stressed out because she was helping in a senior living home, she worked there. And so she was like, super careful about what she did. And she, like made it prominent to us that like we had to be very careful, especially with me in the house now. So like, my sisters could barely go out, she wouldn't really let them go out. I wasn't really allowed to go out. But I mean, I made those choices on my own to not go out.

PG: Okay, how were COVID protocols dealt with at first in your home masking 00:08:00social distancing? Was there much friction? Or were you all in agreement about them?

LT: We didn't really have any protocols. We just came home and did our thing, like we normally do.

LT: We would, there was one thing like we really only stuck to like a few close people that we knew that we're taking COVID pretty seriously. So I had like a couple friends in Sheboygan at the time that took it very seriously. And so I would literally only hang out with them. Or I'd go hiking on my own. Like it was all very much close related. And with like maybe five or six people outside of us.

PG: When you went hiking, did they ever shut the places down because I remember I went to high cliff which is nearby here and they completely shut it down during COVID.

LT: The place that I went to was mainly at a camp that I worked at. So I was really the only person allowed there-any of like the staff were allowed to go 00:09:00hiking there. And so I brought my dog there, that was the main spot that I went hiking. And then when they actually shut down Kohler Andre State Park, and that's where also I went hiking. And I got pretty upset about that. Because at that time, so many people were going and they were like trashing the place, they would leave all their trash everywhere. And that's why they ended up shutting it down. But the camp that I hiked that mainly, they didn't care, they knew I was there, and I didn't leave my footprints behind. So that's all that mattered. Right?

PG: Since you spent a lot of time with your family, what were some of the challenges of being around your family that much? Were you able to get out of the house when you wanted to?

LT: I mean, I was able to get out of the house when I wanted to, because I'm an adult. But yes, there was definitely some challenges a couple of headbutts every now and then, as you would expect, but I mean, I think it's mainly because I'm so used to living on my own that I think

LT: I found it challenging to kind of live under my parents rules again, even 00:10:00though they didn't have that many rules in place for me. But it was just getting into that schedule, that was a lot tougher.

PG: Okay, regarding your classes and schoolwork, how did you find the transition to online learning?

LT: It was very hard. I am a visual learner. And going to online classes was very challenging for me, I couldn't pay attention, I would literally have to isolate myself in my room with like a glass of water and some snacks. So I wouldn't get up and go do something. But it was also very hard for like practicing. Because I was so used to practicing like, eight, nine hours a day, in the practice rooms where I was by myself anyways, I had a piano. And so I ended up purchasing my own piano at home, actually, and having to do that there. And so I would hang a sign on my door that would literally say, I'm practicing, don't bother. Or I'm going to Lesson don't bother me. Because otherwise they'll just like walk in. But it was it was very hard to switch to that.


PG: What subjects would you say were the hardest to deal with online? I'll do my writing class.

LT: My writing class was really hard to do, because my professor is also very, like particular with what he wants. And he like, couldn't figure out how to put that into his messages on canvas and whatnot. And so it got really hard to figure out what he wanted, and what particular paper and just to like keep up with that was really difficult.

PG: So you would say it's better in person?

LT: Definitely.

PG: What were your feelings about finishing up the semester from off campus?

LT:I didn't like it at all, I struggled really hard, over COVID. And like my grades dropped, and I wasn't in contact with my professors as much. And I also think it's due to the fact that I started working more to during the week, so that I was focused on that as like a way to get away from my schoolwork. And so 00:12:00then I got home, I was too tired to do schoolwork. And I was like I could catch up. But by that point, you're just falling so far behind. But I mean, eventually I got my grades up again, but it was still something to get used to.

PG: Definitely. How much did COVID impact your major other than your music classes on Zoom? Did you ever think of switching your major due to COVID changes?

LT: No, I never thought about switching it. It definitely got harder, but never thought about switching.

PG: Okay. With everything that happened so quickly. How are you feeling emotionally? How are the people around you coping?

LT:Like just recently or during COVID?

PG: Oh, during COVID.

LT: My mental health went really far down. I was not doing too hot. And I think it's because I didn't have my friends around me that I'm used to having. Sure my family was there. But they're also like, never there if that makes sense. They're always working or they're gone. And my siblings, they were always doing homework or something, off with their friends. And I was used to having this 00:13:00wonderful group and huge support system around me. And then all of a sudden it all just went away. And my mental health just went downhill.

PG: What about your friends? How did you stay in contact with them? And how are they handling everything during COVID?

LT: Um, they were kind of the same way as me they were struggling a lot. We didn't really know how to cope with COVID on top of like schoolwork and working and being a musician over zoom. Basically, they were struggling as well. But we stayed in contact through a lot of facetimes a lot of Snapchatting a lot of messaging. We would do like study groups over zoom, and just like figure out what we needed to do. And like when deadlines were because it wasn't always clear.

PG: And did they follow or not follow protocols like you?

LT:I mean, I'm pretty sure they all followed. It wasn't really with them.

PG: Right.

LT: But during the time that it first came out, we definitely all followed protocol because we also have a bunch of high risk people within our friend group.


PG: Right. Okay, tell me about any jobs you had during this time. How was your work affected?

LT: Um, I worked at a pizza place. It's called firehouse pizza in Sheboygan Falls and it's like a family owned pizza place. I worked there since I was like 15. And during this time, our hours got cut. But we barely even have enough staff, if that makes sense. We had enough to run the business as usual, though. But he did cut some of our hours. And then I mean, it didn't really affect me because those hours weren't during the time that I work usually anyways. So that was also kind of nice.

PG: And how is the company affected now? Are there more hours for workers? Is it doing better?

LT: Mmm, it's doing better in business now but they still don't have enough employees if that makes sense.

PG:Common struggle

LT: Yes.

PG:If you are willing, can you tell me about how COVID affected you?

PG: financially, any financial aid issues?


LT:I feel like it affects me more now. Because where I work now is Pet Smart. And even though I'm a manager, we still have to cut hours, because we don't have enough staff. And so with the hours that we're given, we can't fill those hours due to not having staff. So they'll cut our hours even more, which only gives us so many to work with. So in that aspect, yes, but during COVID times, like when it first happened, no, I was getting my hours. And then I started working at the camp again. So I had two jobs, so I was fine.

PG: Okay. Got it. Once the semester ended, how, if at all, did your life change? Did you work more? Did you take vacations and see friends? I mean, I did, especially with the cheap plane tickets.

LT:I actually didn't travel because I wasn't vaccinated yet. And I couldn't risk getting COVID with my health issues. But I did make a trip down to Milwaukee to 00:16:00see one of my friends and then one of our other friends met in Milwaukee because she lives in Illinois. So it was like a perfect middle ground. And we got lunch, and we hung out in our car, basically. Yeah. But we all got tested prior to doing that anyway.

PG: Okay. Um, now let's talk about fall 2020. What was your reaction to coming back to campus with in person classes available?

LT: I was excited. I was just like, aching to come back. I needed to.

PG: Yeah. Were you worried about positive cases or just excited to be back? Both?

LT: I guess, I was worried about a lot of people coming with COVID.

LT: But I knew that the university kind of had it under control.


PG: And that semester, UW Oshkosh chose to offer some classes in person, but most online, what did you choose to do in this new reality?

Did you feel that was the right choice for you?

LT: All my classes actually didn't really allow online classes because they are music classes. I had two classes that were not music classes that semester. And they offered remote as well. But I chose to do in person because I've learned that I learned better in person. And I knew that most students would follow the protocols anyway. So I wasn't too worried about getting COVID in a classroom.

PG: Right.

PG: What was life like at UWO once you came back overall, how did you feel about the new school year?

LT: I was definitely nervous to come back.

LT: But I also was like, fine, because I live in a house now. So I was only around my roommates really. And our class sizes in the music department are 00:18:00super small. And everyone gets tested and takes it very seriously.

PG: How did you feel about COVID protocols that were in place and all the masking, the testing of those living in dorms, being put in quarantine because of COVID or close contact?

LT: I thought it was really great. I think UW Oshkosh did really well with their protocols. And the fact that we could get tested whenever we wanted to, and made it.

PG: It wasn't optional, right?

LT: For the people in the dorms like they had to get tested every two weeks I'm pretty sure. Yeah. So like knowing that almost half of the student body was getting tested every two weeks. And then I know my entire friend group, like if we'd all hang out in a big group, everyone had to get tested prior to hanging out in the group, and then send the test results to our group chat that we had.

PG: So you said you were living in a house when you came back? And how was that? Did you find yourself isolating there a lot?

LT:I did, actually. So it was a lot of isolation there. Since we don't have 00:19:00practice rooms yet. They're taking them down and remodeling them. So I couldn't just like hang out in the music department anymore. We had to be at our house and it was hard actually practicing there as weird as it sounds because of how many distractions. I still miss those practice rooms, but we've kind of found our way.

PG:Mm hmm. Did your interactions with other people change? Did you become a less social individual? Because of COVID

LT: Oh, definitely not.

LT: I'm not a social person. So I didn't find that hard.

PG: Okay, um, tell me about meeting more or new people. Were you able to do that or did you just stick with your friend group?

LT: Coming back in the fall, I mainly stuck with my friend group. But my friend group kind of like branches, if that makes sense. So everyone knows everyone. \And the people that we did meet as like new friends would be from like our own friend group and their buddies.

PG: Got it.


PG: What was the biggest change on campus, as you saw from the spring semester to the fall semester?

LT: Walking the reeve, like seeing all those tables blocked off, I kind of got sad, because I was like, I feel bad for the freshmen. Because they don't get to have that opportunity to eat with their friends or meet new people. So I don't even know how they did it. But I was lucky enough to be going into my junior year by then.

PG:How did you feel the department's and faculty did with this hybrid approach to education? Do you think you're getting a good education?

LT: They were doing their best, if that makes sense. Like, I can't say that I was getting a good education. But I wasn't getting a bad education, because it's not their fault. They were trying to get prepared.

PG:Oh, yeah. They weren't prepared at all. And I mean, we weren't prepared at all, either.

LT: I had multiple professors always send apologies like, I'm so sorry, this isn't working like, we're going to try this. And it's like, I know, they felt 00:21:00really bad. Like they felt worse than we did like handing in homework late or like trying to figure out how to hand it in. But I wouldn't say we got a good education, but they were doing the best stuff they could write.

PG: So in the fall of 2021, vaccines are readily available on campus, and in fact, strongly advocated by administration in the CDC, what were your initial thoughts about the vaccine?

LT: My initial thoughts were iffy about it because like a lot of healthcare providers were like, You should do it. If you have high risk. And then other health care providers were like, don't do it if you're high risk, it can affect this. So I actually waited to get the vaccine until obviously, family members got it. And my mom, she got it first. And she had a really bad reaction, which I was hearing all around. And my professors got it before I could.

LT: Even though I was in the high risk category, I wasn't over the age of 65. 00:22:00And so I decided to finally get it. And I only slept for like 13 hours after getting my first one. But I didn't have a reaction in the second one.

PG: What were your thoughts about the VAX Up campaign to get students vaccinated to win scholarships?

LT: I think it's kind of neat. I mean, either way I was vaccinated at that time. So I mean, I think most of us were vaccinated at that time, right?

PG: How much do you feel things are getting back to normal? And for that matter, what is

normal to you?

LT: Normal would be no masks or social distancing.

LT: They're definitely slowly getting there. I got really excited because the gyms just allowed people to not be masked while working out.

PG: Yeah, literally. What day was it? Friday?

LT:Yes and I do go to the gym every day. With asthma and heart disease, it's really hard to breathe behind a mask. But I think my lungs compensated for it. So, when I took off my mask, I was kind of struggling more than I normally 00:23:00would. So hopefully, fingers crossed, around campus, we can kind of start taking off our masks, but I still encourage social distancing, obviously.

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

LT: Social distancing.

LT:I think it's really good that they're still cleaning everywhere because I mean, I don't know how much of it was done before COVID. It should always be like that. But yeah, I don't know. I think hopefully, the masks come off but we're slowly getting there, which is good to see. Right?

PG: What about you? Are there any aspects of yourself you think COVID has changed for good?

LT :Oh, yeah, definitely the way that I talked to people. I'm not up in their face anymore. Like, I literally take a step back, because I'm like, oh, they're too close. But it's not because of COVID reasons. I think now that I've created, 00:24:00like this giant bubble for myself, I'm like, Oh, you're in my space now. But really only that and if they're not wearing a mask, and I am, and they're like, in my face because of work. sometimes you know, I'm wearing a mask at work and they're like, on top of me. I'm like, Okay, take a step back, my friend.

PG: All right, um, how do you think this historical event might have changed you permanently? Was it in a good way or a bad way?

LT: I think I'm very careful about the people I'm around now.

LT: Due to not wanting to get it, I mean, I had it in August so I did have COVID at one point, and honestly, it didn't even affect me that much. I just thought I had a really bad cold. And then I got tested and it came back positive. And I thought, oh that's nice. But it made sense

LT: Because I was struggling walking up the stairs like I couldn't breathe. I 00:25:00was sucking out my inhaler for like two weeks. And I think that's because of the vaccine. So I mean, it didn't change me in a negative way, but it didn't change me in a positive way.

PG: Right. Okay. Do you have anything else you want to add?

LT:No, I don't think so.

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

LT: Definitely.