Interview with Madalyn Cook, 12/01/2021

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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´╗┐AP: This is Adam Pulvermacher interviewing Madalyn Cook on December 1st, 2021, for Campus COVID Stories. Campus COVID Stories is a collection of oral stories from students and the staff of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh about their experiences and the time of COVID. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. First, could you please pronounce your name and spell it out for us?

MC:(Laughter) Madalyn Cook, M-A-D-A-L-Y-N.

AP: Okay, for the purpose of obtaining a good audio recording, please tell us again who you are, your age, your major and your year in school.

MC: My name is Madalyn. I'm 22 years old. I'm a senior at UW Oshkosh and I'm a nursing major.

AP: Okay, so just to get us started. We would like to know you a little bit. So 00:01:00where did you grow up

MC: In Port Washington, Wisconsin.

AP: Okay, what can you kind of tell me about that area?

MC: It's kind of close to Milwaukee, North Milwaukee. It's on Lake Michigan. It's a smaller town, but like a lot of towns around it so it doesn't feel very small.

AP: Okay, um, can you tell me about your parents? What do they do for a living?

MC: They do medical sales.

AP: Okay, medical sales and do they both work together or separate or what?

MC:Together.

AP: Together, okay. So when did you start thinking about going to college? And was it always kind of a given in your household that you would attend school?

MC: I always wanted to go to college, but my parents didn't force me. I didn't know what else to do.

AP: Okay. Um, did you have, or I suppose, why did you like choose to go to UW Oshkosh? You said you're from Port Washington, so that's kind of near like the Milwaukee area. Why did you decide Oshkosh over other colleges?

MC: I would didn't want it to be here, but my mom made me because I was gonna commit to Marquette and that was the only school I toured and then she's like, 00:02:00"No, we need to tour more schools", and then when we did. I liked Oshkosh out of all of them the best.

AP: Okay. Um, so can you kind of tell us about your life, you know, at UW Oshkosh before the COVID 19 pandemic kind of hit.

MC: I lived in the dorms. I lived in South Scott freshman year and Fletcher sophomore year, and I was in Fletcher when we got sent home.

AP: Alrighty, so you kind of just said, so at the start of the spring semester, this being 2020, where were you living? Or where were you in your college career not living as far academics go?

MC: I was a sophomore. I was in my second semester of sophomore year.

AP: Second semester of sophomore year. Did you have a full class load?

MC: Yes.

AP: Okay. How many credits were you taking here that time? Can you remember?

MC: No but probably like, I'd say around 16.

AP: 16 credits, and you said you are a nursing major. Were you in the School of 00:03:00Nursing at this point?

MC: No.

AP: You were not. What was your living situation? I know you said you lived in Fletcher but I know it kind of varies. Did you have a lot of roommates? Do you have a single room? What was it like?

MC: I had two roommates.

AP: Two roommates. Okay, so I'm now touching on the topic of the Coronavirus. Do you remember the first time you really heard about COVID-19?

MC: Yeah, I remember my mom texted me and she was,it was right after my nursing interview, and she's like, "you're gonna have to come home", And I was like, "why?", she's like, "the schools are shutting down because of COVID", and I like heard about it, like, a few weeks like before that, but like, I didn't think it was actually going to be a big deal because we never went through a pandemic.

AP: Right. What were your like, you know, initial reactions to like hearing about all this? Were you kind of like, I mean, like, I know, in like previous times, we've kind of had scares like with H1N1, and like the Swine Flu, but, you know, those things never really took off in the United States. You know, did you 00:04:00really take it serious when you first kind of heard about it?

MC: No, my friends and I were supposed to go to Myrtle Beach in a few weeks, or like maybe it was the next week, and so they told us we had like the two weeks of spring break instead of one now so then we started looking for flights from Myrtle Beach to Miami. And then my mom called me and said, "No, you're not booking that flight because it's gonna be more serious than you think."

AP: Okay, um, you know, what were your feelings when like you know, you heard UW, obviously your mom talked about it. That UWO, shut down, elsewhere were shutting down all of a sudden because we just we've never really been in anything like this. Were you scared initially (MC: No), or how were your thoughts, no?

MC: I literally just remember thinking that it's like a free for all like, we are out of school.

AP: Okay.

MC: Nothing like it'd be like a few weeks away and then we'd come back. Like I thought it was like, two or three weeks of just like fun.

AP: Okay, did you anticipate coming back to college?

MC: Oh, yeah.

AP: Okay, so now lets kinda move to like prior to the university shutting down. 00:05:00You know, how much planning had you made for the shutdown? You said obviously you thought you were going to come back, but did you take much stuff back with you when you first went back home?

MC: Just stuff because I still wanted to go on spring break. And my parents told me it wasn't going to happen. But I just brought stuff for that, and then just like clothes for home, like two weeks probably worth this stuff.

AP: Okay. Did your kind of friends anticipate the same thing?

MC: Yeah, and one of my friends, his dad's a principal, and he told us that we won't be coming back to school at all, and when none of us believed him.

AP: Okay. So, let's see here, we've talked about this. So where did you, when you went when the university did shut down, you know we were sent home that week before break. Did you just just went home for that whole time? You didn't go to your friend's house or anything like that?

MC: I Don't think so.

AP: No?

MC: Maybe?

AP: Alrighty. Let's see here. So how did the transition, so this is going to be 00:06:00let's see here. So after yeah, you got sent home, how did your transition back to living at home go? You know, was it difficult being with your family again, or was it like nothing really changed?

MC: It was fine at first because I didn't live with them anymore so it's like kind of good to see them, but thenI had enough.

AP: Yeah. Can you kind of describe and like go into depth? Like, how did you have enough? Like, did you guys fight a lot or what kind of happened? Cause I know there was like a lot of turmoil going on, cuz there was a lot of stuff going on.

MC: The whole thing?

AP: Yeah.

MC: Oh, well, I remember it hit five weeks that I hadn't seen anybody but my family.

AP: You can just kind of describe like the first like the first couple weeks.

MC: Oh, the first couple weeks were fine. Like I'd say like, it hit like after three weeks I was like, I'm over this.

AP: Okay.

MC: It was actually kind of fun.

AP: Yeah? Did you guys do anything fun? Like, as far as the family goes, like, how did you guys spend quarantine? The first quarantine, the first shutdown.

MC: Oh, we played a lot of cards and games, and we this is weird, but we did 00:07:00like themed dinners.

AP: Okay, what were some of the things you guys did for dinner?

MC: It was like Mexican and stuff. We would wear sombreros.

AP: (Laughter). So you guys are just trying to like have fun like during?

MC: Yeah.

AP: Okay. How were like other people in your home affected by COVID? Obviously you said your parents are pharmaceutical?

MC: Medical sales.

AP: I mean, how were they? Obviously they're in the health field, how are they affected? They continue to work during the first shutdown?

MC: Well they both work from home, so it didn't affect them.

AP: Okay. As far as you know, your family, do you have a sister or a brother? How are they affected by COVID?

MC: I have a sister and a brother, and they just did the same as me. My sister was working at the same place I was and we did work for a little bit, and then my mom made us come home because she started freaking out about the virus. I 00:08:00don't, I could of worked the whole time. I didn't care.

AP: Where were you working at?

MC: A nursing home.

AP: A nursing home? And this was back at Port Washington.

MC: Yeah. And wait, go.

AP: No, you can go ahead.

MC: Okay, I know my mom was scared because I worked in there like a memory care unit, and I had 17 residents, and I think it was like, seven to ten of them died because of COVID and then my mom started freaking out thinking that I was gonna die too.

AP: Okay. So you said you worked in a nursing home. What were you know, what were kind of the protocols obviously with going into there because they're the high risk group, obviously, of contracting the disease and passing away. How did the nursing home handle it?

MC: From what I remember, we had to wear like, an N95 mask, a regular mask, and a face shield, and then if somebody had COVID, we had to do like the completely PPE like everything, like a gown.

AP: Okay.

MC: And gloves and all that stuff.

AP: Alrighty, so obviously, you said you kind of got fed up with being around 00:09:00your family, you just kind of over it after that long. Were you able to get out of the house when you needed to? Or were you guys literally like locked down?

MC: I'd say the first month we were actually locked down and like, we didn't see anybody. But then there was one weekend, I was just really sick of seeing my family. So I left and went to my friend's house in Illinois for a few nights. I don't know what my parents thought, but they couldn't stop me.

AP: No. Did they give you a really hard time when he got back? Or was it just kind of.

MC: No, they didn't care.

AP: No?

MC: I think they were getting ready too.

AP: Okay. So now we can kind of talk, you've been home for a few weeks now. The university's kind of making the big switch to online learning. How did you find the transition go You know how the transition goal especially for you being a nursing student, which is a very hard major, how did that go online?

MC: It made the classes a lot easier because literally we didn't have any labs 00:10:00or anything.

AP:Really? So did you normally how many labs would you have to take?

MC: Once a week.

AP: Once a week? Wow, so let's see.

MC: I don't think we had labs.

AP: Did you have did you deal with any really like technological issues being at home instead of being in the classroom and doing everything online and virtually?

MC: No, because none of our exams were proctored, and so everybody's GPAs were like, 4.0.

AP: Okay, see, it made everything really? Okay. So what were your, you know, obviously, we're in the heart of our college prime, when this got hit, or when this hit campus. How were your feelings about kind of getting robbed of the rest of that semester? And you know, having to be home instead of being in Oshkosh?

MC: Can you repeat that?

AP: Yeah, so we kind of got, you know, robbed of the rest I cuz I remember it too. I was also a student at the time. You know, it was really fun leading up prior to the pandemic hit. We were on the, like, almost the back nine, spring break was about to hit. And, you know, we were towards the getting towards the 00:11:00end of the semester, or, you know, the back half of the semester. You know, were you disappointed that you weren't able to finish the semester up in Oshkosh, and you had to be back home.

MC: At first, I was really excited that we got to go home and not have to do school, but then, once I realized I had to do school at home, I was super irritated and wanted to be back here.

AP: Yeah. What were your feelings about finishing up the semester from off campus?

MC: Like academically?

AP: Academically, socially, you know, just not being able to be with all the friends. I know. You're, like, normally accustomed to being around?

MC: Yeah. Well, academically. I was I knew I had the, I was in Physiology. And I knew I had to take Patho-Phys eventually for the nursing program, and like, my exams weren't proctored so people could like, easily cheat, but what like, that was really, I knew I had to study for that and that was hard. Because like, I have to know that later. And so like, I actually put time and work into that, and like, didn't like, I don't know, I took that seriously. But then my other 00:12:00classes that I didn't care about, that was a drag, because I literally did not care. And then socially, my friends and I zoomed every single day, and we make PowerPoints and stuff.

AP: Okay, what are these PowerPoints consist of?

MC: Like, PowerPoint night (Laughter)? Tik-tok.

AP: So, how much, did you ever really consider switching or changing a major during this time, because, you know, it just impacted it so much and made it kind of more difficult, you know, just not having a lot of hands on work that, you know, is like, really critical to becoming a nurse?

MC: No. I know, that's like, well, like, I'm on nurse Tik-Tok, and a lot of people talk about that, about how like, in a pandemic, we still choose to go into like health care, or like, how crazy it is right now. But I think think that made me want to be one a nurse more.

AP: Okay. So with everything happening so quickly, obviously, you got sent home, 00:13:00you really can't see your friends, at least in person anymore, your family's driving you nuts. You know, how are you feeling emotionally during this time? Like did you have did you deal with any like mental like stress issues regarding COVID? Or like, just I don't know, it's just a hit at a very obviously, we're young people, we like to go out and have fun, and we kind of got a lot of that taken away. Did you deal with any of that like sadness or grief for such?

MC: No, because, well, I was finding COVID I hung out with, I hang out with my sister a lot anyways, so it was pretty normal for me because, like, even like outside of COVID we, like hang out as like friends more than siblings. My brother, I don't know. He that's the like, only emotional stress during COVID, but other than that nothing.

AP: Okay. So, I mean did your friends, did they kind of deal with it the same 00:14:00way as you? Or do you don't even like did your friends kind of have a more difficult time with it?

MC: My, two of my best friends from home are the only children so I know they were like going crazy in the house because they like you can only do so much with your parents like siblings are different relationship.

AP: Right, Right. Alrighty, so as far as like, COVID and like getting sick yourself. Do you know you know, anyone? Obviously, I know you said you talked or you worked in a nursing home and you had some COVID positives that ended up passing away, but did you have anyone like in your family, immediate family, friends that you know got really sick by COVID?

MC: Yeah, one of my parents' friends died.

AP: Really?

MC: Well, like an older friend.

AP: How old do you remember like how old they were?

MC: I'd say like 60s.

AP: 60s? Did they have like really bad symptoms? Like did it drag out for a while, like did they end up going to the hospital? Obviously, I know.

MC:Yeah. And then put on a ventilator. My aunt she got COVID, and she was in the 00:15:00hospital and they're going to put on a ventilator and like, we want to go say goodbye. We thought she was, she didn't die, but like, my uncle and her both call them were like, "shit, I might die, I want you guys to come say goodbye, but you literally can't."

AP: Right.

MC: But she ended up living.

AP: Okay. Alrighty lets kind of make a transition. So obviously, you said that you did work for about the first three weeks until your mom kind of got skittish about the whole thing and made you pretty much stopped. Did you ever-- Were kind of in the summer now of 2020, do you ever end up going back to work?

MC: Yeah.

AP: You did? When did you go back?

MC: Probably like, mid-May.

AP: Mid-May. And did you go back to work at that same nursing home?

MC: Yeah.

AP: Okay. Financially, did COVID help you, you know, make it more difficult because I know, for me personally, being able and like getting sent home almost two and a half months earlier than normal, I was able to start working full time 00:16:00and it actually helped me a lot financially. Did it help you, or did not so much?

MC: The beginning, but I did a lot of online shopping during quarantine and I don't know why. I just like would literally order random things online.

AP: Right, right.

MC: Like stuff I saw on Tik-Tok.

AP: Okay. So we can kind of now go back, or now we're in the summer. So now we kind, of we don't have a full grip. Obviously, it's right in the middle of the pandemic. There's no vaccine yet, but we're kind of learning more because we've been in this a few months. How was your summer of 2020? Did it feel normal? Were you able to go on vacation, get together with friends again? How was it?

MC: My summer 2020 was completely normal because my family in the summer usually lives up north and up north, nobody literally believed in COVID. And so we'd go back home, and then we'd have to like wear masks and stuff and everything was shut and we'd go up north and we'd be like, we'd go to the bars. We'd go to 00:17:00restaurants. We'd go anywhere. Like the sandbars were packed, it was normal. I'd go to work and I worked at this like resort, and they, everything was normal.

AP: And this was up north?

MC: Yeah. Like they, that was like, when people are freaking out about COVID, and at work, they didn't care if I wore a mask or not. Like if we were on the main level, yeah we had to but,

other than that, they didn't care.

AP: Okay. So now we can kind of talk about, you know, coming back to Oshkosh for the fall of 2020. After the summer, obviously got sent home. When you learn that UW Oshkosh was returning to in person classes for the fall 2020 semester, what was your reaction? I mean, are you shocked? Were you excited? Because like, I know, I want to say a few of the other UW schools they never, they wound up doing the first semester totally online and we were kind of different by actually coming back to school.

MC: Oh, I was online that semester.

AP: You were fully online that semester? Did you stay home during that semester? Did you move?

MC: No I moved back up here but into a house this time, which made it terrible. 00:18:00Well, it was fun, but like my roommates and I literally laid on the couch every single day. I remember we watched like a three season show in one week and it was getting out of control, and we'd order Toppers pizza and sit on the couch.

AP: So overall, I mean, did it really feel, obviously, it's like you're not going to class in person at all. I mean, did it feel like you were actually in college, but like you said, you just kind of laid around and ate pizza and watched TV. I mean, I mean, how was, was school really that hard?

MC: No, school was so easy.

AP: School was really easy. How did your first, you know, that first semester go academically? Did you do really well?

MC:Yeah.

AP: Okay.

MC: Because I feel like the teachers slacked really hard.

AP: Okay.

MC: And I had like, one assignment a week.

AP: Okay. So now we can kind of talk about, let me see here. What do you think 00:19:00that the, you know, like the university, obviously, they were very, they did the very best they could with the knowledge that they knew to protect the student's, protective faculty, all the staff. What do you think, how do you think the university did to prevent the like the spread into COVID-19? I know obviously, you were off campus and you didn't really have in person campus, but I'm sure you'd bounce around to Reeve wherever you need to go if he'd ever had to meet with an instructor. Like the social distancing, the mask wearing, how they shut down a lot of things. What do you make of all that?

MC: The university kind of confused me.

AP: How so?

MC: Because they have to wear masks some places but not others.

AP: I'm talking about this fall of 2020. So last year.

MC: I can't even remember. I just remember walking through Reeve the tables were all like turned upside down.

AP: Okay. Right, right.

00:20:00

MC: But I don't think that's like, I don't know why they'd have people return, because why would you make kids live in dorms when there's like nothing available? Like Reeve is where you eat.

AP: Right. So do you believe overall they should just like a lot of other UW schools probably just had the first semester at least be fully online where it gave kids the options just to live at home.

MC: Yeah. It should have been like that.

AP: Okay. So now we can kind of talk about, I know you kind of talked about people that you knew, catching this virus and everything. Did you ever personally contract the Coronavirus?

MC: Yes, right when I came back to school that September. I think it was 2020. Yes, it was October 2020. I got the virus.

AP: Did did like the rest of the house get the virus as well?

MC: Yup we all got it.

AP:You guys all got sick at the same time.

MC:Yeah.

AP: What were your symptoms like with it? I know because like a lot of people they talk about like losing their taste and smell or they have body aches, or 00:21:00you know, like a fever and a cough. Did you have mild symptoms? Or did you have more severe symptoms?

MC: I had no symptoms.

AP: Really? You were asymptomatic?

MC: Yeah, I was balling.

AP: Wow. Okay. So I guess my next question was going to be how long did it take to recover, but you don't have to recover if you don't have symptoms. So how about your roommates? Were they really sick with it? Or do they kind of like you and just nothing really?

MC: One of my roommates was like, really sick, and then one my roommates like, had a cold. Well, the four of us who lived upstairs, two of us were asymptomatic. One of us were really sick. And then one of us just, like, kind of sick, a cold.

AP: Okay. So, now we can kind of speak, you know, about kind of like the social life in the first semester back here. How was your social life really impacted by all of this on campus? I mean, I know obviously, you lived off campus, you had a house, you had roommates and everything, you didn't have to be on campus really that much. But as far as like social life and going out and doing, you 00:22:00know, like fun stuff, was that really drastically impacted? Or was it much like, you know, it was prior to COVID.

MC: I never went on campus, like ever, but my social life off campus was like, I would say, was pretty much the same. Since we were in houses, like, we would just have people over on the weekends, or like, we go hang out with our friends. Even when the bars open, we'd go, or the bars were open.

AP: Right.

MC: And so we go. It wasn't much of a change besides campus life.

AP: Just campus itself was really the main?

MC: I'd say Oshkosh as a city didn't really didn't go into quarantine.

AP: Right. So, obviously, you know, like the first semester like you kind of said, it was almost like a wash. It didn't really even you know, like feel like school because you're never on campus. Everything was online, it would sound like it was fairly easy for you. Fall versus, where you, so before I get into 00:23:00this question, where are you in the nursing program? For anyone that doesn't know that's listening to this Oshkosh, prior to getting into the nursing program, you have to have a few semesters under your belt and then you have to apply and be accepted. Were you in the nursing program in the fall of 2020?

MC: No.

AP: You were not accepted into the nursing program at this time?

MC: I was accepted, but I wasn't in it.

AP: Okay, so you were accepted in the fall of 20. So in the spring of 2021, that was your first semester officially in the program?

MC: Yeah.

AP: Okay. What was the biggest change about the semesters? Did you have any in person classes or was still everything kind of online?

MC: Well fall I was completely online did nothing. Then spring, we had like, it was like a huge change for me because well we had in person classes, we had labs back, we had clinical back, and like meetings and stuff weren't online, because 00:24:00I remember orientation for the nursing program was online, but then like, we'd have meetings and like, the rooms and Reeve, and it was all in person.

AP: Okay, how did the nursing program, obviously, you said you had like labs and clinicals. With this still going out and there's still no vaccine out at this point. How did they handle you guys all kind of getting together? Was there like a still a lot of social distancing enforced or how was that?

MC: In lab, we had to wear a mask and a face shield.

AP:Okay.

MC: But then I remember in simulation, I had that during interim of spring 2021. It was they, this campus went like for a few weeks of the summer. Like, you don't have to wear a mask anymore. So then we had that, but then we got another email sent out and said we have to wear a mask again.

AP: Okay.

MC: So at one point, we didn't even wear masks.

AP: Okay. So, now we're pretty much, we're in the spring 2021 semester. It's 00:25:00been roughly about a year, ever since the pandemic kind of started. Did you feel at that point that like the world was kind of heading in the right direction, or somewhat getting normalized again? Or did you still think, you know, we still had a long ways to go, and this is still going to be here for quite some time.

MC: Oh, I knew this was gonna be here for quite some time.

AP: Yeah?

MC: Well, I feel like in Oshkosh, like COVID isn't a big deal. But then like when I would go home and like, or visit my sister in Milwaukee, it's like, so much more strict there, and I just feel like living in Oshkosh,I feel like living in Oshkosh like COVID doesn't exist.

AP: Okay. So overall, you know, now we're officially a full year under wraps in kind of COVID times of the semester. How do you think the university you know, kind of handled the full academic year in such, you know, kind of difficult circumstances, you know, because obviously, nothing like this has ever happened 00:26:00before, in this day and age, so to make everything kind of fully online, and, you know, a very short amount of time and then have to implement all these changes. How do you think the university, you know, did?

MC: I'd say in the beginning, they did good. But now, like this year, I don't understand what's going on. Because what I was talking about earlier, like.

AP: So just for anyone that doesn't know this interview is currently being recorded in the fall of 2021. So we're now coming up, next spring will be officially two years. So now she's referring to the fall of 2021. Go ahead.

MC: Well, the university will send out emails and be like, "in this building, you have to wear masks, in this building, you don't have to." But if you can go to the library without a mask, but if you're in class, you have to wear a mask, which makes no sense, because we were just upstairs in the library and didn't have a mask on, but then we came down here and we're forced to wear masks.

AP: Right. Yeah. So just like a lot of things that just kind of don't make sense 00:27:00right now. So now in the fall of 2021, this semester that we're currently in now, vaccines are readily available on campus and elsewhere. What were your initial thoughts?

MC:About the vaccine? I got it.

AP: You got it, and what do you think of the VAX-Up campaign that the university offered? Obviously offering scholarships and awards to students to go out and get vaccinated?

MC:I think that was smart. I mean, you can't really kill a virus unless you get vaccinated.

AP: Right. How much do you feel that like things are getting back to normal, you know, as you know, as normal as normal can be now.

MC: I feel like where we live right now, it's pretty back, It's always been back to normal. Like, I feel like in Oshkosh, people don't believe in a pandemic, but I feel like other places are like coming back to normal slowly. But like, last, 00:28:00two weeks ago, I was in Milwaukee and like, some places still, like you have to wear a mask to go in and which is like, I forget that other places do that.

AP:Right. What would, do you think that the university, you know, in the coming either, because obviously, they've been this semester is a lot different than it was last year, just I mean, I know, we're still kind of in masking places and everything, but it's still a lot different as far as you know, COVID protocol goe. Do you believe that in the coming either semester, or possibly like to start a next year, It'll pretty much be like it was before the COVID pandemic?

MC: Yeah.

AP: Yeah?

MC: Maybe not next year, but probably like a few years later.

AP:Okay.

MC: Like next two years, three years.

AP: Okay. And then my next question for you, you know, what is living and learning during this kind of COVID, crazy time, you know, taught you about yourself?

00:29:00

MC: That I'm a very social person.

AP: Yeah. So it was just kind of difficult to be kind of restrained for so long?

MC: Yeah..

AP: Okay. I guess then my final full on question for you, do you think that there's ever going to be any aspects of life itself, not, you know, even not even school related, but just life itself, that will never go back to the way it was before the pandemic started. Anything that we used to do that it will just never happen again that you'd see.

MC: No, I think it'll go back to normal once like, like vaccines for school and stuff are required eventually, like, when we come to school, like we have to have certain shots. I think once that's like implemented, things will go back to normal.

AP: Okay,

MC: Once people get vaccinated.

AP: Is there anything else you would like to add?

MC:No.

AP: No. Okay. Well, thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate your contribution to the campus COVID at UW Oshkosh.

00:30:00