Interview with Piper Green, 11/18/2021

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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´╗┐LT: This is Lindsey Thaves interviewing Piper Green on November 18 of 2021 for campus COVID stories, campus COVID stories is a collection of oral stories from students and staff at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh about their experiences in the time of COVID. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. Of course. First Could you please pronounce your name and spell it out for us?

PG: Piper green. P-I-P-E-R G-R-E-E-N.

LT: For the purpose of obtaining a good audio recording please tell us again who you are.

PG: Piper green.

LT: All right. And just to get us started, would you like to we would like to get to know you a bit. Where did you grow up and what can you tell me about it?

PG: I grew up in Neenah Wisconsin, which is about 15 minutes from Oshkosh, it's a small town. I love it. And I plan on living there when I'm older too.

LT: All right. Tell me about your parents. What did they do?

PG: Um, my parents both work for Gundersen Cleaners in Neenah. My mom is very 00:01:00part time more, more stay-at-home mom. My dad's a sales manager.

LT: And what is your major and year?

PG: My major is criminal justice and I plan on graduating in 2024.

LT: All right. When did you start thinking about going to college? Was it always given in your house?

PG: Yeah, I mean, I took soccer very seriously. And I think it was eighth grade I started to look at colleges. For athletes. I guess that's the normal age. So College has always been in the back of my mind. Just didn't know where I would go until my senior year of high school. I chose Oshkosh.

LT: Okay. Did you choose Oshkosh because of soccer, or did you choose it for academics?

PG: It was a little bit of both. Also, Oshkosh is very affordable school and I'm a homebody, it's 15 minutes from home. So I like to that. But yeah, soccer played a big role in my choice.

LT: Okay. Let's move to the early days of COVID at UW Oshkosh. At the beginning 00:02:00of spring semester 2020, where were you in your college career? Did you have a full class load? What was your living situation?

PG: I was not in school at that time. I had graduated high school in 2019. And I actually took a gap year after that to work. So my first real year of college was fall of 2020.

LT: Okay, so then how would you describe your feelings about the disease of COVID itself?

PG: Um, honestly, at first, I was, I wasn't really scared. I was just like, what the heck is going on? Like, this is weird, like, no one had ever experienced something like this before. But I mean, obviously, I was a little scared. People were getting sick, and we had to wear masks. But yeah.

LT: So since you weren't in school, how were other people in your home affected by COVID?

PG: Um, well, my siblings were in school at the time. My brother was in sixth 00:03:00grade, and my sister was in third.

LT: Okay.

PG: Um, so, I mean, they were sent home. Um, I continued to work. I worked at Kwik Trip, and I still do. So that didn't shut down. There were a lot of places that did. My dad's company also did not shut down. So we kind of just continued to work. But my siblings were at school doing online.

LT: Okay. How were COVID protocols dealt with at first in your home? Was there a lot of friction? Or were you kind of all in agreement?

PG: Um, we were all kind of in an agreement. Honestly, I wasn't too concerned about it. When it first came out, I was just kind of like, oh, whatever, you know, another flu until it actually did get bad, then we started to get scared and not really go out. But my parents didn't really like, give me rules because I was 18. I was an adult can make my own choices.

00:04:00

LT: Definitely. 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 needed?

PG: Um, well, I had been living with them at the time because I took that gap year. So I was already used to that. The only thing is, my siblings were there all the time. And they're young and energetic. And sitting in a house all day is not great for kids. So I would be trying to, you know, sleep or take a nap after work and they were loud, but it wasn't bad. It was something that I was already used to really.

LT: Definitely. With everything that happened and so quickly, how are you feeling emotionally? And how were the people around you coping?

PG: Um, I was fine. Honestly, it was scary to see so many people getting sick and just the country really like falling apart kind of.

LT: Yeah, totally.

PG: I didn't really go out a lot like I did in the summer, or I mean, I guess 00:05:00before that, I, you know, I really just spent time with my friends that I had been hanging out with. I didn't really go do other things.

LT: Yeah. And speaking of friends, did you stay in contact were the with them? Or how were you guys handling everything?

PG: Yeah, so we all lived all my friends live in Neenah. I mean, I have friends in Oshkosh, but at the time, I just hung out with my Neenah friends. My boyfriend lives like five minutes from my house. So I went over there a lot, but we didn't really go out and do anything. It was just a lot of watching movies.

LT: Definitely. And then you said you had a job? Right? During COVID You worked at Kwik Trip. Right?

PG: Mhm.

LT: Okay. And so how was your work affected? Was it affected at all?

PG: Um, yeah, it was. Obviously, we had to start wearing masks. And then, you know, people would get sick at work. And it was scary. Like, oh, my gosh, I was 00:06:00just working with them. And now they have COVID. And at that time, we didn't really know exactly like, the potential of what COVID could be. So we didn't know much, you know, it was scary. Other than that Kwik Trip didn't really change as a company. I mean, it was always open. So I think, like the places that did shut down that sucked for people, but we just we were still up and running.

LT: Good. Alright. And then if you are willing, can you tell me about how COVID affected you financially? Did you guys have any financial aid issues?

PG: I wasn't affected financially. I don't think my parents were either because their jobs were still up and running. I mean, I wasn't even in college yet. So financially wasn't really an issue. And that whole time I really just worked. So I just made money the whole time, which was good.

LT: Yeah. And then we're going to talk about fall of 2020 now. So I know you weren't here for spring of 2020. But when you learned that UW-Oshkosh was 00:07:00returning to in person classes for the fall of 2020. What was your reaction?

PG: Well, I had been coming from a gap year, so I wasn't in school. I didn't know what college is like yet. But in high school, obviously, we weren't in 2019 we weren't wearing masks and COVID wasn't a thing. So it was weird to go to that. You know, I went to my in-person classes with a mask on and we couldn't really sit close to a lot of people it was it wasn't, it didn't feel like the college experience that I should have been getting.

LT: Totally Yeah. And then that semester, UW-Oshkosh chose to offer some classes in person, but mostly online. What did you choose to do in this new reality? Why was that at the time the best choice for you? And do you feel that retrospect, that was the right choice to make?

PG: Um, I mean, I had like half and half. So I had a few online classes and a 00:08:00few in person. I know myself, and I know that I learned better in person. I took an online math class first semester, which I actually had to retake second semester, because I did not do well.

LT: Yeah.

PG: Math online, it's just not. Not good.

LT: No totally.

PG: So I learned from that. But I think it was a nice option for those who were scared to have in person classes. I wasn't really, but I just wanted to kind of see what it was like to in person and online.

LT: Definitely. And then what was like life like you once UWO came back. I know that you technically weren't here. So how was your first semester of college?

PG: So it was okay. I commuted from Neenah I didn't live in the dorms or anything, just to save money. It was weird. It was that's the best way I can describe it as it was just lots of driving back and forth. You know, there were 00:09:00online classes in person. But it was just Yeah, it was just weird.

LT: Definitely. And then how do you feel about the COVID protocols that were in place at UWO? The masking, the testing of those living in dorms, and being put in quarantine because of COVID or close contact?

PG: Um, I think they did all that they could. I don't think anyone was prepared. I mean, they did have the summer and a lot of the spring to prepare for this, but no one prepares for a worldwide pandemic, you know, but I think the whole social distancing and masking was good and the testing. I think it's all important. And I think that's part of the reason why our numbers started to go down.

LT: And I know that you said, you play soccer for UW Oshkosh. How did COVID affect playing soccer?

PG: So that 2020, the Fall 2020, was my first college year. I would have been here in 2019, but I tore my ACL for the second time. So I decided to take that 00:10:00gap year, just to rehab my knee and work. So this was my first ever season coming back.

LT: Okay.

PG: And our season had been canceled because of COVID. So we practiced. We yeah, we just practiced, but we had to practice with masks on. It was very weird. But honestly, for me, I think it was kind of a blessing in disguise, because I could have just jumped into soccer and that's not really what I wanted to do coming off of an injury. So I was able to ease into it, which I think was good for me.

LT: So all of your games got canceled or?

PG: Yes. So all of our games got canceled for fall, which is usually the season we play in. We had two scrimmages in the spring, which didn't count. But this is when COVID got better. So we were able to play without masks in the spring. But fall, it was all very COVID protocol. And, you know, we had to social distance 00:11:00play with masks and girls got COVID on the team. We had to skip practices, you know.

LT: Yeah.

PG: But yeah.

LT: And so then now, are you still playing soccer with UW Oshkosh?

PG: I am. Yeah, we actually just had a really good season. It was the first season back for a lot of people for everyone. And we won conference title and then the conference tournament, and we made it to the NCAA tournament, and it's pretty, pretty special. That's awesome. Yeah, we made a lot of history.

LT: Congrats.

PG: Thanks.

LT: So then I know you were living at home during the time of COVID, fall of 2020, did you find yourself isolating yourself a lot there?

PG: Um, no, not really, actually. I, my family spent a lot of time outdoors. You know, I know they're pushing social distancing and we did and but there were a lot of people walking around outside, just to get fresh air because everyone's so cooped up inside. You know, we just go walked on the street, my siblings who 00:12:00played at the park, and I think that was good. Um, but yeah, I didn't really isolate myself, other than doing homework.

LT: Yeah. And then did your interactions with other people change? Did you become a less social individual because of COVID?

PG: I think we all became less social because of COVID. Like I said, I didn't get the college experience my first semester, because we had to social distance. And I didn't live in the dorms, but from what I was told, it was okay, I didn't really miss much, because not a lot of people were allowed in the dorm rooms. So yeah.

LT: And then did you end up meeting a good amount of new people?

PG: Through soccer.

LT: Through soccer?

PG: Other than that, no, I didn't.

LT: Okay. And then I know, did you have a friend group kind of coming into UWO.

PG: Um, I mainly hung out with my Neenah friends back at home. Um, but I knew soccer girls, so I really only spent time with them.

00:13:00

LT: Okay. And then what was the biggest change at UW-Oshkosh? Well, this is for the spring semester to fall, but just in general, that you kind of notice throughout the fall semester, we can put it there.

PG: Um, I guess I think it got better, I think.

LT: Yeah.

PG: I don't know for sure. It seemed like numbers went down. You know, I feel like I saw more people on campus walking around. So I'm assuming more people chose in person classes. And that was really good to see. It just seemed like it was just a more positive environment, for the most part.

LT: Definitely. And then, did you you'd said that you took a couple online classes, right? You took math and stuff?

PG: Yes.

LT: How did you feel the departments and faculty did when the hybrid approach to education? And were you getting a good education?

PG: Um, I think math, my teacher was doing fine. I think it's really hard to teach math online.

LT: Definitely.

PG: They did all that they could. I did have a writing class that was partially 00:14:00online, partially in person and my professor, she was on the older end, and she had admitted that she doesn't use technology very well. So it was really hard for us to understand what she wanted exactly. And it was just really difficult on the students just because she didn't really know what she was doing.

LT: Yeah.

PG: But then again, it's not her fault. She didn't really prepare for that.

LT: Yeah, definitely. And then in fall of 2021, vaccines are readily available on campus and in fact, strongly advocated by administration at the CDC. What were your thoughts about the VAX Up campaign to get students vaccinated to win scholarships?

PG: Um, for a while, I did not agree with the vaccine. I, you know, I was scared of it. I had heard all these negative things about it. I really did care about other's health, though. Like, you know, I was thinking about my grandparents and 00:15:00stuff. So I got the vaccine this past summer. And I think the scholarship thing is, is smart. I mean, it's pushing people to be safer on campus and do what's right. But yeah.

LT: Yeah, they just came out with the winners the other night for the scholarship. So that was kinda cool.

PG: Yeah, crazy.

LT: Yeah. And then how much do you feel things are getting back to normal? And for that matter of fact, what is normal to you? What would school have to be like for you to call it normal again?

PG: Definitely, without masks.

LT: Yeah.

PG: And I think it is getting better, because the other day they dropped the mask mandate in the gyms and stuff.

LT: And I just found out the library to.

PG: Really? Okay.

LT: Yeah, except if you're in classes.

PG: I think I think that's progress right there. And I think that it's just getting better from here on. I heard there was a large percentage of vaccinated people on campus. So I think that's what they wanted. And I think it's getting better.

LT: Definitely. And then, are there any aspects about COVID life at school you 00:16:00think won't change back?

PG: Um, I think that they're going to offer more online classes now. I think a lot of students learn to prefer that depends on what class of course, but I don't know, I think maybe some people like that learning better. And I think they're going to give make that an option and offer that. But other than that, I think if COVID ever does go away.

LT: Yeah.

PG: I think everything will go back to normal.

LT: Definitely. And then are there any aspects of yourself you think COVID has changed for good? How do you think this historical event might have changed you permanently?

PG: Um, I guess the biggest thing I learned is, you never know what's going to happen.

LT: Yeah.

PG: No one expected that. For me, I think it was a blessing in disguise. Like I said, for some people, it was not. I mean, it's different for everyone. But I 00:17:00mean, I really got to focus on myself in soccer, and take it easy on school because I think the professor's kind of were a little bit more lenient. But life is short, I guess, is the best thing I learned. And, you know, a lot of people lost loved ones to this and.

LT: Definitely.

PG: But yeah.

LT: And then do you have anything else you want to add?

PG: Nope, I think that's good.

LT: All right. Well, thank you for sharing your story with us. We appreciate your contribution to the Campus COVID Stories at UW-Oshkosh.

PG: Thank you.