CL: This is Collin Laffin. I'm interviewing Shahaque Rahim on November 11,2021 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 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?
SR: So my name is Shahaque Rahim. S H A H A Q U E, Rahim, R A H I M.
CL: For the purposes of obtaining good audio recording. Please tell us again.Your name, year, major and age.
SR: My name is Shaq Raheem. I'm a fifth year senior majoring in Accounting andInformation Systems at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and I am 23 years old.
CL: Just to get us started, we like to get to know you a bit. Where did you grow00:01:00up? What can you tell me about it?
SR: So originally, I'm from Pakistan. I grew up in a city called Karachi, andit's one of the mega cities of Pakistan. It's actually like the seventh biggest city in the world, I would assume with almost 20 million people populated over there. So I grew up in Karachi, Pakistan.
CL: Can you tell me about your parents and what they do?
SR: So my parents, my dad is an electrical engineer. He worked for the electriccompany over there that supplies electric electricity throughout the city. He was a general manager over there, and then he took early retirement. Then after that, he started a sole proprietor business of real estate. My mom is a 00:02:00housewife, so she makes really delicious food. I'm a big fan of her food.
CL: When did you start thinking about going to college, and was it always agiven in your house?
SR: Growing up, I was always told that education is important. You need to goout there and get education no matter how you get it, where you get it from. Because what education does is that it helps you grow as a person and helps you develop that personality. So there was a huge emphasis on education in general and my family. Were six siblings, including myself, three brothers, including me, and then three sisters. We all went to school, we all went to college, and 00:03:00
our dad emphasized that you have to go to college, you have to get thateducation because education is an integral part of who you are. Doesn't matter what you go into. If you want to go into accounting, engineering, sciences, whatever you want to do that's a choice that you have to make, but it's important to have that educational background. So education was an integral part of my family.
CL: So what made you want to go to UW-Oshkosh in general?
SR: So back in Pakistan, Karachi, Pakistan, I did my high school, and that wasbasically O-level and then A-level. So O-level was an ordinary level, A-level was advanced level, and that was through Cambridge University. So it was through the Cambridge University Board. It's called CIE (Cambridge International 00:04:00Examinations). My high school was basically through them,
so it really opened up doors for me to apply to abroad universities because Ihad that type of background education that's very vast, and vast knowledge about a lot of things, and in a lot of different areas. So I had a pretty good option of where I wanted to apply where I wanted to go. I applied to three universities. One was UW-Oshkosh, one was University of Winnipeg in Canada and one was Lahore University of Management Sciences(LUMS), which is one of the top notch universities of Pakistan and is affiliated with Harvard. I was accepted to all these three universities and I was given a choice. I had the choice to choose between any of these universities and explore my areas of expertise 00:05:00wherever I want to go, depending on what type of experience I want, per se. I remember I had a conversation with my dad, literally, when I had all three acceptance letters from all these universities, different places, one is in Canada, one is in the United States, and one is in Pakistan but a different city. My dad and I had a good conversation, I was sitting in front of my dad, and my dad basically told me that you can pick wherever you want to go. You can study whatever you want to study. I'm not the one who's going to stop you from making that kind of decision because it's your decision. Whatever decision you're gonna make, I'm going to support you 100%, I'm going to be there for you 100%. Just know that it's going to be at the end of the day, it's going to be your decision. At the end of the day, whatever happens, you're going to know that it was your decision, you made it. Then you're going to because when it's 00:06:00your decision, you have the motivation to make it work. You're not being dependent on other people. If something goes wrong, you don't go back and say, "Oh, it was because of you I took this as you". No it's you taking full responsibility for your decisions, your actions, which I think was the first step towards my independence, of independent living, of making mature decisions. So I chose UW-Oshkosh at that point, and I was like, I want to go to the US mainly because I want to explore different options. I want to learn by traveling, meeting new people. I want to have a diverse experience. I want to strengthen and broaden my knowledge and skill set, and just have a great experience learning and growing.
CL: Okay, let's move into the early days of COVID at UW Oshkosh.00:07:00
At the beginning of spring semester 2020 where were you in your college career?
SR: Spring semester 2020, I was taking my major classes. I was taking accountingclasses. I remember I was in Audit. Pretty interesting class, it was a pretty good class. Actually, as an udit, I was taking Tax, and I think I was taking Cost too. No, I think that I was taking these two classes of accounting and then I was taking information systems classes, and I think there was a business law class in there too, so it was a pretty hefty semester for me.
CL: Okay, what was your living situation? Were you living in the dorms? Were youliving in a house, an apartment?
SR: So I was living in an apartment with two other roommates, close friends ofmine, really good friends. I was just living in an apartment.
CL: Being a college student, how did you think that COVID was gonna affect your00:08:00career? Or your future?
SR: So funny thing is, when the lockdown wasn't a for sure thing. We weren't ina lockdown, just a few days before the lockdown. Spring break was approaching right. Everyone was making plans left and right. So my parents, they came from Pakistan to my sister's house down in Georgia. So they were living down in Georgia for like, it was a week actually, like a week before the lockdown happened they came from Pakistan to my sister's place, and I was planning to go there for spring break, you know, have a chill time with my parents. I had my flight booked just before spring break was gonna happen, and they announced a lockdown. When I heard about the lockdown, I was only thinking about that. Oh, 00:09:00there's going to be travel restrictions now. How am I going to travel to my parents because I want to go and see my parents. It's been a really long time since I've seen my parents. When this lockdown is gonna hit, there's not going to be much chances of traveling around. So I had kind of a lot of things going on in my head, like, oh, what am I going to do? What should I do? And then I obviously talked with my parents about it. I was like, Dad, this is going to happen, it's inevitable that we're going to be restricted. There's going to be travel restrictions. My dad was like, you know what, pack your bags just come right now. Right away, just before the lockdown restrictions. So what I did was packed my bag, packed a luggage, like a hand carry, it wasn't too big. It was just like a hand carry.
And then I took a flight that surely I think two days after or like the nextday. And then I was in Georgia, when I was in Georgia the lockdown happened. There were restrictions, you are not going anywhere. So I was in Georgia taking 00:10:00classes from Georgia, like UW Oshkosh online remote, so that was pretty interesting.
CL: So you actually left before the lockdown happened. So you weren't reallyhere to witness the full lockdown? How are the living situations down in Georgia with your parents and your sister?
SR: One word, phenomenal. So down in Georgia, my sister has a house. It was myparents, my sister, my other sister, my sister's husband, and their daughter, and then me. We were like six people in that house. And everything was great. Classes were online. You were with your family, you were not worrying about 00:11:00rent, you were not worrying. I wasn't worrying about family or food. I wasn't worrying about being away from my loved ones. It was a good time, it felt like we were just in one place, we're all together. Truth be told, I was in Georgia for the entire semester. I didn't come back until like August, actually.
CL: Speaking of being online, and being in Georgia. How did you manage yourclasses, and how was the transition to online learning, especially all the way from down in Georgia?
SR: It was definitely interesting. I feel like there were a lot of loose ends.Especially I think, mainly because nobody was expecting a lockdown. It was one 00:12:00of the first times we were doing remote classes. So you can expect some sort of like latency or like flaws. But in all honesty, I think it prompted me to be more proactive about my education, my academics, because it made me do the things that I wouldn't do in person. For example, like, in person, you already know that you have to be in classes at this time, this time, this time you're going to be doing. After that everything was structured on Canvas, and then you just have to take it out. Then structure around your schedule, make a new schedule for yourself, you kind of have that freehand of what you're going to do, how you're going to divide your day and then just promoted organization in your life, promoted time management. It helped me improve in certain areas, but 00:13:00then again, I would also say that it was pretty tough, because I don't think I learned as much as I should have during the lockdown. I think in person experience is definitely one of the bestnd , and it helps you learn a lot more when you're in classes. And the real face to face interaction with a Professor and with your peers. It makes a difference. Because when you're doing group projects, you don't want to be a million miles away from your group, you want to be actually in a room with them doing the same things just brainstorming a lot of key areas. So I feel like there were some areas that had that that lacked in its own ways. But there were definitely some strengths. It was
kind of balancing out each other.
CL: What were some of the things that you did during quarantine? Did you pick up00:14:00any hobbies and have a job?
SR: I am working as a device bored and tired and I was still working as a devicesupport intern when COVID happened. IT(Information Technology) took a lot of load because IT was mainly responsible for helping professors and staff to assist them going remote, going online. Since everything was online, our assistance, our support also went online. So we had to adapt, not only adapt but we had to come up with ways, within a week, because we had a very short amount of time to help people go online and remote and support them. So it was definitely an interesting time for it at the moment and I was still working. I had remote hours. I was still working full time. It was kind of different 00:15:00because the type of work we would do in person, obviously, you can't do that remotely. I remember that I was writing articles for IT, like KB knowledge based articles, and I was filling my timesheet. I remember doing help desk calls, like doing whatever was available at the moment. Putting in my hours because of that. For hobbies, I would say, I originally have a hobby I produce and like I make music on the side, just for fun. I sometimes post it too. During COVID I made a lot of music. I feel like I toned and honed on my skills of music making and I think I've gotten a lot better in that skill set.
CL: Going back to classes and schoolwork. Did being online affect the00:16:00relationships with your teachers in any type of way?
SR: I was a senior. The thing about being a senior is that you already know yourprofessors. You already know, you already have that kind of connection. I try to keep a relationship with my professors. When everything was online, I still had that relationship with my mentors, with my professors. Because everything's remote, there's a lot of ambiguity, so it made me go and talk to my professors, 00:17:00professors a lot about those ambiguous situations. I think I developed more closeness with my professors at the time, even though we were miles apart physically.
CL: Now let's talk about fall of 2020. When you learned that UW-Oshkosh wasreturning a hybrid in person, online classes, what was your initial reaction?
SR: I was kind of glad because I wanted the in person experience. Then prettymuch after such a long time, coming back to school, having that hybrid sort of experience was something that I was looking forward to. Then again, fall of 2020 was a very interesting time of my life. First of all, pretty much all my classes 00:18:00were remote even though it was hybrid, but all my classes are remote. I was infected with COVID-19 in the fall of 2020. I tested positive, and at that time, I wasn't in Georgia, I came back to my apartment. I was living with one of my roommates at the time. I was infected, I went to the gym, I came back and I felt dizzy that night. Then I woke up with 102 degree fever. Then I was just sweating. I was feeling the pain in my back. Everything was drowsy. I just couldn't taste anything. Pretty much all the symptoms for COVID-19, pretty bad fever. Right away, I went to get tested and I tested positive. Then the following day, my roommate also tested positive because of the close contact. My 00:19:00roommate and I were pretty much quarantined together. It was pretty interesting times and then obviously there was support from professors because I already told them that I tested positive so there were leniencies offered by my professors in exams. They were like, you can take the exam next week if you want to, so that was pretty good. In terms of academically I don't think I did my best during that time because of a lot of different factors like I was infected and then there was a lot of loneliness at that time.
CL: After being infected with COVID and getting over it, were you more lenient00:20:00about going out and doing things? Or did you just go back to how you were before just doing your own thing?
SR: At the time, I had a very tight circle of friends, close, compact, so thesewere the only friends that I would just hang out with here and there. Obviously, when I had COVID, I wasn't going out at all. Even if I had to go get something I would just order it online. Even if it was food, I'd Eat Street it. I had friends who were very supportive, they dropped off food, they dropped off a lot of other things, family friends, too. That was a good thing. I got better within a week, but even after a week, I wasn't going out a lot. Before that I was going to the gym at least, but after that, I even stopped going to the gym. I was just strictly at home. If I wanted to go someplace I would go to Starbucks to do a 00:21:00drive thru, avoid in person experience anywhere.
CL: Do you feel like things are starting to get back to normal regarding COVID?Or do you think that there's still a lot that needs to catch back up, right?
SR: I think as human beings, we are adapting to the situations more. I don'tthink COVID is going to go away, ever. It's just gonna stay and we're gonna have to take a COVID shot, or the COVID shot like a flu shot every other year. It's gonna stick with us, but we're adapting. We're just trying to build around the situation and we're just trying to get the best of the situation. Obviously, there are a lot of people out there who don't wear a mask who are against 00:22:00wearing masks. 2020 showed a lot of people what COVID is and what it can do. It did a lot of damage to a lot of people and so many people don't realize it. It's just that you need to realize because your actions, such as not wearing a mask have consequences, consequences that affect other people's lives. You don't want to do that. It's not a good thing. I think we're just gonna have to adapt and like, keep on wearing masks unless 80% of the population is vaccinated or immunized.
CL: Do you have anything else you want to add?
SR: I want to say in the end, kind of just to relate back to my decision ofcoming to the United States. When my dad and I had that talk and when my dad 00:23:00said, make your decisions, it's your decision. Just a public message--that whatever you do in life, whatever you want to achieve in life, you need to know what you want. You need to list down your goals. You need to know and understand what you want, in life, what you want out of it. Then make decisions, be decisive, be blunt, be open, be true to yourself, be decisive about it and make that decision. Don't worry what's going to happen if it's gonna fail or not. You don't know what's gonna happen next. The thing about taking the risk, the thing about making big decisions and making decisions by yourself is that even if something goes wrong in the future, you're not gonna look back and blame someone else. You don't want to do that. You're going to look back, you're going to own 00:24:00up to the decision that you made. You're going to say I made that decision. I'm going to own up. Whatever screw up I did today, or if things didn't turn out to be the way I perceived it to be, I can go on from there. I can make more decisions because I feel like if I made that decision, I can make so many more decisions right now, that could completely change the way, or completely lead my life into a different direction or in a direction that I want it to go. That's like one of the things that I wanted to add. Thank you.
CL: Okay, thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate yourcontribution to the campus COVID stories at UW Oshkosh.