Interview with Summer Ruff, 11/16/2021

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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´╗┐TZ: This is Taycee Zach interviewing Summer Ruff 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 stories with us. First, could you please pronounce your name and spell it out for us?

SR: My name is Summer Ruff, S-U-M-M-E-R. And Ruff, R-U-F-F.

TZ: And what is your major and year and age?

SR: My major is currently software technology. I'm a sophomore this year and I'm 19 years old.

TZ: For good audio recording, can you tell us your name again?

SR: Summer Ruff.

TZ: So, could you tell me about where you grew up?

SR: I grew up in a very small town called Bloomer, in Wisconsin. It's 30 minutes north of Eau Claire and three hours away from Oshkosh. Very tiny, population 00:01:003000, I believe. There wasn't much to do. It was a lot of cornfields and going to Eau Claire, if you ever wanted to do anything. Yeah, my graduating class was, I think, 100 people even.

TZ: And tell me about your parents.

SR: Um, my dad is a part time science teacher at St. Paul's Catholic School in Bloomer. But he's a full time insurance agent for his own insurance agency, Ruff Insurance. And my mom is a stay at home mom. But she also babysits in her free time.

TZ: Do you have any siblings?

SR: Yes, I have five siblings. It's three older and two younger. The two younger, along with me, are actually adopted. I was adopted from China when I 00:02:00was a year and a half old, I believe. Same for my younger siblings. My younger brother was adopted from Korea and my youngest sister was adopted from China also.

TZ: Oh, wow. Did you always plan on going to college?

SR: Yeah, it had kind of been my plan. I don't really know what else I would do if I didn't go to college. So I kinda was set on getting a degree pretty early on. I wasn't sure what to study. But I knew that I wanted to do something.

TZ: Why did you choose UWO?

SR: Well, actually, my oldest sister went to Oshkosh. And I remember visiting her and I really liked the campus. And then coming back to tour, I believe, my junior year revisiting, I really like the campus and the environment here. And it's not too big, but it's big enough that you meet a lot of new people. Yeah, 00:03:00and it had what I wanted to study.

TZ: Alright, so just to start, how did you find out about COVID-19?

SR: I'm not really sure I remember hearing about it, circulating around school and stuff. And my parents had kind of mentioned it. But no one was really talking about it too much. It was just kind of rumors going around. And if you paid attention to the news, it was in the news here and there. But I don't really remember it being too big of a topic in my town, it kinda-- We kind of waited to talk about it until it was really present. And we were starting to get the beginning of the lockdown.

TZ: And what was your initial reaction to finding out you wouldn't be returning to high school? Because you were in high school, right?

SR: Yes, I was a senior in high school in the spring of 2020, when it was all 00:04:00kind of starting. My initial reaction was, well, we just kind of heard that we were going to be getting sent home for two weeks. And I was thinking, 'oh, an early spring break! We're gonna be home for a couple of weeks, and I'll get a little vacation from school'. And then they started talking a little bit about how they were thinking maybe we're gonna have to extend it beyond two weeks. And I started thinking,' well, there's a lot left in my senior year that I still kind of wanted to do', because there were some senior events and stuff that I had been looking forward to that I was starting to think maybe I won't get to have those kinds of things.

TZ: And when did you start noticing a panic over COVID?

SR: I think once the lockdown started getting extended from two weeks, and it was getting extended beyond that until months is when the panic kind of set in and people realized that this might be more of a big deal than they had 00:05:00initially thought.

TZ: Did you take COVID seriously at first or did it take a while to sink in?

SR: I think it took me a little bit I think it took the lockdown being extended for me to really think, 'Oh, this is becoming a problem', and then when, you know, people started dying and the death rates were rising, I think that's when it kind of set in that this is something that needs to be taken seriously.

TZ: And how did you handle the transfer from in person learning to online with your last few months of high school?

SR: It was really weird because I feel like our school, it was very small. I feel like we weren't really well equipped to be transferring to online schooling. It was a weird transition where a lot of the teachers didn't have great technology. It was kind of Zoom classes, and then posting assignments on Canvas and stuff. But a lot of teachers just kind of let us slide by and gave us 00:06:00kind of throwaway projects to do to finish out the rest of the year. But I think it was really weird. It was. I definitely didn't learn anything. And yeah, I didn't really feel motivated to go watch a lecture and do my homework and write papers and stuff.

TZ: Is there anything that you struggled with, like technology wise, or the homework was rough?

SR: I think the homework was really weird. It was weird not being in a school setting. It was weird having to be at home, and being surrounded by my siblings and my parents and everyone's doing their own thing. But not being at school and having to do homework was hard when I'm just in my room, and I'd rather just lay in bed or watch TV or something.

TZ: Is there anything that you feel like you missed out on with your last few 00:07:00months of high school being spent at home?

SR: Yeah, I think that there was a lot of school events that the school plans for seniors that we missed out on. And obviously, graduation and everything. But our high school does a couple of different things. We have a banquet for the seniors where they hand out awards and scholarships and everything, and they have a really nice dinner. And any student on the honor roll gets to pick a sponsor. And it's just a teacher that you think really influenced you throughout your high school career. And you get to make a little speech and everything and it's kind of fun. And they also do, they call it Senior Tea Off. And the girls in the senior class, go have tea with I think other ladies at the nursing home 00:08:00in town, and then the guys go golfing. And it's just kind of nice to not be in school and it's a little break from everything and kind of leads up into graduation.

TZ: And did you have a graduation ceremony?

SR: They debated it for a really long time whether or not they would do anything for graduation. They put together a little slideshow when we were supposed to graduate. And I think they set off fireworks that night too. But then we eventually did have an actual ceremony. It was just late into the summer. And they had to do it outside, which usually it's inside the high school gym. And we did it on the football field and they had to split our class into two. So some of us were earlier in the day and then the other half were after them. And we 00:09:00were all spaced out in the bleachers and it was not how a normal ceremony was. It was pretty quick, just you get your name called and you grab your diploma and then kind of got kicked out.

TZ: Did you have a job when the pandemic hit? And did you continue to work?

SR: Yeah, so I had a job. I just started a new job at the local daycare in town. So I just started there. I was working only for a couple months when the lockdowns started. And once we got sent home and everything, I did take about a month break from work because my dad is very immunocompromised. So we were really worried about everything going around and we didn't want to risk contracting anything and bringing it home. So I waited a while until things kind 00:10:00of seemed like they were going to be okay. And we started easing up on what we were doing at home. So then I went back to work, and I worked for the rest of the summer.

TZ: And did COVID impact your parents' jobs?

SR: Not as much. My mom, she just, she's just a stay at home mom. But she did have to stop babysitting the kids that she was looking after. And my dad, it was really just his teaching that was affected. So he couldn't do in person, he had to transition to online teaching, which was a bit of a struggle for him. He's not the best with technology. But his insurance agency, he just works from home. He has a home office downstairs in our house, so that wasn't too much of a 00:11:00problem for him. It was pretty much normal.

TZ: So with your dad being immunocompromised, how did your family follow the CDC guidelines?

SR: Yeah, yeah, we followed the CDC guidelines pretty closely. Whatever they were sending, any updates they made is what we would do. We stayed home. Most of the time, we didn't leave much. It was just my mom or dad would go out whenever we needed any groceries and stuff like that. But me and my siblings would never leave the house and anything that we did get, we would sanitize like crazy before we really handled anything. And yeah, we, anytime we would go out, we will be super cautious. Once we did start going out, it was a lot of social distancing. Like washing your hands like crazy and wearing masks anywhere we went.

TZ: So the summer of 2020, since you were out of work, there wasn't much to do 00:12:00and you had a lot to stew on,. Did the pandemic ever make you consider a gap year or even a change in where you went to college or how you went to college?

SR: Yeah, during that point, I feel like because I wasn't really seeing anyone, I didn't get to see friends or other family or anything like that. And I think that because of that, I was really, like this fall, like, 'I really want to go to college. I want to see people. I want to be social again, and make friends and everything'. But, I was between. I started debating other schools and stuff in downtime, or whatever. And I was between UW-La Crosse for a really long time. And I actually was fully committed to going to La Crosse until I believe the end of July is when I decided 'I'm going to go to Oshkosh instead'.


TZ: So what effects did COVID have on the relationships with your friends and family?

SR: Let's see. With family, it was a little weird not getting to see them all the time because we all wanted to keep our distance away from each other to keep each other's families safe and everything. And with friends it was really weird not seeing them. Changing from seeing them everyday at school and getting to hang out with them after and everything. Kind of just-- whenever you wanted was really weird going into not seeing them for months on end. Yeah, it drove me a little crazy not being able to see anyone and just kind of being stuck at home but I mean, obviously it was what was right at the time. But yeah, it was kind 00:14:00of weird not being able to talk to others. Well, I mean, you could talk to them and stuff. And we did a lot of video chatting with other people, with friends and family just to check in and it was nice to see that they were doing well and stuff.

TZ: What did you do to stay sane during the pandemic? What did you do in your free time?

SR: Oh, man. I did a lot of exploring my artistic side. My mom, she was going a little stir crazy having her three youngest step stuck at home with her. So she ordered all of us these huge paint-by-numbers. Like super, really big and intricate paint-by-numbers and she sat us down at the table and was like, 'You guys are at home all the time. So you guys are going to finish these and this is your Christmas present to me'. So she was putting all this pressure on us. And 00:15:00she was like, 'you're going to paint these and you're gonna have fun'. And we're like, 'okay'. But it was actually kind of fun to have something to do. And it took up a lot of time, obviously. But it just kind of kept your mind off of things, you kind of forgot that you were stuck at home, not having much to do. And it was, it was kind of fun. Because then my mom, I think that being stuck at home took a little bit of her sanity away, because she, for whatever reason, decided to let me paint one of our closets in the hallway, which she is super protective of her house. And it's like, we can't touch the walls of the ceilings and everything has its place. So it was a little weird that she was suddenly just like, 'yeah, you can pick whatever you want on this'. So I spent five hours painting a closet just because I was bored. And it was pretty fun. And it's still there. I'm surprised she hasn't painted over it yet.


TZ: How do you think the pandemic changed your personality or your outlook on life?

SR: I think personality wise, before pre-pandemic and everything, I was very shy and antisocial. I had a very small group of friends that I kind of stuck to. And I was never too keen on wanting to socialize, or put myself out there and do things with other people, I kind of just wanted to stick to my people and what I knew because it was familiar. And then during the pandemic, being stuck at home and everything, I think that that isolation kind of pushed me to want to socialize. And not being out of contact from everyone, I just decided, 'I should talk to more people, I should socialize because you have the chance now'. And yeah, so I think that I'm a lot more outgoing and willing to talk to people and 00:17:00do things than I was before.

TZ: Were there any issues with mental health or addiction in your family unit?

SR: Yeah, I think because I had so much family there with me that we stayed pretty healthy mentally. There were, it was kind of up and down with everyone. There were hard days where it was kind of all hitting you at once. And there was just a lot of stress and anxiety, and a lot of loneliness, being cut off from friends like that. And some days, we would just hole ourselves up in our own rooms and just kind of wallow in our own self pity. But I feel like because we were all there, it brought us closer together. And I feel like we helped pull each other out of those tougher periods.

TZ: Did you or anyone you know, contract COVID in the summer?


SR: In the summer, I don't believe anyone had then. I got it later in the fall. Right before winter break, which kind of sucked. So I had to quarantine at home in the basement. And yeah, that was-- that was a moment.

TZ: To go off of that in the fall of 2020, did COVID impact your choice of whether or not you lived on or off campus?

SR: Yeah, I had debated it for a while. Because we already knew that there was going to be online classes, there wasn't going to be a lot of in person things, which was expected. So thinking about that I was just kind of debating the quality of education I would receive. And you would save a lot of money, obviously, staying at home and not having to pay for room and board and 00:19:00everything. Considering if you were online, it would make no difference really whether or not you're on campus, but I think the social aspect of being on campus is what was the deciding factor that I wanted to come to Oshkosh and live in the dorms and everything.

TZ: So when did you-- did you move in on campus in the fall of 2020?

SR: Yeah, I moved in right at, I believe it was September 5 or something like that. I moved in a day after my roommate did.

TZ: Did you have any safety concerns when you first entered UWO?

SR: Yeah, I definitely was a little concerned about health and everything. Having just not really came out of a pandemic but out of the lockdown and everything and having seen the severity of it, I was a little concerned about 00:20:00the precautions that the campus would be taking to make sure that everyone stayed safe and healthy and everything. But Oshkosh kind of ensured everyone that we would have measures put in place that to kind of keep everyone a little safer, like social distancing. And the online classes and any in person classes were kind of limited numbers and spaced out and everything. And then the mask mandate, of course. So I think that that kind of reassured me that being on campus would be okay.

TZ: So you think that Oshkosh handled protocol pretty well?

SR: Yeah, I think given the time, everyone was a little unsure about what was going on and everything. But I think that, given the situation, Oshkosh handled it pretty well. The university, I think, did a really good job of monitoring safety and health and everything, and making sure that we kept our numbers down.


TZ: Is there anything that you would have changed?

SR: I think maybe some of the social aspects were weird. Like, the dining, we couldn't eat or anything, you had to take a container and just kind of go and eat somewhere else. And that was a little weird. Because you didn't really see anyone with all of the precautions put in place, there wasn't a lot of social events. So there wasn't a lot of getting out and meeting people through the campus. And I think that, while they were being precautious and everything, I think that they could have helped the social aspect of campus life a little more and maybe offered some more events to get people out there.

TZ: So were you concerned about social aspects, not just clubs, but making 00:22:00friends even though you lived in the dorms?

SR: Yeah. Right away, I was really worried about making friends and everything since our interactions with people, were going to be limited as is. And going into freshman year, I was still pretty shy and wary about putting myself out there to introduce myself or-- I was always stressing about, like, 'what am I going to say to people?'. Like, 'how do I keep the conversation going?', and all this stuff. And so I was a little concerned about whether or not I would make friends at all freshman year. But somehow, the hall that I was living in, we all met each other. And somehow we all became really close friends. So I didn't really have to worry about making friends outside of that, because I was just kind of given all these friends that were kind of forced to live next to each other.


TZ: And since you were in the dorms, and the vaccine wasn't available yet, didn't-- were you getting tested?

SR: Yeah, I got tested every week, as well as everyone else did. And I kept up with it pretty well. I just kind of wanted to make sure I was doing my part and making sure that I was not only making sure that I was healthy, but that I was helping keep others healthy around me.

TZ: And you said you got COVID. Was it during the school year or was it during winter break?

SR: It was during the school year. I had been quarantined in October, late October, it was the week of Halloween. We had a close contact the person across the hall from us. We were friends with her roommate. So she got put down as a close contact being her roommate. And then she also put me and my roommate down 00:24:00as close contacts because we lived across the hall. So we all got sent to Gruenhagen and we had to quarantine for the two weeks, which felt like an eternity. And we missed Halloween and everything which kind of sucked because it was something we were really looking forward to. And then in December, it was the week before winter break. My roommate Haley(??), she'd been feeling a little sick, so she wanted to go get tested to see if she got COVID. And I remember it was really early in the morning that she got a phone call. It was around seven in the morning, I believe. She had a phone call from the health center telling her that she had tested positive for COVID, and she was freaking out and she didn't know how to tell me because she thought that I would be upset because we had to go back into quarantine. But it was okay. We called our parents and told 00:25:00him everything. And she actually went to Gruenhagen again to quarantine. And I went home to quarantine in the basement. And then I ended up-- I tested positive because I wanted to see if I was positive or anything. Since I was living in a room with her, I figured the chances were pretty high. So I ended up testing positive. So, I was a little worried that my quarantine was going to go into Christmas. And it was kind of stressing me out because if I hadn't been positive, the quarantine's longer. But I tested positive. So I think my quarantine ended on the 22nd.

TZ: Wow. So what was-- what were your symptoms?

SR: Well, at first, I just kind of had a fever. And I was like, 'well, it could 00:26:00be just about anything, the colds are all around and everything'. I had a fever of 104, I think. And then I was just tired all the time, and I had body aches and everything. So I just laid in bed for most of the day. And I think, I think beyond that, I didn't have many other symptoms. I never got super sick or anything like that. It was really just fatigue and more the body aches and headaches and the fever, which that all went away within a couple of days. It didn't last all that long.

TZ: And do you have the long lasting symptoms? Do you still have some things going on?

SR: I got really lucky. And I don't have any more symptoms or anything like that. I never lost like my sense of taste or smell or anything. My younger brother just tested positive I think it was last month and he lost his smell and 00:27:00taste. He's still, he still can't smell things or taste. He was trying to explain it to me the other day that he can-- he can taste spice, but he can't taste what it tastes like. It's like he can tell if something's spicy or sour or sweet. But there's no taste to it. And I just couldn't wrap my head around it. And I felt really lucky that I never had to go through that.

TZ: That's crazy. Did anybody else in your family contract COVID? Or was it just you and your brother?

SR: I think, actually, it was never confirmed, but they think that my mom had it. Because she actually last spring-- she had a heart attack. So she got brought into the hospital and everything because she was having these crazy 00:28:00chest pains. And she didn't know what it was, so my dad took her in. And they ran a bunch of tests, and they found out that she had had a heart attack. And they kind of traced it back to thinking that at some point, she had gotten COVID and just wasn't aware of it, because she didn't show symptoms. But they think that that's what it was because COVID has been shown to be related to some heart problems and everything. So I think she probably did at some point, if what the doctors are saying adds up. But my dad and my little sister never got it.

TZ: That's good. How's your mom doing?

SR: She's, she's good. Now she's, I think she still kind of has the repercussion effects of it sometimes. Some days are a little harder than others. But she's, yeah, she's fine now. She wasn't in the hospital for long, maybe a couple of days or so, and then she got to go back home.

TZ: That's good. That's really good.


SR: She got lucky.

TZ: M-hm. So onto the class aspect, did you have in person classes in the fall of 2020? Or were you strictly online?

SR: In the fall, most of my classes were online. Two of them had the option to be in person or online. And the one was a math class and I decided to do that online. Since there was a bigger number of people in that class I kind of didn't want to attend in person. But the other was a computer science class. And it was pretty small, about 10 people max, and so I went to that one in person, because I figured it was a lot safer than a bigger class or whatever. It was really spaced out and I felt like, being in-person, I would learn a little better with 00:30:00a topic that I wasn't too familiar with.

TZ: Did online classes affect your learning in a negative way at all?

SR: I think they definitely did. I think that online learning has made me a lazy student. I did a lot of lazy schoolwork, just kind of half effort, just trying to get by and get a passing grade, which in high school was not at all what I was like as a student. I was very hard working, and I think that being online, there wasn't as much pressure to kind of apply yourself as much to schoolwork. And the teachers were just kind of-- they made it really easy. And they would (???) assignments, or just like 'take this online quiz, and then you're done for the week' . And which was nice, because you pass the class really easy, but I feel like I didn't really learn much, because the topics weren't being taught as 00:31:00in depth as they normally were. I think that professors were still trying to make that transition of changing their whole syllabus to be online and not teaching in person with hands-on learning.

TZ: Did you struggle with a lack of motivation or procrastination?

SR: Yeah, I feel like most days, I wasn't motivated to do work, because a lot of my classes were also asynchronous. So it was just having to watch a lecture video in your own time. And it's an hour or so video that you just have to take a chunk out of your own time to watch. And I feel like I wasn't motivated to do stuff like that. I didn't want to do little work, and then have to write my own notes by listening to this video and repeat for an hour or so. And I definitely procrastinate a lot with-- deadlines just didn't feel real to me, because we 00:32:00weren't constantly being reminded in person, 'oh, by the way, your papers due on this day' or whatever. I would just kind of forget that I even had assignments, and then I'd be like, 'oh, yeah, I should probably finish that!'. And I just kind of put everything off until last minute.

TZ: How many classes were you taking in the fall?

SR: I believe I was taking five classes. So I had a full load.

TZ: Was your mental health impacted at all during the 2020 to 2021 school year?

SR: I think it definitely improved. Because I was able to actually leave my house and I could see people and socialize. I could go out and do things with friends and I was meeting people and everything. So I feel like a lot of my mental health was improved by not being cooped up anymore, and being able to go 00:33:00do things and being independent, away from my parents.

TZ: Did you join any available clubs at all?

SR: I'm not in any clubs. But me and my friend David, we did intramural volleyball. The intramurals were kind of different than what they usually are, they made them smaller, to kind of limit the amount of people so they had a twos volleyball team for intramurals. So I picked my friend David, because he's on the club volleyball team at Oshkosh, the men's volleyball team. And we're really good friends. So we decided that in our free time. It was, I believe, Wednesdays, we got to play volleyball in the Kolf and it was just two refs and then our team and then whatever team we played. So it was, there were no 00:34:00spectators allowed or anything, but it was a nice little kind of brain break, getting to go play a sport that I really enjoy and being able to stay active and do things.

TZ: So you mentioned working in a daycare. Did you get back to work during the school year?

SR: I actually, before I left for school, I quit that job. Because I just figured with being three hours away like--

TZ: Oh, gotcha, yeah.

SR: I figured I could either find a part time job here in Oshkosh. Or when I go back find a different job because daycare is not very fun to work in. It's long hours, and it's very tiring. And after doing that for an entire summer, I figured that that was enough time at a daycare for me.

TZ: Have you ever picked up another job?

SR: This past summer, so summer of 2021 after I got home from college, I went 00:35:00and worked in Altoona, which is about 10 minutes away from Eau Claire. And I worked at this bar and restaurant. And because they had an ice cream shop attached to it, so I worked in an ice cream shop all summer with my best friend Morgan. And it was pretty fun. It was a really easy job, you just scoop ice cream. And there are perks, like we just ate ice cream, our whole shift and everything. And it was, it was pretty fun. Everyone there was really cool. And it was definitely a lot better than a daycare with kids all day.

TZ: So you don't work at all during the school year?

SR: I didn't last year. I had applied for a couple of campus jobs, but nothing really worked out. And I didn't want to go to town to work, which it's not a 00:36:00hard walk. But I don't know, I was just too lazy to make the effort to go into town and have to work and everything. And I kind of figured with my first year, I would be busy enough with trying to figure out my way of-- being away from my parents and trying to make friends and get everything together and pass all my classes and everything, that I figured that I could put off getting a job. But this year, I got a job on campus with the parking services.

TZ: Oh that's cool. So what do you do at that job?

SR: It's a lot of busy work, it's just we have to take care of any tickets that come through. If people feel like they shouldn't have gotten a ticket, which is most of the time, they can come in or call usually. And they'll just explain 00:37:00what happened and everything. And I'll have to go into our system and look at the whole situation that happened and then tell them that they have to in fact pay the ticket, which they usually are not happy about. Or we also sell all the permits to any campus residents or the Fox Valley. And then any visitor permits and passes and stuff like that.

TZ: Is it work study?

SR: No, it's just a part time campus job.

TZ: Do you feel like having that part time job impacts your schoolwork at all?

SR: I feel like-- so I kind of get to pick my hours. And I feel like I spaced it out enough that I have a pretty nice work and school balance. And most of the time I get to work on homework while I'm there. But I think that it kind of helps me stay organized, since I have a routine to stick to and I know that 00:38:00after class I'm going to go to work, and then after work I'm going to do the homework that I didn't get finished and everything. And it kind of just keeps-- it gives me structure, I guess.

TZ: All right. Now moving on to the spring of 2021, was the spring semester easier to adjust to than fall?

SR: I think so. I think after the first semester, you kind of get the hang of online classes. And any in person classes, I think that they were offering more in person classes then. And I think that it was easier, since you had a whole semester to kind of get used to live on campus, and you kind of by then had found some of your people that you stuck closely to, and I think it was an easier semester to navigate through.

TZ: Did you have more in person classes?

SR: I think I had a couple. I had-- I had another computer science class that 00:39:00was in person. I really can't remember what classes I took, that feels like so long ago. I think most of the other ones for kind of hybrid online classes. For some days, I did have to come in person.

TZ: With more in person classes, what were your first thoughts with the vaccine being readily available?

SR: With the vaccine, at first, I wasn't too sure about it. It was in its early stages, and everyone was saying different things about them. It kind of seemed a bit experimental at the beginning, so I wasn't too sure. But once they became a little more solid with in person classes, it seemed like the next step for taking safe precautions of being on campus and being around people. And I kind 00:40:00of wanted to help get us back to normal living and I figured getting the vaccine is what we kind of need to do in order to get back to where we were.

TZ: And how did you feel about the VAX-Up campaign that UWO put up?

SR: So that came out after I got vaccinated.

TZ: Oh, that's a bummer.

SR: Yeah. So-- but I still thought that it was a really, really good campaign for the campus to have. And I thought it was smart, because I mean, any college student is going to go towards free money. And I think that it was a smart way to encourage the people on campus to get vaccinated. I think it was a good incentive. And even though it didn't really apply to me as much anymore, since I'd already been vaccinated, I think that it's kind of what really helped get 00:41:00our numbers up to where they were. I believe we have over 70% of campus vaccinated now.

TZ: How did social interactions change for you during your second semester?

SR: I think that we went out a lot more, we went and actually saw the city of Oshkosh. I feel like first semester, I wasn't ever really downtown or anything, we didn't do much. But second semester, me and my friends would go out to eat and hang outside with friends more, and we would go and actually do things outside of the dorms and just being on campus.

TZ: And what did you do in your free time during your second semester?

SR: Free time was a lot of just spending time with friends. We would go outside once it started warming up a lot. And we would just kind of bring all of our school stuff and lay out blankets and sit in the grass, and just kind of do our 00:42:00schoolwork and enjoy being with each other. Me and my friends would also play a lot of volleyball outside just to kind of keep us busy, or we'd throw around a football with everyone. It was just kind of keeping ourselves entertained so we didn't get bored.

TZ: Do you think professors were a good help during the whole 2020 to 2021 school year?

SR: Yeah, I think that they really handled the whole situation pretty well. I mean, it was a tough thing for everyone on campus, especially professors, because they kind of have to change everything that they've been doing for however many years and I think that they were really understanding for students. I think that they kind of gave a lot of leeway to us because they understood that we were living in unprecedented times and that we struggled with a lot of 00:43:00things, too. And that it's we're all-- They're not the only ones going through changes. It's the students that have to kind of readapt, too. And I think that they really helped everyone get through it.

TZ: How do you feel that things are getting back to normal?

SR: I feel like we're pretty close to being back to normal. I mean, our masks mandate for the city is gone, and everything. So when you go out, you don't have to wear a mask, it's more of just on campus now. And even on campus, they're slowly lifting our mask mandates. Depending on the areas, I believe, it's really just in class and in Reeve and Blackhawk that you have to wear a mask now. And I think that things really are going back to kind of normal. I mean, sports are back and you can attend and everything, and there's a lot more people on campus 00:44:00now. People have come back from staying at home or taking a gap year or whatever they did.

TZ: What would school have to be like for you to call it normal?

SR:I feel like for campus to be completely back to normal, I feel like the last thing would be the masks being completely gone, which I'm not sure how long that will be, because I think that they are a smart precaution to be having on campus. But I think that, yeah, that would be the last thing to kind of solidify that we're back to normal.

TZ: Are there any aspects of yourself that you think COVID has changed for the better?

SR: I mean, like I mentioned before, I feel like I'm a lot more social. And I feel like I'm a lot more outgoing than I was before. But I'm also-- I feel like I'm more aware of the impacts that a sickness can have on other people, and I 00:45:00take it a lot more seriously than I did before. Illnesses didn't seem like that big of a deal to me, they kind of seemed-- because I don't get sick often. They didn't seem important because they didn't directly affect me. But then after seeing how big of an impact a single disease can have on everyone around you, I feel like that changes your outlook, that there are things that need to be taken more seriously and there are precautions to be taken.

TZ: Do you think that there are aspects of the world that are going to be forever changed after this?

SR: I feel like there are. I feel like-- in general, I feel like people are going to be a lot more precautious with health and safety precautions regarding that kind of stuff. I feel like people are a lot more aware of the things going 00:46:00on and aware of what they can be doing to help others, like extra sanitary precautions and stuff like that.

TZ: What do you think future generations will think when they look back in textbooks and see that we lived through this?

SR: Yeah, I feel like it's gonna be really crazy to look at because it's something that you don't really understand the extent of unless you lived in it. So looking back at all the things that were going on, like toilet paper outages, that's something that you think would never happen and people were just kind of going stir crazy and I think the-- all of the isolations and the quarantines and the lockdowns are going to be really weird to look back on because that's another thing that you wouldn't really think about unless you live through it. But I think that it'll be a good historical event to learn from and apply in the future.


TZ: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

SR: I think that about covers it.

TZ: Thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate your contribution to the Campus COVID Stories at UW Oshkosh.