For college students, quarantine life means piano, art and push-ups

Coronavirus fallout has caused a shift in the way people carry out their day-to-day lives. States have issued stay-at-home orders, which have flattened the curve of the virus in sections and millions of Americans are now in lock-down.

​The map below shows the states and localities that had issued orders as of a couple of weeks ago. Statewide orders are marked in black, partial orders including cities and counties are gray and those that had issued no statewide or county orders are marked in blue. (Early stay at home orders have been shown to be effective.)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide “Safer at Home Order” on April 1. Before that, various counties and cities had already placed their own stay at home orders.

​Facing the new reality of being limited to their houses and going out solely for essential services during the last few weeks, are Americans adjusting to this quarantine? ​With social distancing guidelines and “Stay at Home Orders” still in effect at least until April 30, how are people using this extended time at home to keep themselves busy and entertained?

Instagram user Mubin Khan participating in the push-up challenge. Courtesy of Mubin Khan.

In an informal, unscientific SFMN poll of 42 people, a simple question was asked: “What is your go-to form of entertainment”? The most selected of four answers was using social media. This was followed by watching TV shows and movies.

Social media has had a huge impact on keeping people entertained and allowing them to be creative.

Instagram specifically has given users a unique way to communicate with others. Challenges are distributed through the Instagram Stories function. A user posts photos of themselves doing something, common such as athletics, and then tags multiple users, challenging them to complete that challenge.

One common trend during March was the #pushupchallenge.

While social media is the dominant form of entertainment for many people, others are using this extra down-time to focus on hobbies or interests that normally would be impossible due to a lack of time.

Melissa Leuchtenmueller, a student at Florida International University, is using this extra free time to develop a consistent workout routine.

“In high school, I had a very consistent routine because of my class schedule,” said Leuchtenmueller. “Once I started college I completely fell out of that routine because I no longer had that set schedule.”

After four years of trying to have a consistent routine due to the pressure of college life, this quarantine has allowed Leuchtenmueller that opportunity.

Leuchtenmueller’ experience in quarantine has not had little other affect on her since she is mostly a homebody, “The adjustment of having to stay at home for the entire day and not having to go out anywhere hasn’t affected me much,” she said. “It does become more of a reality when I do go to places like the grocery store and you see a lot more people taking protective measures.”

Being at home has not limited Leuchtenmueller when it comes to social interaction. On the days she works out, she is joined by friends through group video chat.

Another hobby that Leuchtenmueller has been allowed to pursue more frequently during this quarantine is cooking.

Meals prepared by Leuchtenmueller. Courtesy of Leuchtenmueller.

“Since I don’t have to go to class I have more time to cook at home,” she said. “I usually cook for my family about three to four times a week; I love it.”

Others have not accepted self-isolation so easily.

It has been tough for Stephanie Francisco to adjust to these stay-at-home orders. She’s an extrovert, so being alone has been daunting.

“It is definitely different from when you’re forced to stay at home than when you’re willingly staying at home,” said Francisco. “It has taken its toll on me.”
But, her newfound freedom of time has allowed Francisco the chance to revisit a lost passion; painting.

“The biggest way I’m able to be in the zone with myself is through my painting,” she said.
Art has always had a profound effect on Francisco. Being raised in a military household with parents who held older values, self expression was something that was often pushed aside. Through painting she was able to find an outlet to express those emotions that she previously held back.

“It opened up an entire new world for me,” she said. “ I could express all the emotions I couldn’t through color.”

Painting by Francisco. Courtesy of Francisco.

It has been a year since Francisco fully devoted herself to painting. She realized that time was a huge obstacle when it came to working on a piece.

“In the past year, I have made the painful realization that you cannot rush art. It takes time to make and it takes time to make something of quality,” she said.

Her attitude towards painting is a strong aspect of her character. It will always be with her.

“I won’t stop and will never stop. I don’t see any sign of me leaving my art.”

Another artist who also feels the same way as Francisco, is FIU student Ana Bolivar. She is using her spare time to reacquaint herself with the piano. She is classically trained and has been playing since she was 8 years old.

Her devotion to the piano dwindled as she started her college years.

“I gave it up after entering college, unfortunately, and I’ve always had a desire to pick it up again,” said Bolivar. “It’s a very time-consuming skill to hone.”

She attributes a lack of motivation and preoccupation with her university studies to putting aside her piano playing.

​On the piano, she is trying to regain her dexterity. “I’m using simple pop songs or video game music I like, and I’ll eventually start getting back into the classical repertoire that I could play before,” she said. “ It will take a lot of time and dedication though.”

Reflecting on the future of her piano playing, Bolivar is optimistic that she will keep it up. “I hope I can keep this up even long after this quarantine is over,” she said. “I just need some structure in my practice regiment.”

Julian Quintana is Senior at Florida  International University pursuing a degree in journalism who is graduating in the spring. He has been reporting on stories in the town of Cutler Bay and wishes to pursue investigative journalism after graduation.