A day in my life at Yale: what has (or hasn’t) changed with COVID (part II)

In my first post in this “day in my life” series, I took a look back at my last “in-person” Friday at Yale before COVID-19 hit and changed everything. In this post, I want to talk about a day in my life now—last Friday, to be exact. A lot has changed, but the more I think about it, a lot has stayed the same, too.

7:30 AM: Wake up and get ready. Something about quarantine made me a big early riser. Now, every day, I have a ritual: I make my oatmeal and drink my coffee, giving myself a solid hour of free time before I tackle the day. Honestly, it’s a much better start to the day than the frantic hustle I used to go through to get to class on time.

I love the way the sunlight streams through my kitchen in the morning.

8:30 AM: Catch up on school work. One good/bad thing about remote school: lectures tend to be recorded, which is helpful because I have a lot of flexibility and can rewind if necessary, but is also dangerous because I may or may not tend to fall a bit behind. Today, I actually decided to work ahead (!!) and watch part of a lecture for my Microbiology class.

9:25 AM: Discussion section for Global Catastrophe class. This class, which is an HSHM (History of Science, Medicine and Public Health class) takes us through the history of catastrophe, everything from the Biblical Flood to climate change. Lectures are asynchronous, but I meet once a week for live Zoom section with ~10 other people to go over readings and discuss key questions. In a normal year, sections are a way for students to feel more integrated with large classes, but now, they feel even more essential in building connection.

10:15 AM: Ride the shuttle to get COVID tested. I go twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. Most people go to their residential colleges, but my college, JE, has testing on Old Campus this semester.

My testing site on Old Campus.

11:00 AM: Research at the medical school. Labs have been reopened since the summer; check out my series for more information on what research at Yale is like!

The building at the medical school where I conduct research.

2:00 PM: Late lunch. I met up with Selma, who also researches at the medical school. If you read my last blog post, you might sense a pattern: COVID or not, I somehow always eat lunch with Selma. We used Snackpass to order acai bowls from Sobol, which is right next to our building (highly recommend their Belgian waffles with Nutella!) then ate outside by the medical school.

3:30 PM: Spending time outside!!! I decided to run some errands, picking up groceries from Hong Kong Market, an Asian grocery store. The weather was absolutely beautiful today. So many people were out and about, and I decided to take a walk around campus up Hillhouse Avenue. As I listened to music, I took in the familiar tree-lined pathways and charming old houses, enjoying the sunshine and shutting out thoughts about anything stressful.

Behind a building on Hillhouse; that tower in the background is Pauli Murray, a residential college.

6:00 PM: I headed home, sat outside for a bit with my housemates Niyati, Gabby, and Max, then ate dinner and had a chill night in with them.

As I was writing my first post, I kept feeling a sense of loss, something that most of us have grown so familiar with over the past year that it has become a background, baseline emotion. Clearly, a lot has changed. I’ve said goodbye to a lot of in-person interactions and well-loved traditions—in their place, I’ve gained twice-a-week COVID tests and a whole lot of screentime.

But when I read back that post and compare it to this one, I’m also struck by how much has stayed the same. Negative Space still publishes our interviews each semester and has even adapted events for a virtual format. I still get great food from local restaurants on Snackpass. I still go to classes (although they tend to be recorded or on Zoom), and I still motivate myself with coffee (although I’ve switched to making my own, something my wallet is very grateful for). And even though I no longer live on campus or walk to class daily, the physical spaces of Yale and New Haven—streets, courtyards, grocery stores—persist. On warm days, everyone goes outside and the air feels light and hopeful. Yale, at these times, is as lively as ever.

A beautiful sunset near the house where I’m living this year.

Most importantly, the people have remained consistent. Back during lockdown, I kept in touch regularly with Max, Niyati, Selma, Katherine, Nithy, and many other friends who I didn’t get to say goodbye to. And Yale’s COVID plans for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 have meant that for the past few months, I’ve been able to see them in person.

All this to say, obviously, I’m excited to re-experience a lot of the things in my previous post. And I’ll forever mourn that lost Ari Lennox concert. But maybe, just maybe, the most important things will persevere regardless.