Skip to main content

How I Write and Learn

A Day in the Life: Quarantine Edition

By Rachel

We coaches at the Writing and Learning Center wanted to give a bit of insight into how all of us write and learn. To start off our blog, I wanted to write about what life is like for me in this current moment, as a senior, a writing coach, and a full-time student doing life from home. It’s bound to get a bit messy, but so it is these days. We’re all in this together.

8:30 AM:

The sound of an alarm, someone making noise downstairs, or the dog barking wakes me up. I feel almost as if I’m in high school again, but I’m not. I’m a college senior, not a high school senior, in my last semester at UNC.

A photo of a laptop from the viewer's perspective with a clean, furnished room in the background and a black dog on the far couch.

9:05 AM:

My first Zoom class begins. Twenty-eight students have also just signed in, all hanging out with their video feeds turned off. Some classmates have profile pictures, but most don’t. I do my best to pay attention. In my parents’ living room, I’ve set up a little portable desk, complete with a blanket and coffee. I even have a cappuccino routine now. My dog or cat (sometimes both) curls up next to me. Having my pets around me is one advantage to being home, I suppose.

A photo of a brown striped tabby cat curled up and asleep.

10:30 AM:

I take a forty-minute break. To take my mind off school, I bought a paint-by-numbers painting of a tree, which I’ve been working on with my family and boyfriend. I’m planning to hang the finished product in my apartment after graduation. I like to call it my “quarantine project.”

A photo of a paint-by-numbers canvas, paints, brushes, and rinse water.

11:15 AM:

Zoom, Part II! My instructors are doing their absolute best to teach, and I appreciate their kindness and understanding.

12:15-3:00 PM:

For a few hours, I just wander around. I make coffee, go on a walk, or paint some more. Occasionally, I read. But all the time, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking about the things I could be doing: homework, study notes, my thesis. I’ll be honest: my productivity has taken a serious hit since we became quarantined. Usually, I’m very organized, but I’m having trouble adjusting to this new situation. My ability to focus on schoolwork comes and goes in waves. Rather than do work, I spend hours refreshing the Johns Hopkins ArcGis map of current cases. For the last four years, coming home has meant being on break. I don’t have a regular workspace here. Thankfully, our internet can handle four of us simultaneously working and learning from home, but many, I realize, don’t have that luxury.

Late afternoon:

I take my dog on long walks, often to find trails where she can run around. Exercise, a change of scenery, and sunlight are great for mental health.

A photo closeup of cherry blossoms.


I hang out with my family and do some homework, if I can muster the energy. My family and I have created a new system where each of us picks a movie to watch, and then we randomly sort them. Every six days, after we’ve watched them all, we start over. It’s been a nice bonding experience. Life doesn’t move as fast as it did on campus. Instead of watching basketball games, I’m playing board games and, of course, working on the painting. I am trying my best to enjoy the slower pace.

As a super type-A, highly productive person, I’ve had difficulty accepting that quarantine has and will affect how I write and learn. I know it will get better. Things will start to feel more like a schedule that makes some sense. The warming weather will help my mood, when it comes. Either way, this is a new normal. One thing that has helped me is the connectedness of everyone in the world around this crisis. Informed articles help. Memes can help, too. It’s important to let some humor in, even when things are stressful.

At base level, I’ll miss Chapel Hill in the spring. I’ll miss having graduation and having last experiences with my friends. I’ll miss saying goodbye to my coworkers. Hopefully, I can come back and visit soon. Either way, it’s a #gdtbath. Go Heels.

This blog showcases the perspectives of UNC Chapel Hill community members learning and writing online. If you want to talk to a Writing and Learning Center coach about implementing strategies described in the blog, make an appointment with a writing coach or an academic coach today. Have an idea for a blog post about how you are learning and writing remotely? Contact us here.

Comments are closed.