Extracurriculars, inside: How students are passing the time in social isolation
With little to no human contact, many people have struggled to adapt to self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some students have taken up hobbies — new or old — to relieve stress about the coronavirus or to occupy an abundance of free time that some students now find themselves with. Here are some of the creative ways Rice students are now spending their time.
Cooking and clicking
Samantha Cheng has more than 2,000 followers on her Instagram food account. Previously, she frequently dined at restaurants in the surrounding Houston area and made recommendations to her followers. However, during her unexpected time home, Cheng has expanded into featuring her cooking and baking.
“Since the quarantine started, my posts have gravitated more toward home cooking and baking, but I'm still promoting local restaurants because they need all the support they can get right now,” Cheng, a McMurtry College sophomore, said, referring to her ongoing posts that encourage her followers to order takeout from local restaurants.
On her Instagram page, you can find an entire story highlight that’s dedicated to her cooking. She features dishes that encompass a variety of cuisines and diet restrictions, from red bean cream puffs to oat bowls.
Cheng said she appreciates how her Instagram has exposed her to new people and restaurants across the world.
“I enjoy connecting with people through my blog, whether it's chatting with foodies from around the globe or saving a restaurant to my ‘must-try’ list because the food looks so incredibly delicious,” Cheng said.
More time for TikTok
Known as this generation’s version of Vine, TikTok is a social media platform for users to share short video clips. Avid TikTokers may have viewed a video produced by Jeannie Lee, a Baker College freshman, through her account @jeannieleemj. With more than 7,000 followers and 157,200 overall likes, she has produced viral TikTok videos that have amassed thousands of views on more than one occasion. Disclaimer: Lee also happens to be my roommate, and she has filmed videos about our roommate shenanigans that are entertaining to look back on.
While quarantining at home, Lee has decided to focus on making more videos about living life under quarantine. She has filmed videos that range from recipes for food trends to comedic content about the virus.
“While the COVID-19 situation is devastating, TikTok really cheered me up and helped me to view the situation in a more positive perspective,” Lee said.
Although she enjoys brainstorming and making content for her TikTok, Lee also sees TikTok as a way to spread laughter and joy to her followers.
“I liked how a lot of people were able to relate to whatever I was going through. It provokes creativity and ideas, and you find yourself thinking about content for these videos,” Lee said.
One of the most popular trends on TikTok are the viral dances choreographed by the users. Drew Carter, a Jones College sophomore, enjoys learning these dances and uploading his own performances on his TikTok @thecartermd.
“I like to dance for fun and seeing my other friends make TikTok [videos] inspired me to follow suit,” Carter said. “I have begun making TikTok [videos] as a way to let out energy and [have] a bit of fun in light of everything.”
Besides dancing on his TikTok, Carter also uploads a wide variety of comedic videos about college.
“I think it’s cool how much joy a short video can bring to the creator and audience, and that’s why I love it,” Carter said.
Allison Chang has always wanted a chunky blanket, the kind often seen on Pinterest, but found them too expensive to be worth the cost. But now, with newfound time, Chang has set out to make one herself and save herself the cost.
“I have always wanted to learn how to knit and crochet, and this time of self-isolation was the perfect time to start,” Chang, a Sid Richardson College senior, said.
First, she bought six to nine skeins of jumbo-sized yarn from a craft shop. The yarn was so thick that it required her to knit with her arms instead of needles, but all the efforts paid off once she finished the knitting process in about a week. The total for all the materials was only half the cost of a chunky blanket sold at retail stores. Additionally, she said knitting has kept her distracted while under quarantine.
“Focusing on knitting these chunky blankets is a good break from school work and thinking about everything going on in the world right now,” Chang said.
For her next project, she is planning to make a decorative pouf, which will be more challenging due to the three-dimensional shape.
Since being kicked off campus, music majors no longer have access to in-person private instruction times with their professors. Piano major Teddi Yoo, a Duncan College freshman, has found an activity during this time to polish her musical skills while keeping her boredom at bay.
She improvises to popular melodies like the “Up” theme song or “Paris in the Rain” by Lauv and records it for her followers on Instagram. She is planning to upload these improvisations to Spotify for a larger audience to enjoy her music.
“After realizing that people love my improvisations/covers, I continue doing it because I love making people happy,” Yoo said.
Yoo is a multi-talented musician who leads the Campanile Orchestra as the concert mistress. Not only does she enjoy music — she also finds it cathartic.
“I especially love improvising when I'm super stressed — as cliche as it sounds, it’s my way of escaping reality,” Yoo said.
Yoo isn’t the only Rice student using music to pass the time at home. Allison Smith, a Baker College sophomore, is a violin major who has arranged a series of pop song covers for violin with her brother on the piano. She posts these covers on her YouTube channel, which has even been featured on Rice News.
Smith and her brother have been playing pop songs together since high school. Since they’re unable to deliver public performances during this time, they decided to upload their performances at home for others to enjoy.
“We thought it would be fun to arrange a couple songs each week and post them to bring some joy to people during this scary time,” Smith said.
She is looking forward to creating more covers with her brother for her collection of videos called #CoronaCovers on Youtube.
“It’s been really fun getting to make music with my brother and share it virtually, and I’ve enjoyed finding new songs to do,” Smith said. “We’ve even received some song requests from people!”
Take it out on glass
Grace Chialiva, a Baker College sophomore, has been making her own mosaics since high school by finding colorful vases and mirrors from Goodwill, wrapping them in layers of bags, and shattering them for her project.
“Working on mosaics is really relaxing,” Chialiva said. “I like to take an image or idea, then I sort through the glass to find pieces to put together to resemble the image, just like a puzzle.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of her activities like horseback riding and her summer fellowship at Mount Vernon have been canceled for the time being. While initially devastated, making art pieces has helped her cope with her losses.
“It was especially challenging since I wasn’t able to seek refuge with [my horse] Gino or climbing. Mosaics and painting have caused me to handle it much better,” Chialiva said.
More from The Rice Thresher
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Even though McMurtry College senior Isabel Sjodin was raised in Houston, she didn’t know much about Rice until her junior year of high school. She said the first time she was scheduled to tour Rice she ended up chatting with a Rice student on campus and missing said tour. However, that conversation and a later overnight visit at Sid Richardson College made a strong impression on her.
In his almost 18 years at Rice, President David Leebron said he’s never taken more than four weeks off at a time, despite having the option for a sabbatical every seven years. While he doesn’t know what his future career plans are after stepping down this summer, he plans to take full advantage of his delayed sabbatical.