Mar 30th, 2020, 12:10 AM

Where Are They Now?

By Paulina Trigos
Mia Domenech, my roommate, lounging alongside her quarantine companion. / Image Credit: Mia Domenech
The "new normal" has arrived and as the whole world sits inside their homes, productivity becomes a virtue.

Our community has always been a global one, and quarantine has proved a true indicator of how far our roots can stretch while still being intertwined.

Many of us have returned home until further notice, leaving behind Paris and AUP. Various countries are now obliged to perform a lockdown and command citizens to stay home and quarantine indefinitely. The "new normal" of confinement can be extremely difficult and has allowed us to rethink our old habits and pursue new ones. So, how can we stay productive inside our homes and adjust to this new reality?

When I spoke with friends from Paris, I noticed how we all were striving towards the same goals; pursuing our creative talents, taking the necessary time to focus on our mental and physical health, spending time with family, and concentrating on our studies. “I actually have finished two books in a week. If I was in Paris normally going to school, I wouldn’t have as much time for that,” said Giulia Giordo, a freshman at AUP. 

Many of us have opened Pandora's Box and have actually taken the time to pursue creative abilities and learn how to experiment with our time. 

“I’ve been using my time to write. I feel like a lot of people who like to express themselves in creative ways can take advantage of this by taking time every day to not think about deadlines as much as just sitting and seeing what creative things you can do," said Mary Noorlander, also a freshman. 

With the amount of time we now have, it has become fundamental to continue practicing our hobbies, learn, and build new routines – all while staying home. However, one will inevitably encounter obstacles that interfere with desired goals. Social media and negative news updates appear to be a strong impediment. 

I was feeling very defeated so I did what many students told me was also a productive tip in their list and called my best friend, Mia Domenech, who is also my roommate from Paris.

“My tip would be to not be so hard on yourself," she said. "You don't have to be this extremely productive person all day non-stop, but I feel like a definite balance with productivity is needed.” Mia, who is a photography student at the Paris College of Art, has challenged herself to create one thing each day in order to increase her productivity level and spend her time fully. 

Mia Domenech's quarantine guide. 

Suddenly, I found out I was not the only one feeling overwhelmed by the media.

“I try to read accountable and truthful media sources because I feel like there's so much panic," said Giordo. "I try not to read the news all the time but it's inevitable. We do have to educate ourselves but always remember that our mental and physical healths are the priority."

In these crucial times where education on the virus and life itself appears to be even more essential, many people feel that the exposure to updates from the media is causing more damage than helping the cause. “You can't be too consumed by the media. Then you might experience a lot of negative emotions. Global hysteria can really get to you,” said Domenech. 

As for social media, it can either be the best or worst thing during these times.

“I would be much more productive without it. It would be better if we would use it as inspiration for things to do with our time,” said Stéphanie Bergon, an AUP freshman when asked about the distractions of social media. Many of us have succumbed and looked towards the internet as our safe haven.

Social media, when used appropriately, can give us the right tools to be as creative as we can be. All around social media, people who are confined have started to share their artistic creations in different aspects and varied concepts. “With school work, it has been a little more tricky, as I now have to build a new routine and accommodate my studies into that," said Bergon. 

Studies at AUP have also shifted to an online method in which both students and professors are testing the waters. Although it is the only option we have right now in order to complete our semester and comply with the requisites, many have expressed the new level of difficulty they find themselves dealing with. “The transition to online classes has been pretty difficult for me; I'm not an online learner. I get so distracted while I'm sitting there which makes it more frustrating,” commented Anna Miller, a first-semester student at AUP. 

Taking my time to use the typewriter I hadn't used / Image Credit: Paulina Trigos

In terms of being productive in these times of quarantine, there truly is no guide for it. Productivity has varying definitions for everyone. It can mean watching movies, reading, painting, sewing or even baking.

“I think it's really important to just pick up a book, sit next to an open window and just read," said Giordo. "It is such a simple thing to do and you can just dive into a whole other world and distract yourself from what is going on.” In the end, productivity is about being organized and conscious about the time that we have and how we choose to spend it. 

“It's a challenge we have to face together, said Miller. "I think most people are rethinking what is important to them and what they really want to spend their time doing.” We have nothing but time in our hands, and how we use it is truly up to us. 

The time is now. Pick up that book next to your bed, paint the landscapes you wish to see, and use this time to truly delve into something that makes you forget the circumstances the whole world is facing. "There's a feeling of universality right now that we are all connected and important," said Miller. 

Currently, the world is at a stand-still, it is quiet and static, waiting for the next movement to occur. However, until that happens, the wisest thing to do is to stay safe and make our mark from the comforts of our homes. "The change we can make individually does affect other people and that feeling of connection is leading people to zoom out of life and everyday tasks to think about what they want from life and give back to the world." concluded Miller. This period of confinement, as Miller said, is forcing us to analyze not only how we spend our time but what we wish to do with it.