Adjusting to an extended stay at home

Richard Allen enjoying his freshman college experience on FAMU’s campus before COVID-19. Photo courtesy Richard Allen

The coronavirus pandemic has many college students around the country back home with their parents for the remainder of the spring semester.

Colleges and universities across the nation were forced to close their doors to their students and begin online virtual learning amid the spread of COVID-19.

This has left Richard Allen and many other students who live on Florida A&M’s campus no option but to return home to their families prematurely.

Allen, a freshman mechanical engineering student, was given the command to vacate his on-campus living facility, Sampson Hall, as soon as possible unless individual circumstances interfered.

“I have been home in Pompano Beach for three weeks,” Allen said.

Like many other students, Allen has been trying to adjust to this abrupt change. From living on-campus attending in-person classes to finishing his semester virtually quarantined at home.

“It’s been rough being back home prematurely because it feels as if school is too much of an option instead of being a necessity when I am living on campus in my dorm,” Allen said.

Between the major adjustments, Allen has found a bright side to being back home with his family. 

“I like the fact that I am more comfortable. I am around my family eating home-cooked meals,” Allen said.

Like most students Allen misses on-campus college life and was looking forward to finishing his freshman year the traditional way.

“I miss being in Tallahassee attending my in-person classes, training to participate in track and field, and being around friends,” Allen said.

Being back home because of COVID-19 has other perks besides family time and home-cooked meals. It has provided time for some students to focus on themselves and crafts they normally would not have time for between in-person classes and college life in Tallahassee. 

Ashdynn Kennedy, a junior agriculture business student, has used her time back home to turn her business plans into a reality.

“I left Tallahassee for spring break and went back home to Fort Lauderdale. Since being home I’ve gotten a lot done. I started my new business, Mango Rose Skin Care, visited family members, and ate home-cooked meals. It’s just my mom and I at home so we have been bonding,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy’s choice to go home during COVID-19 was one she made herself. 

“I do not live on campus so, thankfully I wasn’t forced out of my living arrangements. I was not asked to come home, I decided to come on my own,” Kennedy said.

Although Kennedy misses being on her own, COVID-19 has put into perspective what matters most to her.  “I wouldn’t say I miss Tallahassee, but I miss my own space and seeing my friends whenever I want to hang out. I am going to enjoy this time with my loved ones because I can’t get it back,” Kennedy said.

Many students who planned to have an enjoyable spring break are now having an unplanned extended stay at home with their families.

Gerald Williams, a junior psychology student, lives off-campus but went home for spring break. He decided to stay home longer because of COVID-19.

“I planned on coming home but not for that long. I left Tallahassee March 16 to enjoy spring break in Orlando with plans to stay only one week,” Williams said.

As of April 6, Williams had not returned to Tallahassee. He is still in Orlando enjoying his family and the luxuries of being home.

“It feels great being home. I like that I can be around my family and I can eat real food, not just fast food like I would be doing if I were still in Tallahassee,” Williams said.

Williams often thinks about Tallahassee and does not know how much longer he can take being in Orlando away from his college life.

“I miss Tallahassee. Most of my friends are there. I have been ready to leave Orlando since the week after spring break, but I will be returning to Tallahassee soon,” Williams said.

Amid all of the COVID-19 havoc, there are benefits to being quarantined back home with family. This unplanned pause on life has given some time to slow down, recognize what they have, and be thankful.