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How to go into quarantine eight times — and make it out in one piece

| Monday, May 3, 2021

I have written three different versions of this piece. All three were written in what I thought at the time was my last stay in quarantine. Now, I can say confidently this is my last time in quarantine (because I actually have COVID). In this piece, which I have put more effort into than any submission of work during my time at Notre Dame, I will give a power ranking of the locations I quarantined at, my 10 tips for success and if I have any leftover space, some general life thoughts that I was able to realize during my time.

For reference, these are my quarantine stays:

  1. October 14-18 at The Foundry South: Contact traced, negative, alone
  2. October 25-30 at University Edge: Contact traced, negative, in an apartment with 5 roommates
  3. November 14-16 at Embassy Suites: Symptoms, negative, alone
  4. February 25-March 4 at Hampton Inn: Contact traced, negative, alone
  5. March 10-March 16 at Fairfield Suites: Contact traced, negative, alone
  6. March 24-March 31 at Embassy Suites: Contact traced, negative, alone
  7. April 9-April 16 at Holiday Inn Express: Contact traced, negative, alone
  8. April 20-April 29 at Embassy Suites: Tested positive for COVID, alone

That makes for a total of more than 50 days in quarantine during the 2020-2021 academic year.

Power Rankings:

I was in six different places, but I was in Embassy Suites three times.

Number 6: Hampton Inn

My fourth time in quarantine was for a week in the Hampton Inn. The reason this is at the bottom of my list is for two big reasons. The first is that the A/C unit by the window would not shut off from blasting cold air out, for seven days straight. I even tried covering it up with my comforter, but then something started to smell weird and the comforter got really warm, so I took it off. The second reason was that the faucet in the bath leaked, nonstop. It had good views of the McDonald’s drive thru, though. 

Number 5: Holiday Inn Express

The Holiday Inn was a weird stay, and I heard even stranger stories from friends here. I had two big beds which is nice; my view is not great, but I can hear music and liveliness from Cheers during the weekend evenings. Supposedly someone escaped from here, so one night security had to come and check that I was both in my room and that nobody else was in there. The Holiday Inn lacks the certain x-factor that other places have.

Number 4: Fairfield Inn & Suites

The Fairfield Inn & Suites was a nice stay, but I got lucky with my room. Some of my friends got much worse and smaller rooms. In room 512, I had two TVs, and a separated living space. The window opened to a nice view of campus and the Sculpture Park and the A/C unit worked well. The interior designer knocked it out of the park here, because even the bathroom had a cute little framed photograph of a bunch of doorways across the ND campus (it’s the little things that count).

Number 3: The Foundry South

The Foundry South was my rookie season in quarantine. I remember texting my family group chat telling them I was going into quarantine as if it was a big deal (by the seventh or eighth time I don’t even think I told them, they just kind of assume I am always in it now). This quarantine was filled with Netflix binge watching, drive-bys from my friends, Zoom calls with new quarantine friends and even a virtual game watch of the ND football game. Looking back now, it is kind of like when you are a senior in high school remembering freshmen year. Little did I know what was to come.

Number 2: University Edge

Back in November I spent five days in University Edge. The best part about this was that I was actually in a four-room unit with two of my closest friends, so their company made this exponentially more bearable. However, Edge had by far the worst interior design, as it lacked any type of personality. The bed was like sleeping on an oversized piece of toast, with a blanket that was more like a rug. The wall-to-wall carpeting was a nice touch. The weirdest moment happened when I looked out my window one night and there was a stranger with a light saber. I also watched an entire season of “The Great British Baking Show” during my stint here, so I do have some happy memories.

Number 1: Embassy Suites

The Embassy Suites was luxury. Two out of the three times I was there, I was given a two-room suite, with two big beds and a living space. I had two TVs, a desk, a couch, a chair and a big bathroom. I can only imagine how much this room would cost per night on a football weekend. One of my roommates had to spend his 21st birthday in quarantine in the Embassy Suites, but at least we were in a nice hotel. Even though they didn’t open, the floor-to-ceiling windows let in a lot of natural light. If I could spend every quarantine in one place, it would be in the Embassy Suites.

So, there it is, my power rankings.

From my approximately 1,272 hours, or roughly 14% of the past year, that I have spent in ND quarantine this year, I have learned many lessons. Here are my top 10 tips that I have made for you, in case you ever find yourself in quarantine.

  1. When someone is pounding at your door at 8 a.m. on your first morning of quarantine, don’t panic, it is just breakfast. No one is trying to break in or kick down your door.
  2. If you ever try to use your hotel phone to call your friend’s room, make sure you know their room number. There have been a few times I called the wrong person.
  3. If you are looking for some more interaction, try using Airdrop or Bluetooth to send stuff to the people in the rooms around you. Out of my eight times in quarantine, only three people ever accepted and had conversations with me. Shout out to Nate, Carissa and Patricia.
  4. If you want to go even further than AirDrop, try doing morse code with your flashlight out your window. I did this in my final stay, and I was able to exchange room numbers with a random person entirely through morse code. We called each other on the hotel phone, and we became quarantine friends. Shout out to Caroline.
  5. Make/watch TikToks in quarantine.
  6. This is one tip that I learned the hard way, twice. If you are thinking of getting haircut, get one!!! You never know when you are going to go away for a week, and by the time you find out, it is too late to get a trim. Just cut it. 
  7. Spend time working on your get-out-of-quarantine playlist. When you walk out of the Q a free person, you need some good music to listen to.
  8. Drink the absurd amounts of Dasani water bottles they give you. Once you are free, you will never want one again, but staying hydrated is key when you’re locked up.
  9. Bring food into quarantine with you. You save a lot of Flex Points when you’re Q’d up, so the last few times I have brought some Modern Market pizza in with me. The people in the Testing Center think it’s fun.
  10. Do not try and steal the coat hangers from the hotels. Not that I would know, but when you get back to your dorm room, you will realize that the metal rungs on the hotel hangers are designed to be a different size than the typical ones, so they will not work on the wardrobe in your room, and you will be left with useless coat hangers. You will feel stupid, or so I have heard.

Now you have seen my power rankings and my top 10 tips. I hope you enjoyed them. I will finish off my guide with some wisdom on quarantine.

Before the year ends, and we go back to a more normal year next year, take some time to realize how much effort has gone into this year. The hotel employees at the quarantine sites, the security teams, the drivers of the quarantine vans, everyone at the Testing Center and the Covid Response Unit and everyone on campus who has adjusted this year. They aren’t doing this to piss anyone off or “ruin your time at ND,” they’re doing it for the exact opposite reason. So, if you can, even if you don’t say it out loud, thank all of them for making this possible. Without them, you would have been in your room at home all year, and I think this year would have been much worse that way. For each moment I have spent locked up in quarantine, I have started to appreciate my time outside of quarantine even more. Pretty soon, for all of us, we will graduate, and we won’t be able to spend days as a Notre Dame student anymore. If there is one thing that quarantine has taught me the most, it’s to appreciate being a student at Notre Dame, and to realize how lucky we are! There are so many people that would give so much just to be in our place right now, even if that place is alone in a hotel room for 53 days.

P.S. I am going to meet Fr. Jenkins.

John Sebastian “Jazz” Thörn

junior

April 27

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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