OSBHA November Newsletter

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In our November newsletter, two OSBHA Student Health Advocates share about the impact COVID-19 has had on their lives. Thank you to Azucena and E for sharing your experiences and photos with us.
How has COVID-19 impacted your mental, physical, and/or emotional health?
Azucena: Covid-19 has impacted me in many ways that include my emotional and physical health. To avoid social gatherings and going out in general, I’ve been staying at home. Living in a small apartment and not having a backyard discouraged me from any exercise. Occasionally I go out for a walk but the cold weather makes me want to go inside ASAP. I started college this fall and transitioning to living in the dorms without my parents sending me off was hard. On-campus, I did not leave my dorm unless to attend class, go to the library, go grocery shopping, or picking up takeout food from the cafeteria. This routine made me afraid of the future because I would question “Is this what college is like? Will this be my college experience for the next four years?”. Thankfully, I had resources and people to talk to who would remind me that my experience was not normal. I was attending my first year of college during a pandemic, and at the time, the wildfires as well.
Here is a picture of outside during the wildfire from my dorm
What have you done during quarantine to stay connected to your friends and family?
Azucena: To stay connected with my family and friends who I have not been in physical contact with since I moved to my dorm, I used technology that was accessible to me to text, call, and facetime them. I’m a mommy’s girl so I called my mom every day regardless of my schedule. I scheduled facetime calls with my sister to talk about our day and at times do homework together (facetime on our phones while we do our homework on our laptops). I’m in group chats that include my closest high school friends and my AVID family (I was part of the AVID program for 5 years). I make sure to send check-in messages or send random funny memes that describe how we may feel about college and college homework. One of the most memorable zoom calls I’ve had was with my friends during Thanksgiving break; we had watched a movie together (one friend played the movie and shared their screen). Even though we muted ourselves to eliminate any outside noise, we made sure to express our comments about the movie in the chatbox. Living in a world during COVID-19 is difficult and scary, but at least, I am not alone in this world.
Here is a picture from a friend of our zoom movie night
What tips would you give to your past self about virtual schooling? 
Azucena: Tips I would give to my past self about virtual schooling is to advocate for yourself. If you can’t concentrate in school because you live in a household with other children who are loud, let your teacher know and ask how they can accommodate your needs. If you have a laptop that is too slow or have no laptop at all, call your school and ask if you can rent one. If you are feeling tired and unmotivated about the school, allow yourself to feel that way because it is perfectly normal. Take a break, or ask for an extension (however, hold yourself accountable to these deadlines). If turning on your camera makes you uncomfortable or interrupts the connection, let your teacher know. Don’t leave your needs unaddressed, this is your education, an education that you have the right to, make the most of this education because you will not always be a middle school, high school, or college student. 
How has COVID-19 impacted your mental, physical, and/or emotional health?
E: It’s been a bit hard some days to have the motivation to get things done because I had so many plans for this year that were all postponed, and it still hurts to think about the fact that I have to wait to be able to do them, but overall I’ve managed to stay at least at a stable level emotionally. It is also really weird to not be able to go to my friends houses when I do need someone to talk to or just be around compared to before quarantine and that’s also been taking quite a big toll on my emotional health when those moments come up. I’ve been slowly finding what ways help me to cope and which don’t throughout quarantine though so I’m figuring out how to keep myself stable, however challenging that may be at times.
What hobbies and interests have you developed during quarantine?
E: For a while I lost interest in past hobbies I had, however some of them have come back during quarantine such as dancing in my free time and just for the fun of it, as well as reading and messing around with the vast majority of different musical instruments in my house. I’ve started trying to learn another language by myself as well, which has been a fun thing to pick up, although it can also be hard at points without a teacher/tutor’s help when I’m more confused on certain parts, it's still a fun extra thing to do when I’m bored nevertheless.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you and your family?
E: My mum, my sister and I have gotten really tired of each other at times but we’ve also become closer during quarantine because we’re with each other 24/7, which has been both a good and kind of weird feeling, especially with my sister because we have a fairly big age gap. Furthermore, it has been super hard not being able to see my dad and his side of the family because they all live in Nebraska. I normally go back every 6-8 months and at this point it's been over a year since the last time I saw any of them in person, which is super odd for me since I’m used to being with them for 2-4 weeks throughout the year. I’ve managed to stay in okay contact with my dad, but it could be better, and I have very broken contact with the rest of the family which is normal during the year when I’m not around them, however it feels weird since I haven’t seen them in so long. Overall, it has affected my family and I both positively and negatively, but nothing too bad or overbearing has come from it.

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