Interview With a Quarantined Student: Cool Vacation Spot or Luxurious Purgatory?

Recently, I had the blessing of being able to speak to my dear friend Ada, a first-year here at Oberlin who was quarantined at the hotel a few weeks ago. I decided to get a little ObieDangerous and ask the hard questions: How was the food? Was the golf cart ride embarrassing? How were the mattresses? 

Laura: So Ada, how did you first realize you might need to be sent to the hotel? 

Ada: I woke up on what I think was a Thursday morning (Thursdays are my busiest days) and I had a sore throat. It was literally out of nowhere. I developed a fever that night and then Friday morning I called the health center because, you know, I was trying to be a good person. They basically were like, “You have to go to Mercy and get another covid test” even though I just had my covid test two days prior and was waiting for results. Then they said they had to isolate me since my fever was so high. 

Laura: Were you convinced you had covid? 

Ada: No. My friend had just gotten her test back, and she’s like one of the only people I’d had close contact with, so I was like, “There’s literally no way.” Even before they sent me into the hotel,  I got my first test back and it was negative and they were just waiting for the second test. They just needed to be safe. 

Laura: I’m glad you didn’t have that anxiety! When you got here did you expect to be sent to the hotel eventually? 

Ada: I thought it was like a joke. I feel like everyone is like “Oh, the hotel, haha!” but then you realize that people actually stay there; it’s crazy. I didn’t realize that they’ll send you there if you just have a fever, so I didn’t expect to be sent because I didn’t expect to get covid. 

Laura: Right, that makes a lot of sense. How many days did you spend there? 

Ada: I got there in the middle of the day on Friday, spent all day Saturday and Sunday, and got my test results back Monday morning. 

Laura: Did it feel like a very long time? 

Ada: Like, no. It wasn’t super long. I know people who have been there for longer. But at the time, it felt like a really really long time because I was missing a whole weekend. 

Laura: Any FOMO? 

Ada: Oh, for sure. Yeah, I would Facetime my friend Susan and she would be like, you know… 

Laura: Yeah.

Ada: Yeah. 

Laura: What ended up being your actual diagnosis? Did you have a cold or the flu? 

Ada: I had a strep test done that same day I had a covid test done, and both of them came back negative. So, I really think I just had the flu or something like that. I also get sick all of the time, so this wasn’t that weird, I just don’t get fevers that often. It just went away with sleep. 

Laura: Well that’s good! I’m glad you’re better. 

Ada: Yeah me too. 

Laura: So what was the food situation like? I know you’re vegan. 

Ada: Yeah, so I’m vegan, and at the hotel, they give you more or less what’s on the menu for the hotel. You order your food the day before it comes, but they have no vegan options, they have like Brussels sprouts? But the first day I got there, they knocked on my door and then left, and the breakfast was sitting outside. So, there was a little note, I actually think I still have it, and it was from the Chef, Chef Jim. He was like, “Hey Ada I know you’re vegan but there aren’t any vegan options on this menu, but you can email me @Chef.Jim and we’ll go out and get whatever you want for you.” So that was really sweet. But since my throat hurt so much I was just like, “I want soup,” so he just gave me huge containers of soup and it was really good. I’m sure the variety of the food is better when you’re not vegan, and if I’d been there for a longer time I think it would have been different. 

Laura: Did the soup make you feel any better? 

Ada: I think so—it was really warm, it was really good. 

Laura: Did anybody contact you during your stay? 

Ada: Yeah. When you’re there a nurse from the health center will contact you and whoever is on call from the dean’s office will call you just to see how you’re doing. I think it’s more for people who will be there for a long time and don’t get any contact from anyone, but it was nice to just hear from someone. Like if I needed to contact my professor or something, they gave me a template of what to say to my professors to get extensions and stuff. 

Laura: That’s really nice. Were you the one that said they told your mom about how you were doing? 

Ada: Oh yeah! One of the nurses, she’d call me and then call my mom after to ask my mom if what I was saying was what I was actually feeling. Just in case I would tell the nurse, “Oh yeah, I’m doing fine,” and then would talk to my mom and be like “Yeah I feel horrible.” They would contact my parents too which was nice. But I think you have to give them consent to do that. 

Laura: That’s really nice of her.

Ada: Yeah! My mom enjoyed it. She was like, “Thank God.” 

Laura: Were the beds comfortable? Could you sleep at night? 

Ada: Mhm! My fever would always go up, like, a lot at night. But that wasn’t the bed’s fault, well, the beds were fine. They could have had more blankets, I have to say. The beds were really big, very comfortable. That’s really where you spend all your time, at least where I spent all my time when I was there, so like, they better be comfortable. No, they’re good, they’re good. Yeah, the only complaint I have is that there should be more blankets. Like I need more. But that’s just me maybe.

Laura: Well when you’re sick, you know…

Ada: Yeah, you get hot and cold it’s crazy. 

Laura: Mhm. Were your professors understanding? Could you keep up with your work?

Ada: I had a paper due the Sunday night that I was there, and I was just like “No way I’m doing it.” Yes I have a lot of free time but when you’re sick you don’t want to do that. You can’t focus, you feel like shit. So I just emailed the professor and was like “Hey. I’m in the hotel cuz I have a fever. Can I get an extension?” and I feel like especially right now with covid, even if I wasn’t in the hotel and I was just stressed, a professor would give you an extension, just cuz they’re really lenient this semester. So she was just like “Yeah, don’t worry about it at all, hand it in whenever you’re feeling better.” And also, before I was in the hotel, I told one of my professors I wasn’t feeling well and that I wasn’t going to class and he was like “Thank you so much for taking the precautions and for doing this for our community.” Like, they don’t want you to come in if you’re sick. So like, stay home if you’re feeling sick. It’s fine, they’re going to be understanding. 

Laura: That definitely makes sense. No one wants to get covid.

Ada: Yeah, exactly. 

Laura: How did you keep yourself busy then? 

Ada: Uh, I had the TV on as background noise a lot of the time. Like, I watched iCarly. They have cable so it was just Teen Nick. I’m sure there were other shows, I just wanted to stick with iCarly. I watched Victorious at five in the morning. I did some online shopping. Oh, I Facetimed people, like, constantly and I also had an audition for the acapella club I’m in now. I literally did the audition in the hotel bathroom. 

Laura: That’s so funny. 

Ada: And I don’t even know how I sang, because I was like “I feel horrible”. But I really wanted to do it so I was like forcing myself. So like, there was at least one day where I felt like I was being kind of productive. 

Laura: Well that’s always good. 

Ada: Yeah. There are definitely ways to occupy yourself, but I can’t imagine being there for more than like 6 or 7 days. Like oh my god. No. It’s too long to be alone. I don’t know how you can do that. 

Laura: So you were stuck in your room 24/7?

Ada: Yeah, you’re not supposed to leave the room. I really did want to. But honestly, it’s kind of good when you’re sick because then you don’t have the pressure of going out. You’re just sitting there, sleeping, and forcing yourself to get better. That’s why I like the post about “I need a vacation let me go to the hotel” on the Oberlin Breastfeeding Club account because yeah, it like lowkey is such a good vacation. But I can’t really speak for the full two-week quarantine. If you can make sure you’re there for only three days, it’s probably not the worst thing. 

Laura: Right, right. 

Ada: It’s a little break.

Laura: A little break!

Ada: A little break!

Laura: I heard you were escorted off on a golf cart. Is that embarrassing? How was that?

Ada: Yeah! Very embarrassing. So security came to my door and they were like “Come on let’s go,” and I didn’t think they were actually going to take me in a golf cart. You sit on the back. So you’re facing everyone. 

Laura: Right. 

Ada: I just like, looked at my phone the entire time and just like, if people saw me they didn’t. Like, no. 

Laura: Mhm. 

Ada: No one has come up to me and been like “I saw you on that golf cart!” but like I hear people say all the time “Oh, I always see people riding the golf cart and they look so sad!” or like whatever. It’s embarrassing but also, no one knows who it is unless you’re really up close. 

Laura: Was it busy when you were escorted out? 

Ada: On the way back, cuz it was like a Monday morning, Also the security guy went through Tappan. Fully through Tappan Square. So I was like “Mm’kay. This is prime time, prime spot. I’m just going to have my head down [and] not pay attention” and then he parked right in front of Langston. Like not the hidden side entrance. So then I was just walking and he had to escort me back to my room to make sure my key card still worked. It was a lot but it’s okay. I would have rather just walked there, but I get why I couldn’t. 

Laura: Probably for the best. Okay. Best and worst things about the hotel. Do you have any particular memories? 

Ada: Memories! 

Laura: Do you reminisce on anything occasionally,…

Ada: Okay, best thing: the Brussels sprouts. If you go, get the Brussels sprouts. Really good. The shower’s nice. And the lighting! 

Laura: Really? 

Ada: Yeah, in the bathroom. Really nice. Um, the worst thing I would just say that you’re sick and alone. I wish I had NyQuil to make me sleep. 

Laura: Did they not give you medicine? 

Ada: They gave me Advil. So I took Advil a lot. But that doesn’t do all that much. I liked people watching though because I was right across from the Cable Co-op and Slow Train. So I would just, like, people watch and dream of the Chai I could get when I left. 

Laura: That’s great. I love that. So wait, was it good selfie lighting in the bathroom? What did you mean by that?

Ada: Oh my god I didn’t even think to take a selfie. I stayed in the same sweatshirt the whole time. But, I would think so. It’s good lighting, it’s hotel lighting. And it’s sustainable so you have to keep your hotel card in the little key holder. You need to put it in there in order to keep the lights on, otherwise, the lights will turn off after 5 minutes. And I didn’t realize that until, like, the second day. So I was just peeing in the dark because I didn’t realize why they were automatically turning off after 2 minutes. So, yeah, anyways. 

Laura: Well that’s great! I think that’s really good information though for people who end up going to the hotel!

Ada: It’s kind of hidden too— they don’t tell you. You just have to find the thing. It’s right by the door and that’s why your light isn’t turning on. It literally took me the first full day. I was actually peeing in the dark. 

Laura: Oh god, I apologize for that. 

Ada: It’s okay. 

Laura: When you walk past the hotel now, how does it feel? 

Ada: It’s mixed. Sometimes I would not mind another little weekend trip. I didn’t have a horrible time there except that it was lonely. There are so many schools that are putting their students that have to be quarantined in bad dorm rooms that are just unused, so it’s nice that we get a hotel. They’re definitely treating us well. 

Laura: What advice would you give somebody in the hotel? 

Ada: I would say that it’s not as bad as it seems. Not trying to glamorize the hotel quarantine life, but I didn’t want to go at all. I was trying to convince student health that I could just quarantine in my dorm. Because it’s comfortable in your dorm. It’s your room. But they do treat you well and people check on you and it’s comfortable. And if you are sick, you can just sleep. You have no responsibilities. I don’t know. I guess my advice is: it’s not as scary as it seems. But put the key card in the light thing. 

Laura: That’s great advice. Do you have any shoutouts you’d like to give to anyone who helped you throughout this thing? Any staff members? 

Ada: Let me think. Well, Chef Jim—shoutout, the mushroom soup was really good. My mom told me how to call the hospital. 

Laura: What do you mean?

Ada: Because it was so confusing. It felt like the first time I was being an adult. I had to deal with it all on my own. I had to figure out how to get a covid test and all that on my own. And yeah, that’s it! 

Laura: Shoutout to yourself. 

Ada: Oh, to myself too yeah.

Laura: You went through that. You did it. 

Ada: Advil. 

Laura: Shoutout to Advil. Well, thank you so much Ada. That was great. 

Ada: All good, thank YOU.