My Week in ESTEEM: Quarantine Diaries, Pt. 1

Author: Risa Takenaka

Risa Takenaka, ESTEEM '20Risa Takenaka, ESTEEM '20

[Editor's note: Departing somewhat from our usual "My Week in ESTEEM" format, current student Risa Takenaka shares her experience, candidly and with humor, since learning that Notre Dame's classes would move online. This news came on March 11, just as the class was finishing up their Spring Break week in Silicon Valley.

This is the first post in the series. Check back often for new installments.]

Reporting live from St. Charles, MO, this is Risa Takenaka on day ____ (insert literally any number) of quarantine. Today was a scary day in the Takenaka household, as my dad made a public service announcement that the residents need to be more frugal with their toilet paper usage, and that our supply has dwindled down to the single digits. Trying times call for our best selves, and I guess I will come out on the other side of this pandemic as a more efficient person. 

I consider myself lucky that this is my primary struggle at the moment, and that for the most part, myself and many of us are removed from the most immediate and detrimental health effects of COVID-19. But that is not to say that we haven’t felt the wide reaching consequences of this pandemic in our tight knit ESTEEM community. 

In the past few weeks, our once daily commutes to Innovation Park, to the gym, to friends’ places, and other reasons to leave the house have slowly dwindled in their frequency. My morning routine of getting ready for the day has been replaced with packing up boxes to move out of my beloved South Bend home, 818. As we all scramble to adjust to online classes, social distancing, and attempt to keep up with the ever changing updates about the status of our country, I’ve found myself experiencing random waves of loneliness and uncertainty.

Chuck Packing

Chuck Rioux being a supportive cheerleader as my sister and I pack up my car.

When he arrived at the scene just as I was putting the last few boxes away, he said, “I should’ve brought my pom poms.” 

Some of us have stayed composed throughout this situation while others have broken down into ugly tears (definitely not me), but I think it’s safe to say we’re all disappointed about our time in South Bend prematurely coming to an end. A majority of us are back at our respective homes -- on the West Coast, East Coast, here in the Midwest, and across the pond in Ireland -- and a few are laying low in the 46617 to avoid traveling. With our class scattered across the map, technology has helped keep me sane, allowing me to chat, laugh, and raise a toast with friends, albeit virtually. 

As we adjust to this new lifestyle and try our best to redefine normalcy, I’ve found great pleasure in seeing that our class has found some creative and meaningful ways to spend their time and to stay connected during quarantine. Some of us have picked up new hobbies, a couple of us are living the introverts’ dream life, and others (again, not me) are learning how to cope with this foreign concept called alone time.

Adapting to change takes time and effort. But my classmates have done an exceptional job in showing me how to make the best with what you’ve got, and this blog post is dedicated to my 55 ESTEEM friends who have become more like family in the past ten months. During these tough few weeks, they have given me lots of reasons to smile, so I figured I’d share these moments with the rest of the world.

So it is with great pleasure, I present to you... the ESTEEM Quarantine Diaries!