Pandemic Profile: Making The Most Of Her College Experience Halfway Around The World
Arianna Cubillian planned to stay with her parents in Manila only through the summer. The 22-year-old even booked a flight back to San Diego in time for the start of the school year at UCSD.
But as the pandemic worsened through the summer, her plans changed.
“My job told me everything’s online,” she said. “And there were all the wildfires, and suddenly a spike in coronavirus cases, so my parents just told me to stay here.”
She’s spent the last nine months trying to make the most of her final year of college while living 7,000 miles from UC San Diego’s campus. Cubillian said being with her family during this crisis had its upsides.
“I sort of liked it because when I’m there in the States, I was kind of alone, and I had to take care of myself,” she said. “And of course everything’s crazy with the pandemic so it’s kind of nice to be somewhere so familiar.”
But it got harder as school started and she saw her friends and past roommates reuniting and quarantining together. She started to feel isolated.
“I’ve seen my friends in quarantine but they’re still living together, so it’s still that college experience,” she said. “I felt like being here was taking away from my experience as a college student especially because it’s my last year.”
Cubillian started spending too much time on her phone and the excessive screen time affected her mental health, she said. So she looked for new hobbies.
“I really wanted to find something so I could reduce my screen time. That really took a toll on me in the spring quarter,” Cubillian said. “So I picked up embroidering because it’s a nice break from just staring at the screen. I really like it.”
She also found comfort in journaling. She said it was therapeutic to be able to write down her frustrations about being stuck at home. She said she doesn’t like to voice those frustrations because she knows there are people facing greater challenges during the pandemic.
Over time, she learned to appreciate being with her family.
“I’m in a much better place now because I’m not constantly thinking anymore about what I should be experiencing,” she said. “I’ve managed to find a way to be grateful that I can be home.”
Cubillian expects to stay in Manila at least until the spring quarter starts in March. When she returns to San Diego, she said she’s hoping to salvage the last bit of her senior year.
“Definitely for my last quarter I want to be in San Diego,” she said. “I’m really, really hoping I’ll get little scraps of my senior year back.”