UConn Students Reflect: Writing About Pandemic Validates Feelings

A student in a face mask stands in a mostly deserted part of campus during the COVID-19 pandemic.
UConn students reflect on the experience of dislocation and uncertainty in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

Students in the “Advanced Expository Writing” class taught by Brenda Jo Brueggemann, Aetna Chair of Writing and director of the First-Year Writing Program, used a variety of platforms to write about their experiences in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, for what Brueggemann calls the “Quarantine Collaboration Journal.” Here, some of those students reflect on the experience:

The experience of being in quarantine can be quite mindless, hopeless, and numbing but having the responsibility of documenting it has made this uncertain time have a purpose. Being held accountable to documenting my experience of quarantine has forced me to process and digest this time in a healthy way. It’s easy to deny what is going on and rescind into my own world and passively survive the given circumstance by denying to process it. By writing about my experiences it almost validates my feelings and emotions. Knowing that these pieces of work will be contributed to an archive makes me feel like this all has a purpose, which is something I am very grateful for.
Marissa Macaro ’22 CLAS

It is helpful to be able to write about my experiences during the pandemic. It makes me feel like I’m doing something and like maybe what I’m going through will be useful someday if I write down my experience. I also am grateful for the chance to reflect on life in general. I don’t often have time to write a consistent journal, so this assignment helps me to make it a journal.
Sophia Buckner, doctoral candidate in English

Being stuck at home can sometimes start to blend the days together, and writing has helped me to keep track of things. It also wasn’t very stressful, being able to have an entire week to do it would mean that sometimes something would just come to me, and I found myself needing to write it down. At times it wouldn’t feel like an assignment to me.
Destin Brown ’21 SFA

I love interacting with my classmates, and reading about their experiences during this quarantine. It’s almost like a group therapy session. We’re all going through the same situation. There’s comfort in solidarity. I suppose I could carry on writing similar entries in my own personal journals, but it won’t be the same. As much as I loved writing entries, I think I’m going to miss reading other people’s entries more.
Annaliese Angelo ’21 CLAS

Professor Brueggemann encouraged us all to keep writing for the sake of ourselves, so that we may look back on this unprecedented time and reflect on what we’re experiencing right now … It’s a memory box of our raw emotions and how we all supported each other and ourselves during this pandemic. It has been helpful to see everybody be vulnerable. It makes me feel less alone.
Kyle Rodriguez ’21 CAHNR

It was a great way to keep track of the happenings in our lives during this historic moment… quite the mixture of emotions just like our private journals would be; with the up and down happenings each week in our lives as this virus spreads rapidly and viciously across our country and world and all the sad news of deaths, or now we are stuck at home with our families and the real adventurous begin or running on empty, clueless of what to write about because nothing interesting happened that week. I also really enjoyed reading some amazing posts by my classmates and the support that was expressed when we weren’t having a great week.
Christina James BGS

Professor Brueggemann allowed us to have a lot of freedom when writing our journal entries and I think this led to the writing experience being more fun for all of us. I found the entries by my classmates to be very interesting to read because of this. The journal also allowed us to find out a lot about each other as we were able to open up to each other even more through our writing.
Shiza Bari ’21 CLAS