Monday 26 October, 2020

Life in quarantine: Trini student waiting patiently for freedom

In quarantine: Cave Hill student, Carissa Rodulfo

In quarantine: Cave Hill student, Carissa Rodulfo

Two weeks can seem like a long time for someone to be in quarantine, it feels even longer if you’ve been away from home for months before.  

Cave Hill student and Trinidadian national Carissa Rodulfo has been undergoing the mandatory state quarantine since her return to Trinidad and Tobago.  

While she’s been a willing participant and clearly understands the need for her and others who’ve returned to quarantine, she admits it hasn’t always been easy. She says that self-isolation taught her a bit about herself. 

“I always thought that this is two weeks, I’m going to be fine, I’m usually a loner, I usually stay in my room anyway, how bad could it be? But really, when someone tells you that you can’t come out of your room under any circumstances unless I message you and tell you to come out of your room, it’s a very different experience. Your loss of freedom really affects you mentally even if you’re not exercising it. 

“The need for human interaction, this is the first time I felt it, I would say because you don’t see people, you don’t hear people, it’s just you, yourself and Netflix,” she lamented. 

Nurses and other staff at the University of the West Indies’ quarantine facility have been warm, according to Carissa. Recalling her experience getting anxious after seeing the volume of Defence Force and other security personnel at their arrival, she says the nurses did their best to keep everyone in a positive space despite the circumstances. 

“They have been so nice and so warm and so friendly and so accommodating from the start. They always spoke to us very nicely, made sure we were comfortable, tried to calm us if we felt anxious,” she said. 

It’s just the latest process for her and her fellow schoolmates who had been waiting to return to T&T since Prime Minister Dr Rowley announced that Caribbean Airlines would be organising their repatriation flights. She says that while she understands how difficult aligning everyone’s schedule must have been, dealing with the anxieties of not knowing when she could return home was unnerving at times. 

“I just feel like it didn’t have to be like that; I feel like as a government, I understand the need to keep things private because you don’t want things to get lost in channels and miscommunication but if you make an announcement like that (on when we’d be coming home) in the same breath, I should be getting an email outlining what is going to be the process,” she said. 

All in all, Rodulfo says that as she eyes the finish line of her quarantine period, she’s largely content with the government’s handling of COVID-19, even if it meant inconveniences along her journey. She does, however, recommend that they sharpen their communication mechanisms with returnees so that everyone involved can have a smoother experience. 

Another concern she raised is the food provided in quarantine. She recalled one particular morning they were given a meal of bread and cheese, which wasn’t altogether well done. 

“I’m not a picky eater, I’m definitely not a picky eater. I eat any and everything but the food, it’s just not good,” she joked. 

Carissa says she appreciates that family members and friends are allowed to drop off meals and care packages at quarantine facilities to make sure that returnees are still able to feel a bit at home. 

As of this semester, Carissa Rodulfo has successfully completed all courses needed to achieve her LLB. 

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