- Bethany George travelled to Vietnam with her fiance, Casey, for two weeks.
- On their way home to their apartment in New York City, they had a one-hour layover in South Korea, a country that became a level three travel advisory zone the day before they returned to the US.
- Both Casey and Bethany’s jobs advised them to self-quarantine for 14 days.
- They ordered groceries online, did regular stretches, and tried to not only binge watch TV during the two weeks.
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Casey and I collectively breathed a sigh of relief when we walked into our one-bedroom apartment after our 13-hour connecting flight from Seoul, South Korea. We had the most amazing vacation in Vietnam for the past two weeks – but there’s nothing like the feeling of returning home.
Little did we know that feeling of euphoria would soon turn into exasperation.
The day before we returned, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention raised its travel advisory for South Korea to level three. Level three is the highest level, and warns people to avoid nonessential travel to the country, or to self-quarantine for 14 days if they have been there in the recent days. We were only in a South Korean airport for one hour during a layover between Ho Chi Minh City and New York City, so we didn’t think we were a risk to others.
When we were back at work, New York City offices started to mandate CDC recommendations. I told human resources I had only been in South Korea for an hour, but they didn’t want to take any chances. Better safe than sorry!
I immediately felt scared and guilt-ridden that I had already gone into my office and risked exposing my coworkers. Even though I thought our chances of actually having the virus were low, we knew we had to take the quarantine seriously. But we also had to keep our sanity.
So the quarantine began!
Our first full day of quarantine together was a Friday. After setting up our home office, we ordered groceries online to be delivered to our apartment. We made sure to get a good assortment of perishable and nonperishable food to last us two weeks.
We also got a thermometer to monitor our temperatures. Making sure we observed our symptoms was especially important, since we had possibly exposed our coworkers.
Day 2 and 3
Then we checked our alcohol reserves. Remember, we had just returned from a two week vacation together … the last thing we expected was to then be stuck with each other for a 14 day quarantine. Talk about a true test of a relationship!
Day two of quarantine was a Saturday. On a day we were hoping to reunite with our friends, we were stuck inside. So we decided to rearrange and deep clean our apartment. Casey came up with a whole new vision for our snack cupboard while I went to town on some stubborn soap scum in the shower. Later that night, we got creative in the kitchen and made a fancy steak dinner.
The next day, we started a reality TV show on Netflix, “Love Is Blind.” And we also finished the aforementioned reality TV show.
Day 4 and the first full work week
Our first Monday of quarantine we decided to bring some of our usual routines into our new workplace. This included getting up early and doing a little bit of yoga before sitting on the couch all day. We also decided to dress in usual business casual clothing to get in the right mindset.
The work week from home
We also decided to dress in usual business casual clothing to get in the right mindset.
Taking breaks throughout the week
Over the next couple of days, we realised that scheduling regular breaks helped time go by faster. We would eat lunch at the same time, and have a self-mandated mid-afternoon tea break. Luckily our apartment has a little balcony so we would go out to get some fresh air a few times a day.
The monotony of it all
Our evenings started to get a little monotonous. We got sick of watching TV shows and movies. Our friend’s all said being stuck inside watching TV would be a dream but we told them it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
One night we did our taxes. Another night we went through a Jeopardy themed calendar.
The halfway point
I was really missing my friends and family, so every evening I picked a new victim to amuse me via FaceTime. Everyone seemed to agree they wouldn’t mind a quarantine for 14 days … but if they only knew what it actually felt like on day eight.
That’s when it really started to get to us.
The home stretch
During the last few days of the quarantine, things started to get worse. We stopped dressing like professionals and started to get less inventive for passing the time.
More importantly, we got dangerously low on toilet paper (thank you Amazon Prime for two-day delivery). I felt tired all the time and my eyes had permanent bags under them from starting at my computer and the TV for so many days in a row.
Even when I would go out on the balcony to get some fresh air, the sun started to hit differently!
We decided to check in with our doctor, and he advised that if we weren’t showing any symptoms at all after 10 days from being in South Korea, then we could start leaving our apartment again. On our 10th day, we went for a long walk outside and started to feel just a little bit better.
On our 12th day, we went out for breakfast!
It was a sunny morning and our last day of working from home. As soon as we stepped outside, we both felt so much better. We paused in a sunny patch on the footpath and took it all in. Sitting at a bustling cafe again felt good – we were back!
Seeing other people
Both of us still had no symptoms, so even though it had only been 12 days, our doctor said we were safe to see our friends.
It was now the weekend, so both of us made several plans – separately – with our friends. Our relationship hadn’t really suffered, but after 26 days of just the two of us, we were ready for some time apart.
The end of the quarantine … kind of
On Sunday, I was preparing for going back to work when Casey got an email from his office. They told everyone to work from home on Monday to gauge whether or not the office could operate if the city told businesses to go remote. I thought the poor guy was going to have a meltdown.
Self-quarantining is definitely not the “chillaxing,” television-watching heaven that people imagine it to be. I think having the ability to leave your apartment is what makes choosing not to leave the apartment feel that much better. But if you are stuck inside, make sure you have enough toilet paper.
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