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Students Try New Hobbies Over Quarantine

Story by Aishah Abdulkadri

When school first shut down on Mar. 13, Zufan Johnson (11) expected a return to school within a month. She did not anticipate quarantine orders extending into the months to come. Having volunteered at the zoo and participated in job shadowing at a vet clinic beforehand, because of COVID-19, Johnson’s usual hobbies spontaneously disappeared.

Left without her usual pastimes and little to no schoolwork, Johnson felt very bored over the quarantine period. She had also not yet begun her summer job at Meijer.

“I really was just moping around trying to find something to hold my interest,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s boredom persisted until she finally found hobbies that captured her intrigue.

Picture of a Chloe Ting exercise brochure, courtesy of Zufan Johnson.

Makeup and yoga was Johnson’s salvation. She began trying out new looks and styles as well as new yoga exercises made by Chloe Ting, an exercise-orientated Youtuber. Johnson found Chloe Ting when she searched up a simple yoga routine on YouTube.

“I think these hobbies were mostly inspired by my extreme boredom. I thought I would just try some new activities to keep that boredom at bay and then I ended up liking them quite a bit," Johnson said.

Johnson says there was no fantastic story behind discovering these activities.

“I saw that I had more time, which led to more self-reflection and I realized that I actually did like makeup -- I previously thought I hadn't. So that's how I started on the makeup thing,” Johnson said. “As for the workouts, I've wanted to be in better shape for a while, so I decided to do them since I had so much time.“

Zufan Johnson displays various makeup pallets she has practiced makeup with during her stay at home. Photo courtesy of Zufan Johnson.

But these hobbies did not come easy initially. Johnson found some trouble with both hobbies at first.

“I got really tired after just doing the warmups, I wasn't flexible enough for yoga, and I could never get my eyeliner even on both eyes,” Johnson said. “But I stuck with them for a little longer and got better at them.”

It was a good way to pass time for Johnson. She believed she was productive and felt that her health improved.

One of Zufan Johnson's new makeup pallets after initially trying out the hobby. It is now outfitted with a wide selection of colors for various makeup possibilities. Photo courtesy of Zufan Johnson.

“While participating in these activities I learned to have more stamina and a lot more patience. Learning new things takes time and I'm not always going to be great at it on the first try,” Johnson said. “Trying out new things definitely makes me want to try more new things. There's something really fun about trying new, fun activities. When I have the time, I'm going to try learning to cook. It seems really fun, and I would love to bake a cake or some cookies.”

While she did not miss out on any activities when school was shut down, Sydney Henneman (11) also found herself idle, sleeping often during the first few weeks of quarantine.

“[I didn’t expect quarantine to last] this long but I figured it would probably be until the end of the year since summer was close anyway and the virus was only growing,” Henneman said.

Graphic made by Aishah Abdulkadri via Canva. Photos via Nintendo and Bethesda Softworks.

Henneman took up video gaming as her pastime, specifically role-playing video games like Skyrim and Fallout, as well as simulation games she finds relaxing like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing. She wanted to begin playing some more challenging games because she had not finished them before.

Sydney Henneman tries out Minecraft Java Edition, a game she recently downloaded on her computer. Photo courtesy of Sydney Henneman.

“Well, I had a lot of old games that I never played sitting around and I had a lot of time, so I started playing them,” Henneman said.

Henneman enjoys reading when it feels fun for her, so being out of school during quarantine made the hobby less taxing. So, without any reports or projects to go along with these books, she found reading to be quite an enjoyable experience.

Inspired by the free time the quarantine provided, Henneman also branched out into a hobby particularly new to her.

Sydney Henneman displays her cursive workbook as well as her notebook where she has been repeatedly practicing her cursive writing: both upper and lowercase letters. Photo courtesy of Sydney Henneman.

“I’m learning cursive because I’ve never learned it in school and I feel like a lot of people know it so I figured I would teach myself,” Henneman said. “I never learned it in elementary school and I feel like I should know it.”

Similarly to Johnson, these new hobbies provided a fun learning curve for Henneman. It was time well spent.

Booting the game up on her Nintendo Switch, Sydney Henneman is getting ready to play the critically acclaimed community simulation video game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Photo courtesy of Sydney Henneman.

“Honestly I’m still pretty bad at video games but I definitely can get further in games [where] I couldn’t even get past the first stage before,” Henneman said. “Under quarantine, I did think a lot more about my future.”

For both girls, many of these activities were new to them, but left a positive lasting impression. After trying these activites, Johnson and Henneman both encourage students to try out new activities even if they feel unsure at first.

“I would say: go for it. If you have the time and it's not harming anyone, why not? Who knows, it might develop to be a lifelong passion,” Johnson said.