I was a close contact of someone who tested positive for Covid-19. To UC Berkeley, I am ‘unvaccinated’.

I am not.

Places 1

During the summer, I received both doses of the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine. It has yet to be approved by the World Health Organization.

through a keyhole

And so, on day seven of my quarantine, I reflect on the world from the confines of my room.

It is perhaps unfair of me to complain about being stuck in a sunny, Californian bedroom. My meals are brought to me, my coffee brewed.

I should feel like the most special person in the world. But to avoid reciting Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” I will refrain from a detailed description of my state.


Instead, I want to talk about light. In my quarantine, light has newfound importance.

Mornings roll around, and for a brief second, I forget I am locked inside. Typically, I would insert overdone commentary on “soft morning light”.

While cliche, it does bring a genuine, child-like excitement for the day. The world, briefly, is good.


As the earth spins, my wall decor is illuminated from different angles. Every hour, a new photograph or magazine cutout is under the spotlight.

The day continues and the sun moves to face the room directly. It is then that I truly remember that I am in California.

The sun is now glaring through my windows. It heats up the room, and I become increasingly aware of my confinement.

the sun

The Californian sun suffocates the room. Even opening the windows does not help.

I once again attempt to steer from overused suffocation analogies. Yet it is difficult not to be aware of the irony.

Places 2

I sit in my bedroom as it heats up, unable to leave. The sun is slowly becoming my enemy.

It moves beyond my windows as the day goes on. Even as its sets and the outside world gets darker, my small room still lacks air. Physically and metaphorically.

The world gets dimmer. I can finally turn my lights on. I avoid the main light – it’s jarring. Instead, I have three desk lamps spread around the room, facing the walls.

familiar objects

I try to create comfort where there is very little. Being in a small room with no ability to leave – even though only for two weeks – has quickly taken all of the comfort out of the room I had so recently committed to decorating.

I turn on my fairy lights. They add a homely touch to a room I’ve had to get to know very well.

I was confined less than two weeks after I had arrived in the United States. I am now thoroughly acquainted with my desk, bed, and the view of the bay from my window.


Perhaps more so than I ever had to be.

Now, the only source of light in the room is internal. It feels like self-generated energy. I feel keen to get on with my reading, once again lured in by the false sense of comfort.

Then, the patio lights turn on.


It is now when I remember how truly isolated from the world I am.

Living in a house with 64 people, the patio lights turning on means community. It means my peers are sitting around eating dinner and enjoying each other’s company.

The yellow string light bulbs from the outside are bright enough to shine through into my bedroom even though the curtains are drawn.

hello sounds

I hear laughter, chatter, and communal living.

I close the windows that brought me fresh air. A few hours into the evening, the air is not so fresh anymore.

Places 3

A couple of hours pass, and I see darkness again. I have turned the light off and am going to bed, ready to repeat the cycle the next day.

According to the UC Berkeley Coronavirus team, there have been 65 total positive cases since the beginning of classes.

I get to stay in my room and be pampered. I think about those who could not stay in their bedrooms or those who don’t have close friends or family nearby.

part of it all

Despite vaccination, the Coronavirus continues to be part of our lives. College students in isolation are just one part of it.

About the Article

A look one individual’s experience in not having a COVID vaccination from her native country recognized in the country where she is studying.

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