The quarantine chronicles: My 11 days of self-isolation

Three plates of food, two streets and one sparkling water box are in a collage.
Jaimie Ding SC ’21 self-quarantined at home in Vancouver, Washington upon return from Seoul, South Korea. (Courtesy: Jaimie Ding)

Upon my return to Vancouver, Washington from Seoul, South Korea after my study abroad program was canceled last month, my family insisted on quarantining me in the house by myself for two weeks while they moved out. Here’s a day-by-day account of what happened during my self-quarantine.

Day 1: March 1

Having the house to myself is great. I’m still recovering from jetlag so I slept most of the day away. Knowing that I hate touching raw meat, my mom cooked some ribs for me in advance and left them in the fridge. Thanks, mom! 

My dad dropped off some broccoli and bok choy at the front door. My mom called me that night and asked me to not go into the office in case she needed to come back and grab something. Because, obviously, if I were to walk inside, I would contaminate everything …

Day 2: March 2

I’m still spending most of the day in bed, but watching Netflix instead. I also purchased some Korean textbooks before I left Korea, so I consoled myself by studying Korean for a few hours. After that, I started to crave Korean food, so I tried to make kimchi jeon (pancakes). It went rather poorly. I blame my not non-stick pan for betraying me.

Also, I lost my SIM card in Korea, so no one’s been able to reach me by phone.

Day 3: March 3

I decide that if I can’t do anything for two weeks, I might as well get in shape. I went to the park for some fresh air and ran for the first time in months. To my surprise, I easily hit 4.5 miles but started getting hungry and decided to head home for dinner. 

I had totally forgotten about this, but my dad installed a camera in front of our front door so he could see who is coming in and out of the house. When I got home, he asked me where I went. Note to future self: If I need to escape, must go through the garage.

Day 4: March 4

MY WHOLE BODY HURTS. I am so terribly out of shape that the sudden 4.5-mile run really killed me. Running was a horrible idea. I spent most of the day horizontal again.

Day 5: March 5

I have absolutely no recollection of what I did this day. I searched my camera roll and text messages for clues, and it seems like all I did was watch skincare videos on YouTube and save coronavirus memes from Twitter. 

Day 6: March 6

My entire body is craving boba. Out of desperation, I ordered boba and some spicy wontons on UberEats from Taste of Asia & Tea. The boba was surprisingly decent.

I also convinced myself to run again! But it’s raining outside today, so I only spent 40 minutes on the treadmill. Honestly? Good enough.

I realize that without any responsibilities or human beings to interact with, I no longer have to abide by societal norms of when to eat or when to sleep! This means I can stay up all night to FaceTime a friend in London.

Day 7: March 7

I ended up sleeping until noon.

While calling my mom in the morning, I overheard my dad and little sister talking about trying out a new restaurant that just opened.

“Wait, what?? Food? Are you guys getting food? What food? Wait, I want food! Bring me fooooood!” I yell into the phone. Turns out, it was a new ramen place. 

Dad called from Costco and asked if I needed anything. I contemplated asking for a box of those massive Costco croissants but settled for Spindrift sparkling water instead. I tweet about it and Spindrift likes my tweet. :’)

My dad dropped off my garlic tonkotsu ramen and Spindrift in the house and quickly retreated back into the garage when I approached. The garlic tonkotsu was mediocre. I left a 3-star review on Yelp.

Day 8: March 8

I finished the book “Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning” by Cathy Park Hong, which I started two days ago. If you want to read something that leaves you a bit hurt and confused, and makes your brain churn for several days, I highly recommend it. It’s nice to have time to actually read something voluntarily. 

I tried my hand at making kimchi jjigae (stew), following a random recipe I found online from My Korean Kitchen. It boils so beautifully but alas … it tasted bad.

I practiced piano for the first time in months, since I couldn’t practice in Korea! It was satisfying. 

Day 9: March 9

I screamed into the abyss that is my house in the middle of the night. Noise no longer matters as I have not interacted with a human in over a week.

I’ve become so lazy that I’ve resorted to boiling broccoli for dinner and eating it with leftover kimchi jjigae. I also haven’t washed the dishes in a while — I definitely need to do that first thing tomorrow if I want to cook or eat or do anything, basically, because nothing is clean.

Day 10: March 10

I finally did my laundry for the first time since I’ve come back. I also unpacked (and didn’t do the dishes). Who needs food when a friend can just drop off boba at your house?

Day 11: March 11

Surprise! I’m heading back to South Korea to complete my semester abroad. Though my study abroad program was canceled, I was able to direct-enroll at Yonsei University in Seoul so I’m going back.

Yes, I know, coronavirus. But I live in Washington state, which is in a truly dire state of emergency trying to handle its own outbreak, so I figured I might as well go back to a country with a functional and efficient coronavirus testing system and responsive government. Shoutout to Neva Barker and Tressi Mehana Turkmany at the Scripps College study abroad office for all their help — they are truly the best.

And to Claremont: I’ll see you in the fall.

Jaimie Ding SC ’21 is a guest writer who is studying abroad in South Korea this semester (as you can probably tell). She’s completely obsessed with boba and sometimes makes risky life decisions.

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