Kinesiology graduate Brian Ebisuzaki used to love visiting the Starbucks in the University Union (UU). He would always make a point to greet the employees and strike up a conversation about their day. After getting his drink, Ebisuzaki would walk up to the second floor and start a conversation with a friend, or even a stranger. All of that was taken away when COVID-19 hit, and Ebisuzaki found himself back in his parents’ house.
Ebisuzaki said he decided to stay home when he realized how dangerous COVID-19 could potentially get.
“The more I thought about it, the more I realized it’s gonna get really wild,” Ebisuzaki said. “I knew that my parents were safe in regards to COVID-19 regulations.”
The biggest challenge for him was being an adult in his parent’s home. Ebisuzaki had gotten used to being independent and managing his own life, so having his parents be a part of that again was difficult at times, he said.
“I think there were times when my parents would kind of go back to when I was in high school in terms of behavior patterns,” Ebisuzaki said.
There were times when being home felt lonely for Ebisuzaki. He didn’t have many people in the area to see, and even if he did, COVID-19 made him cautious about seeing others. To combat this, he made an effort to get to know people in his Zoom classes.
“I had to work really hard to reach out and say, ‘Hey do you want to form a study group?’, or ‘Want to form a Zoom room? I’ll host and we’ll figure stuff out,’” Ebisuzaki said. “People were generally appreciative of it, because I think like me, they just wanted somebody to talk to.”
Denise Ebisuzaki, Brian’s mother, said that she was excited to have him home, but that she also recognized it would be a loss of independence for him. Knowing this, she made an effort to make things easier for him.
“I remember saying to him, ‘What can I do or not do that would help you feel comfortable and successful being at home?’” Denise said.
She said that having her son home gave her a chance to get to know him as an adult.
“You’re with each other through 18-years-of-age until they go to college, and then you don’t see them anymore,” Denise said. “It was almost like a second chance at growing as a family.”
Biomedical engineering sophomore Aditi Sriram said she had planned to be a resident advisor (RA) in Poly Canyon Village (PCV) this year, but when COVID-19 hit she decided it would be better for her to stay home.
“I didn’t want to put myself in a position of authority or power when I barely knew what was going on in the first place,” Sriram said.
Sriram moved into PCV at the beginning of spring quarter, but spent the previous three quarters at home with her parents. She said that readjusting to life together during the pandemic was difficult.
“All four of us being stuck in the same house for 24 hours a day for over a year was definitely taxing emotionally,” Sriram said.
Biological sciences sophomore Alla Abolhassani moved back home due to fears about COVID-19. She said that being in a familiar place brings her a sense of much needed comfort during these times.
“Sometimes just being around my family is the best for me,” Abolhassani said. “They are the people who know me best.”
Abolhassani’s grandmother was visiting from Iran when COVID-19 hit, and was unable to return home, so the two ended up having to share a room. This was difficult, according to Abolhassani, because they had very different schedules.
“There was really no privacy whatsoever,” Abolhassani said.
Like Ebisuzaki, Abolhassani said that readjusting to having less independence was difficult, and that receiving input from her family about her daily choices got frustrating at times.
“I remember being back and every little thing I would be doing, either my mom or my grandma would be commenting on how I was doing it wrong,” Abolhassani said.
However, being home allowed Abolhassani to develop a deeper connection with her family. While she was away, she wasn’t able to see some of the things her family members were struggling with, so being home gave her a chance to understand them in a way she hadn’t before.
“It’s nice to be here and to get to know them better, because now I have a deeper appreciation for all my family members,” Abolhassani said.
Abolhassani’s mother, Leila Abolhassani said things were difficult at first. She could tell Alla was missing her college life and friends, and adjusting to having so many people in the house at all times was hard for her too.
However, Leila said that she and her daughter were able to bond through cooking, after Alla expressed interest in making a cake for a relative’s birthday.
“It helped a lot because Alla [Abolhassani] could do and share something with the family. It helped us to reconnect again,” Leila said.
Overall, Leila said that having her daughter home was for the best. It kept her safe, and granted her mother peace of mind in not having to worry about her.
“I think that if Alla was not here, last year would have been much harder for all of us, especially for me,” said Leila. “We were so glad that we were all together.”