An illustration by Eliza Williams of a series of objects that have come to represent life in lockdown, including a laptop, uberEats bag, wine glass and phone

Quarantine Activities that almost Scored Us a 7.0 GPA Part I

Art by Eliza Williams

We present to you the first half of our two-part series reviewing items that have helped us stay resilient during the isolation period. This also includes events that have had to adapt to the changes in COVID regulations. Whilst we hope this list will in some form or another help you bust out four HDs this semester, we present to you an honest collaborative collection of trends, activities and media recommendations that have helped us to face each day with a sense of grit!

 

  1.     Coffee drinkers who do it for the aesthetic

Dalgona (달고나) coffee was one of the most iconic recipe trends to come out of Tik Tok in quarantine. Initially, the foamy bronze-beaten beverage struck a sense of awe and curiosity, satisfying cravings for any opportunity to replace Sunday brunch story highlights on Instagram. Unabashedly, I admit to partaking in both these trends early last year. Dalgona coffee was first popularised by J’adore’s ‘Quarantine Coffee Challenge’ which has now garnered over 12 million views on YouTube since March last year. Also known as ‘whipped coffee’, the process not only required patience, but also an unforeseen quota of arm strength (a worthy replacement for arm day at the gym!). Whilst this was definitely a fresh take on the usual frappe order, the labour intensity of the drink meant that I did not revisit this recipe too often. Overall, dalgona coffee became a cleansing part of my morning routine in March and is a drink with a legacy that will forever remain synonymous with the dawn of lockdown. 

 

  1.     Your friends haven’t contacted you? Same?!

Granted the reduced face-to-face opportunities last year, a lot of people turned to podcasts for their daily digest. I found podcasts to be an effective way to help me wind down in the afternoon and reflect on both my mental headspace and inner-circle relationships. Between Neens and Deens’ episode on toxic friendships provided a fresh perspective on friendship red flags, complacency and accountability. As opposed to viewing people themselves as toxic, Nina and Dejan explain how friendship compatibility is determined by the reciprocal needs of both individuals at a particular point in their lives. Whilst it has become commonplace to label friends as ‘toxic’ after a friendship fallout, this podcast was an essential reminder that people themselves are not toxic, but relationships can be if the dynamic between individuals is no longer spirited with the same enthusiasm. It’s not always about mending, but sometimes about letting go. Nevertheless, the podcast provided a positive outlook on when to commit to others and when commit to yourself.

 

  1.     The pandemic movie pre-pandemic

Whilst some people disassociated themselves completely from any media content regurgitating COVID-related information, I found that a source of my anxiety was stooped in my general lack of scientific knowledge regarding the virus’ functions and mutations. You may be familiar with the 2011 film ‘Contagion’, a striking on-screen parallel of the COVID-19 outbreak. The world is plagued by an infectious disease, at-home isolation is enforced, a vaccine is in its trail stages of development and the spread of misinformation is catalysed by internet personalities (sounding all too familiar, 2020?). Watching the fictional timeline of the movie’s MEV-1 virus and comparing it to our own pandemic provided an uncanny but illuminating insight into the tireless work of epidemiologists and infectious control units. If you have not yet viewed the movie, it provides a not-so-dystopian fact-based representation of the world vs. pandemic in the 21st Century.

 

  1.     “And you’re probably with that blonde girl”

Now, a note on pop culture! Included amongst the most streamed songs written and released during quarantine is Olivia Rodrigo’s debut single driver’s license. Whilst it may be considered increasingly overplayed, it has impressed myself, friends and listeners worldwide by topping the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. Whilst I cannot remember my immediate reaction to the song, the soft piano notes reinvoked a sense of early-teenage nostalgia that I was so extremely grateful for. The Disney star’s breakup ballad was written in quarantine but released earlier this year. Her lyrics hint at the love triangle entanglement between her co-star on HSMTMTS and former Disney channel child star. Certainly, after seeing Rodrigo’s heartbreak love song also played on my friends’ Spotify activity list, it’s clear that driver’s license has asserted itself as a Gen Z staple. 

 

  1.     The tennis during lockdown

For regular viewers of the tennis, the sound of squeaky sneakers and ritual applause after rallies is a signal of a brand-new year. However, this year, the hotshot Australian Open (AO) has had to adapt and change to match the speed of COVID regulation changes. After Melbourne’s five-day snap lockdown, the usual packed-to-the-rim crowds were cleared out of all arenas overnight. Instead of a stadium of bright colours, the backdrop of players’ serves were lined with rows of empty blue chairs. I was reminded of the bright and youthful atmosphere of the AO in 2019 after receiving an off-handed reminder from Instagram’s memories. Only two years earlier I had seen the legend himself, Federer, in one of his early matches. But watching the tennis online along with everyone else, I think the most startling change was the lack of ambience. Precisely, the haunting silence that followed long rallies. Without the riled-up atmosphere of the crowds, the only sense of validity to each point was confirmed by the *occasional* clap from a players’ box. But this was (strangely) rectified by the addition of fake crowd cheers. Whilst it enhanced online viewers experience of the match, it was definitely uncanny to hear the same round of recorded clapping after two sets. But if there was one thing that telecasts can’t replace, it’s the kindred and fiery spirit of our crowds. Just like the crowd chants, real or recorded, our resilience has allowed us to thrive and adapt in any and all circumstances of change.

 

With that, we end the first half of our list of recommendations. Stay tuned for the second part of our review list where my fellow reviews sub-editor Ashley will be sharing her collection to be released in the following weeks.