Summer 2020 Advice Column: Quarantine Edition, Take Two


Leann Goldberg

During an Editorial Zoom meeting, the newspaper Editor-in-Chiefs plan out the June 2020 Issue of ‘The Science Survey.’ On the top row are Sofia Mahairas ’20 and Leann Goldberg ’20, and on the bottom row are Celeste Abourjeili ’20 and Daniela Castro ’20 (not pictured are Cameron Leo ’20 and Kaitlyn Romanger ’20).

Hey Bronx Science!

We hope you and your families are staying safe. It’s crazy that it’s somehow already June 2020, and even though this was not the way we thought our academic school year would end, we are so proud to see how everyone is persevering and trying to stay strong.

Seniors, this year has not had an ideal or particularly satisfying end, but this is not the real end, so we hope to see all of you at homecoming and other rescheduled senior events next academic year! Your hard work over these past four years has not gone unnoticed. We will get the ending that we deserve, even if it takes longer than expected.

Enjoy the final advice column of the year and remember to socially distance, even with summer around the corner!


Your Editor-in-Chiefs

I planned on adding more to my résumé for college by taking part in two internships this summer — both of which accepted me. But because of the Coronavirus pandemic, both were canceled, and I feel like I didn’t do enough during my previous high school summers (often due to family / circumstantial restrictions) to seem ‘appealing’ enough for colleges. 

That’s definitely tough, but don’t stress it! Almost everyone is in the same boat as you, and colleges understand that many summer opportunities were cancelled. In the Additional Information section in your application, you can explain that you were planning on engaging in two internships this summer and that they were cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. That being said, you don’t have to be involved in internships to use your summer in a way that is both impressive to colleges and super fun! Here are a few ideas: create your own independent study on a subject about which you are passionate (design a curriculum, read books, watch online classes); volunteer (contact tracing and aid for the elderly are so needed right now!); become involved with a nonprofit that you’re genuinely passionate about (nonprofits and organizations are doing amazing virtual work); or take up a hobby (teach yourself to play the guitar, do woodworking, make pottery!). 

— Cameron Leo ’20

If quarantine continues through the summer, what should we do to have fun?

It’s hard to say when quarantine will come to an end. It’s even harder to say what will happen when it does. However, there are still many ways to be productive and, more importantly, have fun. Many students like to read books or watch Netflix movies as a way to unwind and to have something to binge on when they’re bored. If these aren’t for you, that’s completely fine— everyone is different. Some students write short stories or begin drafts for a novel they’d like to write someday. Others use video games as an outlet for their pent-up energy. If you don’t have a Playstation or Xbox, try looking for your older consoles. I found my DSI the other day and began to play Mario Kart; needless to say, I was playing for hours. If you don’t have any of the above, fear not! There are a variety of mobile games that resemble the level graphics and skill of classic video games. Aside from gaming, social media is a good way to stay occupied. Apps such as iFunny, TikTok, and Reddit are popular sources of memes and funny videos. Also consider that video streaming apps like Youtube aren’t only known for storing the vlogs of fun-loving media icons. You can use these apps to learn new skills from the basics of American Sign Language to folding a shirt more efficiently. Although staying inside limits social contact, by no means does it limit our ability to enjoy ourselves. Whether you’re trying something new or old, you’ll be able to come out of quarantine more well-rounded than ever!

— Kaitlyn Romanger ’20

How do I manage dealing with the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic and still prepare for next year?

The truth is, planning for next year is going to be a difficult task.  It seems that no one really has answers about what’s going to happen in the next few months, and that’s because everything’s so uncertain now. New York City is starting to open up, but there is still a lot that can happen before school starts in September 2020. I think preparing for next year will entirely depend on what grade you’re in. For current juniors, you can use this time to start doing in-depth research on colleges and try to figure out what you are looking for in a school. You can also start brainstorming ideas for your common app essay.  This article, written by Mayesha Soshi ’20, has a lot of helpful information for you.  For seniors, although we are not sure what is happening with colleges, we can begin to prepare as if we will be attending school in the fall, but remain flexible.  Overall, we need to keep a positive mindset, and do our best to keep ourselves and our families healthy and safe. 

— Sofia Mahairas ’20

What is the best way to ask for a recommendation letter from a teacher?

I remember this being really stressful for me last year! Now that we are no longer at school and can’t talk to teachers face to face, it is definitely a bit different from what I experienced during my junior year. However, I would still recommend being straightforward and not delaying. Asking for recs may seem intimidating at first, but it is a lot better to get it done as early as possible, before teachers are overwhelmed and overcommitted in terms of writing raves and recommendations. Just send a well-written e-mail note to your teacher and ask nicely if they would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation. Depending on the relationship with your teacher, you can also write about how much you have appreciated and learned from being their student. Try not to overthink it: a short and sweet message should do the trick. 

— Daniela Castro ’20

Is it worth it to continue a high school relationship in college? 

I think it really depends on the relationship! If nothing else, this quarantine can be used as a sort of indicator for how your long distance relationship could work. If you find yourself frustrated with how your virtual or less frequent hangouts are going with your partner, maybe that’s a clue that a long distance relationship in college might not be for you. Also, college is a time for exploration and figuring out what you want and who you are. In my opinion, this exploration might work better without a high school relationship. That being said, it’s really dependent on you and your partner. I think the most important thing you can do before deciding anything for sure is communicating with your partner and seeing how you both feel about it. They probably have the same questions and want to hear how you feel. Also remember that no decision is permanent. If you two break up and realize you just don’t want to be apart, have a conversation and see what can be done. The most important thing is to communicate and to make sure you’re happy. 

— Leann Goldberg ’20

Be honest with yourself about whether you can handle long-distance. I wouldn’t commit to a long-distance relationship in college because I think it would end poorly. If you have a good thing going in high school, you may want to leave it on a good note rather than opening up the possibility of it slowly breaking down as you grow apart. The beginning of college is a special time, and you will probably want to live in the moment with a completely fresh start. If you and your partner will be attending the same college or neighboring colleges, long-distance won’t be an issue and you can probably continue your relationship with little change. However, you may still want to start fresh without your past holding you back, and that’s okay too. Just make sure to communicate.

— Celeste Abourjeili ’20

I’m a big believer that if it’s truly meant to be, you will find each other after college. I think it’s very important (especially if you’ve been in a long-term relationship) to take time to be by yourself and explore in college. You need to become comfortable being with yourself before you invest in spending your life with someone else. Ultimately, that will make your adult relationships a lot healthier. So even if you think your current partner is the one, I think the most productive and thoughtful thing to do is to give each other space in college. That being said, I know first hand that it’s easier said than done. I’ve been with the same person since my ninth grade year, and if we had another year of high school, I would have absolutely no desire to end our relationship. However, for me, being single is something that I know I need to experience during this part of my life in order to grow and mature, and my boyfriend feels the same about himself. You have to temporarily detach from emotion a little bit to make the right choice. And, of course, be open and communicative about your thought process with your partner.

— Cameron Leo ’20

I hope my story with my boyfriend answers your question. I met my current boyfriend of two years during our ninth grade Research Literacy class. It turned out that we had four consecutive classes together that year: Research Literacy, Lunch, Gym, and Chemistry (yes, we literally had chemistry). We began talking after the first few days of school and, by midterms, we were best friends. We began dating in our sophomore year, and I can honestly say that meeting him is the best thing to ever happen to me. That may have sounded cliché, but it couldn’t be more true. Not only has he made me the happiest I’ve ever been, but he’s helped me through the roughest times of my life. Even when I thought I was losing myself, he chose to stick around, just as I did for him when things in his life got rocky. To this day (we’re seniors now), our love is as strong as ever, and neither of us have plans to end what we have. Learning that we weren’t going to be able to go to the same college was a tough pill to swallow, but if you really love and cherish someone, you’ll keep them in your life no matter the circumstance. We haven’t seen each other for three months due to the pandemic (we want to keep our families and communities safe and healthy), yet our relationship is stronger than ever before. I’ve learned that if we could get through a drastic change like quarantine, two months of college apart from one another is nothing. Although we’ve definitely had our ups and downs over the past four years (both in our personal lives and in our relationship), we’ve stayed true to one another. In short, distance doesn’t break a relationship, but a lack of communication does.  

— Kaitlyn Romanger ’20

What are you doing this summer?

I’m still not sure what I’m doing this summer because the situation with the Coronavirus pandemic seems to be constantly changing. I hope to safely meet up with at least a few friends who I haven’t been able to see, while still following social distancing measures, for one, and quarantining with a few friends if possible, too. I also hope to find some volunteer opportunities—something along the lines of buying groceries for people who can’t shop for themselves, for example—or other online opportunities, if I can find any. Also, I’ll probably be working on planning out my gap year and figuring out how to accomplish everything that I want to most effectively! Honestly, though, I’m still waiting to hear about what happens with the pandemic and what’s actually possible since it’s so hard to make plans right now. 

— Leann Goldberg ’20

Nothing yet! I’m trying to find work online or see if it will be possible to move into my house early. Otherwise, I’ve been keeping myself busy with intense cleaning and paring down. I’m selling stuff on Mercari and Depop and it sometimes feels like a full time job. If you have the opportunity to work or volunteer somewhere, you should definitely take it! I know that I would.

— Celeste Abourjeili ’20

Like almost everyone else, I have no concrete plans yet. Hopefully it will be safe enough soon to hang out with my friends. When that is the case, I think I’d like to do that all day every day. Other than that, my family and I are trying to figure out if we can make it back to our homeland of Colorado. If I end up taking a gap year, I will probably also be spending a big portion of my summer planning it out. 

— Cameron Leo ’20

As of right now, it looks like I’ll be taking care of my little sister during the day (given that summer camps are either closed or online), and I’ll be working weekends and some nights at a store a couple of blocks away from where I live. Hopefully I’ll be able to see my boyfriend when circumstances allow. Like Celeste, I’m also selling things that I don’t use or need on Mercari, which I find is also a good way to make some money for college. Other than that, I’m just waiting for a change with our current global crisis. My uncle always told me, “change is the only constant in life,” and in times like these where change is either slow-coming or negative, I’m putting my faith in the inevitability of a positive change. 

— Kaitlyn Romanger ’20

I think everyone is pretty unsure about what’s going to happen this summer as New York City begins to open up. Just like my fellow Editor-in-Chiefs, I am also not completely sure of what my summer plans are. My family and I are hoping to be able to make it to Greece this summer. The majority of my extended family lives in Greece, and I am hoping to be able to safely fly out to see them. I am also trying to do as much as I can to stay healthy right now. If I do make it out to Greece, I don’t want to risk infecting any of my older family members. 

— Sofia Mahairas ’20

How can we stay healthy if we are mentally exhausted from sitting down all day staring at a computer/iPad/phone screen not once, but every day?

We’ve all been there. It’s the middle of quarantine, you’ve been on your phone since you woke up, and even though you’re sick of screen time, there seems to be nothing else to do. Especially in a New York City apartment, it’s so hard to find things to do that don’t involve technology — we all need a break sometimes. You can check out my article “Sick of Staying Home?” for ideas on safe things to do outdoors in the city. Or, you can talk to your family about getting away, if that’s an option. See if your family can rent an Airbnb in the suburbs or upstate for a couple of days. If you can’t, give yourself a break by temporarily shutting off your tech. I occasionally shut off my phone and put it away for twenty-four hours. This helps me to break the habit of reaching for my phone every time that I become bored, so I can finally become excited about other things. 

— Celeste Abourjeili ’20

During quarantine, I am alone and I don’t know what to do. I have friends, and they are constantly texting me, and I have many homework assignments to do, but I feel alone. 

Right now, it’s so understandable to feel alone because you don’t have access to the same support networks that you’re used to. Even though it’s great to text and Zoom with your friends, everyone understands that it’s not the same experience as an in-person meet up. I think what’s really important right now is to communicate with your friends and family, even if it’s a little awkward. If you tell your friends how you’re feeling, I bet they probably feel very similarly. Maybe they can share how they’re dealing with it? Also, now is a great time to try to feel a little more comfortable with being by yourself at times and even with your family. Personally, I really struggle with being alone and with feeling satisfied when I’m alone, so being forced to do that in quarantine has been difficult for me, too. However, what I’ve been trying to do is find different ways to practice self care, to try out new hobbies, and to connect with my family, whom I don’t see very much when I’m at school. I don’t think anyone will tell you that this time in isolation hasn’t been tough– everyone is struggling with adapting to such a new situation. What’s important right now is to realize that quarantine will end eventually, and your reunion with your friends will be so exciting at that point. My best advice for you, though, is to just tell your friends and family how you’re feeling if you’re comfortable doing that. More people than you realize have the exact same feelings that you do right now. Talking about these feelings will help you feel just a bit less alone. 

— Leann Goldberg ’20

Is summer school going to be online?

It was announced recently that Bronx Science summer school is canceled this year, but there will be citywide summer school for students who are failing classes and need to earn credits to pass them.