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Whoops! You got COVID. No judgement—you have likely taken the proper precautions and simply fallen prey to the cruel knife of chance. This is an obviously heinous situation to be in. Quarantine is ten days calculated from the day of symptom onset or a positive test result (so either you actually feel sick, or you don’t feel sick and just have to quarantine longer than symptomatic people). It’s a lose-lose situation. Regardless, you are now required to self-isolate, either at home or elsewhere. When choosing your new hibernation den, one of the finest only options is the Marriott hotel on Orms Street downtown. You might be attracted to the high-flying hotel lifestyle or the free gourmet food. To those of you in this camp, take the dead look in my eyes as my request for you to reconsider. But maybe you have a genuinely important reason: Your house only has one bathroom, your roommates are high-risk, etc. In this case, from one fully-vaccinated, law-abiding citizen to another, I present the guide to Marriott living.

Bring everything.

When you tell Health Services that you’d like to isolate in the Marriott, you have nary a few hours to pack your entire life into a suitcase. They will tell you to pack light; do not listen to them. You will have access to a suggested packing list and available amenities. Pack according to these at a minimum. But in your “personal care kit for bathing and grooming,” be comprehensive. You will only receive bar soap and shampoo for toiletries, and the hotel is not able to service its COVID wing. This means if you want toothpaste, conditioner, or anything of that sort, you have to bring it when you arrive. I have since learned the fatal differences between conditioner and hair cream. Do not follow in my footsteps.

Other items to pack include snacks (unless you are really into Ruffles Original potato chips for some reason) and a reusable bowl and mug. Nothing is more demoralizing than washing a paper coffee cup in your hotel sink for tomorrow’s coffee, and the paper bowls can’t even hold one packet of the Top Ramen they provide. In the end, as long as it fits in the back seat of an EMS SUV, pack whatever you think will help you get through these times. Except clothes. You’ll barely need those.

Flip your space.

Your hotel room will come completely void of character, the quintessence of mediocre lodging. You can change that. As far as I’m aware, it is not illegal to move the furniture of your hotel room around, so customize your space to suit your needs. I pushed my two full beds together to form a California, Oregon, and Washington King bed, and I moved my nightstand next to my sofa chair. It might not seem like much, but it can really make the room feel just a bit more cozy. And please, if you can somehow arrange a blanket fort among the furniture (trust me, I tried), send a picture. I need to see my vision through.

Order the Chef’s Choice (especially for dinner).

You place meal orders for a whole week, so you have to commit to your choices early. For lunch and dinner, there will be a repeating set of regular choices, along with the mysterious Chef’s Choice. Especially for dinner, I repeat: Order the Chef’s Choice. Fried chicken sandwiches and pasta alfredo sound delicious, but they’re actually made of an amusing medley of chalk, cushion foam, and cardboard (think the Almost Pizza skit from SNL). You can taste the cooks’ apathy. But in the Chef’s Choice, the kitchen staff really brings the heat with edible proteins, flavored sauces, and real vegetables. If you haven’t lost your sense of taste, you’re doing yourself a massive favor.

Get outside.

Don’t ask me why—the windows open by less than a foot. If you want fresh mask-filtered air, you will need to step into the wonderful little lawn flanking the hospital wing of the hotel. This is it. The hotel still has regular guests, so you’re only permitted to traverse these few square feet. Make it work. Pacing, sitting—get outside as much as you can. It’ll do you and your vitamin D levels wonders. In my experience, the other visitors graciously decide to not eye you like you’re a rabid raccoon. They eye you like you’re a normal one.

Bring useful entertainment.

Many courses and professors are wholly unequipped for teaching remote students. It is highly possible that your classes will provide no Zoom link, no recordings, no nothing except online readings and assignments. Staying on top of that work will burn some daylight, but you will have a lot of free time without needing to acquire meals, socialize, or even walk. Bring a book you’ve been meaning to read, or else you’ll discover Stardew Valley only costs $5 on the Apple Store, and then you’re hooked on a game for which you’ll soon have no time to play. No promises, though—I brought a book.

Get those creative online socialization juices flowing again.

Remember when we didn’t see our friends for literal months last year? Take solace in that phase of the pandemic being over. Also take solace in the society-wide strides we’ve made in terms of online socialization. Force your roommates to play Zoom Monopoly with you, or use that new Hulu Watch Party feature. There’s no better time.

Remember that everything will be okay.

Upon my COVID diagnosis, I may or may not have felt like a stain on humanity, morally bankrupt and wholly irredeemable. If you feel this way, let me be the first to say that you are not. But that may not be that soothing, so as you’re emotionally healing, try to keep in mind that you’re incredibly unlikely to become severely ill, and you will be out soon. Look forward to the upcoming three months in which you won’t have to take any COVID tests, and good luck.


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