Traveling: A Collaboration


Sadie and Ryan decided to join forces to share their different experiences over break. We hope you enjoy reading them! 

Sadie’s Travels

Break, a time to destress and relax. A getaway from schoolwork and early morning classes. Little did we know, traveling would be far from easy during a pandemic!

It was the first time I would be traveling again since February. A quick one week, direct flight trip to Tampa, Florida to visit my family. As a frequent flyer, I know just how busy the airport can be during the holidays. I give myself just enough time to check my bag, get through security, and get a quick coffee or snack from Starbucks. However, I was shocked to see the airport completely desolate. Those who were traveling were bundled in safety precautions: children wearing goggles and safety glasses to prevent them from touching their eyes, people wearing double masks, face shields, and gloves, and of course the overwhelming scent of alcohol as people struggled to put on hand sanitizer after touching almost anything. With these masks, IDs were forced to be out the entire time. Only once did I have to quickly slip my mask off to show the TSA officer my face. To prevent the officers from touching them, new scanning machines were put in place. Luckily, no COVID test was needed to travel to my destination, so I easily got through security. 

Just as I thought the place couldn’t get any emptier, I noticed that several shops and restaurants were temporarily closed. Sadly, Starbucks was one of them. In addition, certain areas of the airport were blocked off, such as chairs and lounge areas. Similarly, on the plane only the window and aisle seat were available unless you had the entire row to yourself. Because only half the usual amount of people were traveling, both Ella and I got our own rows. Only water and one snack was offered, the only time masks could be taken off. 

Getting off in Florida was a breeze and just like normal, despite the masks. Safety rules and regulations regarding COVID there are a lot more lenient. For example, no test or quarantine is required after arriving, all restaurants are allowed maximum capacity, and gyms don’t require masks. I saw several people out in public without masks as if the pandemic didn’t even exist. I was shocked at how different things were!

Overall, I had a great trip and enjoyed the warm weather and catching up with my family. Yet, the end of the trip is where the difficulty begins. Because New York State is a lot more strict with its rules and regulations, I had to get a rapid antigen test done within 48 hours of traveling back. Therefore, the day before I left, I had to get up at 6:30 am in order to get in line for the tests done in the airport. The testing time window is from 8 am to 12 pm, so we wanted to get there extra early after hearing the line tends to get extremely long. They weren’t kidding! After arriving at 7:30, we were already tenth in line. Before I knew it, the line began reaching close to 50 people, then 80, and when leaving, it was already close to 100. Many of these people would be cut due to the time limit. Within 20 minutes of getting this quick nose swab test, which you had to do yourself, I received my negative results and a ton of paperwork to show the New York Department of Health when I had arrived.

Upon return, I was forced to fill out paperwork containing questions about my current health condition, address, and test results. In four days I would have to return to the airport for a saliva test. Every day leading up to it, I received texts from the Department of Health informing me to stay in quarantine and asking if I had any symptoms. The test itself was super easy, as it was a self-done mouth swab. Registering was the hard part. It is all online with lots of numbers and codes included. This is to make sure you receive your results via email. My test came back negative three days later, and I could finally return to school and the public.


Ryan’s Travels

As Sadie has ventured to a different part of the country, I on the other hand have stayed close to home these past few months, with the exception of a quick college trip to New York City. I have encountered many of the same experiences in my surrounding area, such as getting COVID tests, barren areas, and new ways of doing everyday activities. 

It hasn’t been easy navigating through life as a teenager with a global pandemic occurring. Much of my senior year has been taken away from me, including many club interactions, annual school functions, and full-length sports seasons. I also haven’t been able to see family as often, which has really affected my traveling this past year. I’ve had to cancel not one, but three annual trips this year; Florida, Washington, and North Carolina, all because it was much too dangerous to risk my safety. 

With the countdown to graduation being only four months away, I have been diving into the search to find the right college to attend for the past eight months. I narrowed my search down to eight schools and have got accepted into them all! But as COVID-19 has affected many aspects of my high school life, college is no different. I’m not even enrolled in college and the pandemic is already affecting my experiences with it, how crazy! A major struggle is taking tours of the colleges I’ve got accepted into. With the pandemic, it’s been hard to find open slots, times, and tours in general to take to look at each campus. 

I’ve always known that I wanted to experience college in the city. Three out of the eight schools I got accepted into are in/near NYC (Manhattan College, St. John’s University, Stony Brook University). Last month I was fortunate enough to find an open slot to tour Manhattan College that coordinated with my busy schedule. 

My father and I took a train down to the city one early Friday morning. Every other seat on the train car was blocked off from people sitting in them. My dad and I sat across from one another. The rules we’re simple, keep to yourself and keep your mask on at all times. I am fortunate in that my uncles live in Queens. They let us stay in their apartment while they have been living in their upstate home for most of the pandemic. I expected the city to be bare and not as busy, but it was just a tad less crowded than how it usually is. But then it crossed my mind that the pandemic has been around for almost a year now, and people have been getting back into old routines, but with new rules. 

Seeing that this was my first college tour, it went really well. My dad and I both got tested the week before and we were both negative, so we were good to go. Only one person other than the student was allowed to attend the tour. We had a small group of 12 people on the tour, plus the guide. Everyone wore their masks at all times and walked within distance of each other. At times the guide was struggling to talk loud enough because we spread far apart. Some parts of the campus were blocked off, due to student activity, or they were cleaning the areas. But the tour was very complete overall and I was very satisfied with it. 

After the tour, my dad and I walked around the city as visitors do. Many lower-class stores were boarded off and weren’t allowing any customers. I honestly wasn’t that shocked, because that’s what I was expecting. The upper-class stores, such as Nike, M&M, and America and American Eagle were still open and allowed people to shop. As I stated before, the city was still busy, but not as busy as I’ve seen it before. Mostly everyone was wearing winter clothing, due to it being the middle of winter, and masks as well. 

Overall, COVID-19 has affected so many aspects of my high school experience and the past year of my life. It will sure be an adventure to navigate the college life through this pandemic in the coming months.