The College Years: Learning to Embrace Alone Time

Being surrounded by other young adults is thought of as a core experience for college students. Due to COVID-19, young people are staying in and limiting their social bubble. To some this is hell, but some Hamline students have embraced the opportunity to pick up new creative endeavors.


Aida Stromdahl
One of junior Asha Salah’s hobbies is calligraphy, which she was drawn to and recently started during quarantine. Besides calligraphy, Salah is also experimenting with painting, bullet journaling and learning new languages (French and Russian) and their orthographies.

Sarah Sawyer, A&E Reporter

Masks, hand sanitizer, canned goods, bottled water, a bunker, cash…when it comes to prepping for a pandemic, these are some of the first things that come to mind for many folks. But, what about a creative space? A poetry wall? A ukulele? Junior Cata Osorio thought beyond her basic needs to imagine the isolation of COVID-19 as a time to, in her words, “level up,” and that’s exactly what she did. 

“I wanted to be able to depend on myself for entertainment,” Osorio said.

Drawing from past hobbies and long-dormant aspirations, Osorio created a master list of possible activities to do in her apartment. To keep it from being overwhelming, she organized possible activities into categories. There are sections for movement, writing, video, games, art and even a category for her cat, Junebug. From the start of the pandemic, she has dressed up in a new outfit every day, make-up and all, even when there is nowhere to go. 

“Over quarantine, I made a friend in myself. [Hobbies have] done a lot for my mental health and progress as a human being,” Osorio said. Quoting from one of her favorite books, “You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero, “You hold the universe in the palm of your hand.”

Osorio has put many of her artistic creations and affirmations on display in her space, because it is important to her to be surrounded by art. She has no intention of putting aside these endeavours post-COVID-19. In fact, she plans to expand her horizons even further by creating a podcast and live musical performances.

Senior Kaia Ziegler, went into quarantine with intentionality. As she described it, she goes through hobbies in waves or like a revolving door. As an almost meditative practice, Ziegler was drawn to line art. Previously, she had been a fan of adult coloring books.

“It puts my mind at ease to focus on something beautiful,” Ziegler said.

Ziegler jumped on the bread-making train of 2020 as well. She has made around 20 loaves of French bread. One of the more exciting parts of picking up a new hobby is the occasional mishaps that happen as one learns. While getting into bread making, Ziegler accidentally ordered a pound of yeast. She noted that she might try making sourdough.

Noting the sharp increase in screen time most people have had during COVID-19, Ziegler believes that it’s important to be intentional with your time. She stressed the importance that people allow themselves, guilt-free, the time to be away from a screen. 

“Before COVID[-19], I thought of going on social media as a mind break. It’s not,” Ziegler said.

A line art illustration by senior Kaia
Ziegler — a product of social distancing.

One strategy Ziegler picked up is knitting during online meetings. This is an activity that allows her to still pay attention to the speaker while also taking her eyes off the screen. So far, she has been able to knit a baby blanket for a newborn relative —  priceless gift. Currently, she is working on a gray-gradient adult blanket. 

Ziegler has picked up knitting, which gives her eyes a break from the screen during online meetings.

While some have made new creations, others have dove into old ones, very old ones. Junior Asha Salah picked up calligraphy during quarantine. Drawing from several different styles of calligraphy, Salah has cultivated a love for this slowly dying art form. She has a wide collection of pens and experiments with different kinds of paper. 


As a linguistics minor, Salah’s love for scripts and alphabets has led her to dabble in a variety of languages. From ancient Greek to Russian, she has explored the linguistic world. She does not have the direct intention to ever be fluent in these languages, she just loves to learn about the vast landscape that is human languages.