Algonquin College students discover new hobbies to keep themselves busy during quarantine. Photo credit: Gabrielle Vinette

As quarantine drags on, some Algonquin College students have been finding themselves.

Developing a new skill or hobby – one which follows social distancing and lockdown guidelines – has become the new norm. Between classes to attend, projects to complete and papers to write, students have to take care of their mental health while never leaving the house.

Mara Abrams, a first-year Algonquin student in the animation program, has started tree and plant gardening at the beginning of quarantine with her mother, Jennifer Abrams.

A neighbour approached them to ask if they might be willing to help take care of some plants.

“She said, ‘I have too many plants, can you guys take some?’ And we were like, ‘I guess?’ We’re not [a] very green thumb, but we gave it a try,” Mara Abrams said.

Since then, Abrams has collected a Christmas berry plant, an Inchplant, and a Lily.

Abrams’s sister had given them the Lily. She thought it was dead, but Mara and her mother now have it sprouting.

Abrams has kept her plants alive and well taken care of. She even had the chance to split the Ardisia tree into smaller ones and gave them to family members when she could.

“It was a good way to really connect with our neighbour,” she said. “She really likes plants. It’s a nice way to get to know each other since we’re new in the area [which] we live.”

Once Abrams figures out how to properly take care of the Inchplant, since they are more finicky, she plans to expand her small plant collection in the future.

“We spend a lot of time focusing and finding different places for it. And we’ll get a few more once we get it under control,” said Abrams.

For Ella Duchaine, a 21-year-old student studying business administration marketing, the lockdown has meant rediscovering a much-loved hobby. She started reading books from a variety of different genres other than the usual business and stocks books.

“It’s obviously not new, but I started reading more,” said Duchaine. “I bought a Kobo a while ago and I hadn’t touched it and now I’m reading every night.”

Since December, Duchaine has read We Were Liars by E. Lockhart and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak on her e-reader. She is able to get her books through her library account for free.

However, she plans to read at least one book every week starting with rereading the ones she read in high school such as To Kill A Mockingbird, Things Fall Apart, and The Kite Runner.

“If you’re forced to read a book, it’s definitely a different thing than actually choosing to read it by yourself,” said Duchaine. “You don’t enjoy it as much.”