Elaiza Suarez is a freshman secondary education major from Saipan. She and Mazie Manalan, who also is featured in this series, graduated from high school together and then enrolled together at UNLV.
How has your routine changed since COVID-19?
I used to live in South Complex, so we had to move all of our belongings and it has been really different. I am used to having a roommate and social interaction with everyone. I now live on my own, which is fine but I miss the interaction. I now wake up later than usual. Used to wake up at 9 to go to class but now at around 12.
Are you happy living by yourself?
I guess. I like having my own room but I like having someone there with me just to be a friend, just a presence.
Have you started doing any new hobbies?
I paint a lot. I haven’t been back into painting but watch more Netflix. My friends and I try to cook now that we have access to a kitchen.
Have you discovered anything new about yourself?
I know myself pretty well, but I have been questioning my major. I always wanted to be a teacher, but when I started at UNLV I declared political science because I wanted to be a lawyer but thought it was going to be too difficult. Now I am thinking I can take that path in a different way.
Can you describe the moment that this all became real to you?
A week to two weeks prior to spring break we had it all planned out. We were going to California, paid for our AirBnB, and then found out that Disneyland, Universal Studios, Knott's Berry were all closing. Everything we wanted to do closed. So we had to devise a new plan. But then we couldn’t go any longer due to travel bans. My friends and I were afraid to leave the dorms so we knew we couldn’t go anywhere. The population on the island we are from is so small that it is affecting everyone. There are limited resources. Getting testing is very difficult there so everyone is automatically quarantined for 14 days when they fly in. Now there are four cases, which is scary because they do not have the resources to get treatment. So I am so grateful that the university has a place for me to stay.
What is the population of your island?
About 60,000. The main economy is tourism.
Have there been any moments over the last few weeks that has really stuck with you?
I feel that on campus it is super safe. I have felt that from the beginning when I first moved here. When I step off I feel like, “Why am I outside? I should go back on campus.” There is not really any moment when I feel like I need to leave Nevada, except when you step into Wal-Mart or Target. It looks like an apocalypse or something. You can’t get any supplies like toilet paper, water, cleaning supplies.
Is there a shoutout you want to send to anyone?
Shoutout to my dad. He’s in the Philippines right now. Love you, Dad.
Any advice to fellow students, wherever they are?
Just be safe. Take care of yourself and know that you are not alone. Everyone is experiencing the same thing.