What it's really like to self-isolate in Halifax

Coming out to Nova Scotia? Prepare to quarantine for 14 days. I'm in middle of mine and, surprisingly, it could be worse.

Paintings and paint brushes My artistic output is reaching Bob Ross level during this two-week stint. (photo: Phoebe Knight)

It seems as though everything we do has been flipped inside out and backwards in 2020, and the back to school season is shaping up to be no exception.

In late August of any other year, I’d typically be shopping for a new backpack for carrying my textbooks to and from campus, drawing up a map of where my lectures are located or meeting up with friends I hadn’t seen all summer, hypothesizing about the excitement and potential of the upcoming school year.

This year, though, I found myself in a completely different position. Instead of shopping for backpacks, I was buying masks. Instead of locating my classes, I was filing paperwork to enter the province. Instead of coming up with exciting plans with my friends, we’re discussing whether or not we think in-person classes will be back for the winter semester. Among all of the ways that life has changed since March, though, the largest difficulty has been entering Nova Scotia.

I, an Ontarian, was eager to come back to Halifax basically the second I left. Halifax’s relatively low case count and early reopening were understandably appealing to me and others in my position, but the freedom came at a price: a mandatory 14-day isolation period upon entering the province.


How many hours are really in a day?

As I write this, I’m on day five of my isolation and I’ll be honest, I’ve had more fun getting teeth pulled. Though a necessary and important component of preserving public health, isolation is, to put it lightly, difficult. Despite the technological advances that have helped us stay connected for the past few months, nothing really compares to actual in-person contact with the outside world.

One of the major challenges I’ve been met with in isolation is figuring out what in the world I’m going to do all day. I’d never realized there were so many hours in a day (and that the hours themselves were so long). Personally, I’ve been filling the time painting, reading and, in full honesty, scrolling through TikTok for hours on end and binge-watching Selling Sunset. Nobody’s perfect.

Isolation doesn’t have to be all bad, though. For starters, if you look at it for what it really is—a necessary evil before reaping the benefits of living in Halifax—it makes it a lot easier to stomach. Your boredom can be a blessing, too. Think of all of the things you’ve been pushing off, convincing yourself you’re too busy. For me, one such thing is writing this article. Another has been improving my guitar skills. There are no excuses now, just 18 long, empty hours for you to learn something new or improve an area of your life. Or you could watch Netflix. That’s fine, too.


Get the essentials—and some extra stuff

If you’re going to be returning to Halifax from outside of the Atlantic bubble in the coming days, weeks or, let’s be honest, months, I don’t want to scare you about the isolation period. But it’s important to have a few things in place to ensure you have a safe, successful and, dare I say, fun, isolation.

First, make sure that you have a grocery delivery in place before you arrive. Don’t forget to include essentials like soap, toilet paper and toothpaste in your order because if you run out, it could get ugly.

Second, as I mentioned before, isolation is the perfect time to learn or perfect a new skill. Mastering a new talent or craft is also the best way to pass the time—it engages your mind and keeps you challenged. If you’re going to be picking up something new, though, make sure you have all the necessary materials (and lots of them) before you enter quarantine.

Finally, isolation is, well, isolating. I’m lucky enough to be isolating with two of my roommates, but if you’re on your own it can get really lonely. Make sure you have support systems in place—whether it be a friend stopping by to say ‘hi’ at a safe distance or a FaceTime with your family—reaching out to someone every day will not only help you stay sane, but will help the time pass.


We need to do our part

As boring as it gets, my isolation actually seems to be flying by. Though I don’t think that being stuck in the house with few connections to the outside world is anyone’s idea of fun, I can’t stress enough how important and necessary the Atlantic bubble’s self-isolation policy is. If we can all sacrifice two weeks of hanging out with friends, we can be sure that our province is safe and everyone is healthy, which, in my opinion, is more important in the long run.

It’s safe to say that nothing will be normal about the school year ahead, but self-isolation is one of the best ways that we can help our province return back to some sense of normalcy. So fill out your forms, order your groceries, and get isolating!