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How more time at home has sparked new interests for UA students

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Photo courtesy of Aliya McDonald. Strawberry earrings McDonald made. 

The pandemic has imposed many hardships for students at the University of Arizona. The transition to online classes, cancellation of events and limitation of large group gatherings has left many students at home with more time on their hands than ever before. 

When spending more time at home, students may feel the pressures of becoming isolated from the world around them and detached from their usual lifestyles.

In order to combat these rising frustrations, students have been looking for new and adaptive ways to keep themselves busy during the extra time they are now presented with. This has led to the inspiration for a variety of new hobbies and interests for some UA students. 

Roland Hawkins, a business management major at the UA, decided to take advantage of this extra time and follow through with a plan he has been placing on the back burner for over a year.

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In the summer of 2019, Hawkins had the idea to create a podcast with his two friends, Josh Klein and David Wilson, from his hometown of Los Angeles, California. 

“We would always have really good in-depth conversations about various topics and some would even be funny,” Hawkins said.

The idea to record their conversations was suggested as a joke during a friendly hangout. Although, after consideration, Hawkins and his friends concluded that they wanted to see this idea come to life. 

Hawkins, Klein and Wilson found that the summer had slipped away from them before they had the opportunity to start this project. Yet a few months later when the pandemic hit, they discovered they had the benefit of bonus time to finally take on this task. 

In May, the three friends set up a camera in their car and began the first episode of their podcast, NotSoSerious. 

The friends discussed material regarding events occurring around the world and within society, along with other topics they felt would entertain listeners. 

“We want to make people laugh and bring a light to the world and provide some positive insight to people's lives,” Hawkins said. 

NotSoSerious is now offered on YouTube, Spotify, The Podcast App and other services. Hawkins hopes to continue making episodes in order to have fun with friends and provide a sense of escape for their listeners. 

Aliya McDonald, a history and art education major at the UA, also took advantage of the benefit of having extra time to explore diverse new hobbies. 

In March, McDonald found herself stuck in the quarters of her own home with nothing but time and access to online shopping. This resulted in an addiction to buying ‘quirky’ earrings off Etsy. 

After a few too many purchases, McDonald realized she wanted to attempt making them herself. Therefore, she purchased an earring making kit off of amazon, created an Etsy under the name ArtsyFartsyAliya and began her own side hustle

The process of making her custom handmade earrings turned out to be more tedious than intended, although it satisfied the desire to pass her free time in a productive manner. 

“Once you bake and glaze the clay, you use pliers to hook on the earring but the actual clay part is hard just because it is so small and you have to get details right. The whole process takes a couple of hours,” McDonald said. 

McDonald's products vary from avocado, egg, mushroom, flower and strawberry shaped clay earrings. 

This new hobby has offered McDonald a source to express her creativity while managing to make money in the process. 

“I think it's been cool exploring other outlets artistically so I am excited to further develop that practice,” McDonald said. 

While some students took this opportunity to branch out creatively, others explored ways in which they could keep active despite the many hours they spend attending online classes and sitting inside. 

Eric Cervantes, a business major at the UA, pushed his body to new limits during the course of the past few months. 

Cervantes has always had an interest in running, although the pandemic allowed him to find more time to practice this hobby and ultimately turn it into a passion.

“When I had nothing to do all day over the summer and I couldn't get a job, I would go on a run to pass time and I started to do that every day and started to really enjoy it,” Cervantes said. 

Cervantes has been able to commit about seven to nine hours a week to his training and managed to reach the massive milestone of running 20 consecutive miles. 

“I started running to stay healthy but that kind of changed as time progressed. I eventually want to complete a marathon and an Iron Man,” Cervantes said. 

Cervantes had signed up to attend the Holualoa Tucson Marathon on Dec. 5, but with the possible consequences of holding large group events during the pandemic, this occasion was canceled. 

Despite this cancellation, Cervantes plans to continue advancing his endurance skills and eventually have another chance to participate in a marathon and put his training to the test.

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced countless new obstacles but it has also presented new opportunities. With extra time on their hands, students were able to pursue new interests and hobbies that they were not able to tackle before. 


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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (9/17)
1,335 23 1.7%
Total (8/2)
22,564 434 1.9%
Includes tests since August 2, 2021
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated September 18, 2021