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Katrina Makayan hugs her mother

‘We all have the same boundaries’

Katrina Makayan, who studies journalism, gives her mother, Vera Makayan, a goodbye hug before moving into West Village. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Katrina Makayan felt as though she were picking up where she left off. Last March, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced Northeastern to close its Boston campus, she had moved back to her family’s home in New York. 

She returned to Boston on Sept. 2. Her parents loaded up the car with a TV, kitchen and bathroom supplies, her bedding and clothes, and everything else she will need for the academic year at her new dorm. By the end of the day her surroundings felt normal. Or as normal as they could be.

“So far from what I’ve noticed, everyone appears to be social-distancing and wearing masks,” says Makayan, a sophomore journalism student. “If things were not like that, I would not be so comfortable.”

Makayan, a sophomore journalism student, needed two rolling carts to move into her apartment, which she will share with three friends. Photos by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Her West Village apartment was every bit as spacious as she had hoped it would be—two double rooms separated by a living room. The last of her roommates was scheduled to arrive Friday. Makayan is optimistic that they will be working together to deal with the pandemic.

“We have talked about it in depth, and we all have the same sort of boundaries when it comes to social distancing,” she says. “I know that one of my other friends is with someone who doesn’t really have the same views on social distancing and the whole pandemic in general, and I know that she and her other roommates are kind of on the edge. I’m just grateful that my roommates and I are all on the same page about it.”

Her family experienced COVID-19 shortly after Northeastern’s campus had been forced to shut down in March. Her father, an anesthesiologist at a hospital in Brooklyn, New York, tested positive for the disease.

Makayam appreciated her time at home in Brooklyn with her parents. Her father, Michael, an anesthesiologist, recovered from COVID-19 last spring. Photos by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

“It started with a cough, and then a fever,” she says. “We lived in a small apartment at the time—two bedrooms and two bathrooms for the four of us. My mom and I slept in the living room, my [older] brother had his own room, and my dad took their bedroom for those two weeks that he was isolated.

“We were super careful in the apartment. He always made sure to quarantine himself away from us because he did not want to expose us to anything. The first two to three months were very hard. It was straight-up isolation from everything and everyone.”

In spite of those pressures, Makayan was focused on making good use of the time. She had spent her initial semester last year in London via NUin, the university’s first-year study abroad program—with her three current roommates.

“I felt like I needed this time at home,” Makayan says. “I was going through a rough mental state, and it was a blessing to have my family. I was able to recharge, I guess.”

Makayan was looking forward to the structure of in-person classes after so many months away.

“I’m really excited to have a classroom experience again—even though it’s not going to be the same, it’s still something,” she says of the Hybrid NUflex approach that will blend in-person and remote learning. “Being in journalism, my classes are mostly discussion-based. It’s really important for me to have that connection with my peers.”

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