It was the last Saturday in October, and the first day that freshman horn player Paige Quillen could leave her Juilliard dorm room after enduring the 14-day quarantine New York State required to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a strange time indeed to be starting college, but the Dallas native and some new friends who hadn’t really met in-person before grabbed their masks and made up for lost time by taking the day to explore the city.
By Paige Quillen
8:30am: It’s my first morning out of quarantine, so I wake up early enough to go downstairs and get breakfast from the cafeteria. The walk out of the suite felt great since for the last 14 days I’ve had all my meals delivered to me and only been able to leave my room to go to the bathroom.
9am: After finishing my yogurt parfait, I quickly make my way toward Boule & Cherie as my caffeine intake was drastically limited within my dorm room.
9:30am: When I make it back into the Meredith Willson Residence Hall, I greet my suitemates. The excitement of seeing people in-person compared to over a Zoom camera is honestly an incredible feeling, and I have really enjoyed my time meeting people so far today.
10am: I get dressed to go out with some fellow first-years, not knowing where we want to go but all wanting to explore the city we now live in! We do a lot of walking and end up at a garden center called the Sill. Several of us buy plants to bring back with us in hopes of making our dorm rooms seem more comforting.
11:30am: After passing several food stands, we all felt a bit hungry and decided to sample a New York delicacy—pizza. I speak for most of us when I say nothing compares to pizza in New York.
1pm: We continue to walk and end up in Central Park, which is only a few blocks from Juilliard’s campus. A saxophonist and drummer performed some beautiful works such as Errol Garner’s “Misty” and other well-known songs. Being able to listen to live music again was such a spirit-lifter.
3pm: After being out for a while, I decide it would be beneficial for me to go back and practice for a while as I have a lesson the following day! The next two hours were filled with Mozart and technical etudes, but the exploring we did added to my motivation.
5:30pm: I grab dinner from the dining hall and meet with some more people I’d only met in Zoom classes, and we head down to Times Square.
6:30pm: The energy within Times Square was incredible! As we walked through, we stopped to watch dancers do a routine for a crowd—socially distanced of course! Looking around at the massive billboards that surround me, it finally hits that this is now where I live, and it’s a magical moment.
8pm: We head back to Lincoln Center Plaza and hang out, getting to know each other and reflecting on our day wandering the city. It’s so much to take in, but it’s an incredible experience. We decide our final stop for the night will be Riverside Park.
9pm: As I stand in Riverside Park looking back at the city, I feel immensely happy about being in the Juilliard community. My first day here in the city has been unforgettable, and the connections I’ve made in just one day have been so incredible.
10:20 pm: Back in my suite, I FaceTime my mom to fill her in on my first day out of the dorm. While being away has been incredible, quarantine made it difficult being away from home and family.
Midnight: After an exceptionally long day of exploring, walking, and talking, I’m ready to sleep. Overall, quarantine truly made socializing feel more enjoyable and made me more grateful for the opportunity to be here.