Class of COVID-19: Eric Vandenberghe

Eric is an Administrative Assistant in the Department of Chemistry.

A man and a woman smile together with a sign that says Let's Stay In.
Eric (left) and his girlfriend, Sarah.

Who are you quarantined with?
I have the great fortune of being quarantined with my girlfriend, Sarah. We are both lucky as we can work from home.

How have your days changed since physical/social distancing became the new normal?
I don’t leave the house or interact with other people. I am an introvert, so I thrive in this environment. Save for the global pandemic and the anxiety and stress that comes with that, this is a fine working environment for me. I sometimes feel guilty enjoying my time at home as I know essential workers are putting their lives on the line to keep the world turning. I try to be mindful of this, and temper my enthusiasm.

What do you miss most about the MIT Campus?
 The Charles River can be beautiful in the sunshine. I love walking along the river and looking out at the boats.

A photo of an apartment corner work space.
Eric’s work-from-home space.e

What are you most looking forward to about the return to the “regularly scheduled program”?
I miss the routine. In the few months I have worked in the Department of Chemistry, I found what works for me. There were fewer surprises; I lost less hair due to stress. That will no doubt return (the routine, not my hair), and I look forward to that.

What are some aspects of this moment in time that you are grateful for?
My family’s health has been a blessing amongst this pandemic. I worry about my older relatives, and those with compromised immune systems, but they have taken this seriously and avoided any issues to this point. I hope for that good fortune to continue. I am eternally grateful to the essential workers keeping our world afloat. They are heroes and should be recognized as such.

What are some new or preexisting activities/hobbies/research ventures that you’ve taken on while being in quarantine?
I have been reading more. I am in the middle of “Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson, which has been pretty good to this point. I enjoy reading, but often forgo it for watching TV or playing PlayStation. Hopefully this is a habit that continues post-quarantine.

A corner of an apartment work space.
Eric’s home office space.

How have you been maintaining social connections while practicing social distancing?
I have been video chatting with my family more. The length of the chats are much more substantial.

What will you remember most about daily life during this global pandemic?ev
I will remember it as one continuous day. When you rarely leave your home, the days mix together. Is it Tuesday or Saturday? Tough to say.