Emily Reutlinger, Head of BA Musical Theatre, shares her quarantine experience

Are you a new or returning RCS student who needs to quarantine in Glasgow? New York State native Emily Reutlinger, Head of BA Musical Theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, shares her experience of quarantining twice in the US and UK.


Black and white portrait of Emily Reutlinger, Head of BA Musical Theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland I visited family in the US this summer, which meant I had two 14-day quarantine periods, one at home in New York State and on my return to Glasgow.

It did feel strange to go from Glasgow to a small town in Central New York in July and into quarantine for two weeks when they were moving into their version of a stage four lockdown. It felt more relaxed there, with people going to restaurants and visiting each other at home, although everybody was good at wearing masks. There was very clear information from the health board in the county where my family lives.

My sister travelled home from Brooklyn and we quarantined together, essentially in an Airbandb – the home of our friends who were away. Everyone’s experience of quarantine will be different and I was lucky to be with my sister. However, I did it on my own when I returned to Glasgow.

Travelling internationally both times felt really safe although it was weird being in deserted airports. I was one of only four humans I saw while I waited to board to New York. Both international flights had lots of space, which felt reassuring, and the airlines were on top of everything.

When it comes to travelling, it’s important to try and find as much calm in the situation as you can. I made sure that I could take my time through the airport and found that being over-prepared isn’t actually a bad thing. All the normal travel tips apply, like making sure you’re comfortably dressed, and you could make a little kit for yourself which has a couple of spare masks, sanitising wipes and food if you’re allowed to take it on board.

I like podcasts or audiobooks for those moments when you have a lot of waiting around, something that I can follow and use my brain.

When I returned to Glasgow, I went straight back to work – based at home – which made it easier as I almost didn’t know that I was in quarantine.

Jet lag definitely helped! Being at home meant I could take my time to adjust to my new schedule. If you don’t want to do too much as your body clock is out of kilter, you can make use of that time to get yourself sorted to a new time zone.

There’s definitely FOMO (fear of missing out) during quarantine so chat or check in with other people, especially those who are also quarantining. It makes you feel that you aren’t alone.

Seeing people online means you still have some kind of social interaction but if you’re spending lots of time on Zoom or Teams, you might feel exhausted by it. Remember that a good old-fashioned phone call can be helpful if you don’t want to stare at another screen. FaceTime and WhatsApp have audio-only functions if you’re relying on WiFi or calling long distance. They’re free too, which is nice.

Don’t feel you have to jump right into things when quarantine ends. My sister and I had to phase ourselves out and pay attention to our own comfort levels. There may be the urge to dive in at the deep end with socialising but take your time. Come out of it at your own pace.

You might want to start a new project during your time at home but don’t put yourself under any pressure. It’s like when we first encountered lockdown – we were all going to get fit, read books, do puzzles. Take that pressure off yourself — do something if and when you feel like it but don’t force yourself. I recently moved house so when I wasn’t working, I used my quarantine period to set up my new space.

When it comes to grocery deliveries — whether it’s through the RCS Welcome Home service or online — order some things that will make you happy. You don’t have to splurge but treats are a big deal!

Your sense of time may also go a bit askew. I’ve done two quarantines and now they feel like they went by in a snap, though it doesn’t always feel like that when you’re in it.

We’re very much all in this together this year, forging new kinds of connections, and we’re going to need each other in lots of different ways, at varying points. There will be rollercoasters to come but hopefully it feels like we’re moving forward into the new.


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