Staying Connected While Being Apart

Having nearly missed the train from Swarthmore to 30th street station in early March, I had no idea that my spring break was due for an indefinite extension. I remember being in a bit of a rush on the Thursday I left campus. The thought of saying goodbye to friends that I’d see again in just over a week seemed silly. In the coming months I, along with thousands of other college students across the country, was thrust into an unexpected period of separation and isolation. I am so grateful for all of the technology that has allowed me to stay in touch with my friends. Over the past few months, I’ve learned a lot about keeping in touch in the time of COVID as a college student, so I thought I’d share some of the insights I’ve gained thus far with you. 

  1. Try to find virtual ways to do the things you liked to do in person.

This first tip can be tricky. At the beginning of the stay-at-home orders, I yearned for normalcy. Zoom fatigue was beginning to set in from my virtual classes, and the last thing I wanted to do was try to attempt hanging out online. Once I accepted my new reality, my virtual horizons truly expanded. Back on campus, my friends and I used to really enjoy playing board games. In the past few months, we have found an online way to play nearly every game we used to enjoy. Coming together about once a week has been a really wonderful addition to my new routine. If you used to eat lunch with friends at a certain time, try eating together over zoom. You might not be eating the same meal depending on the time zone, but the togetherness can be really helpful. 

2. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

Zoom fatigue is a very real thing and online interaction isn’t exactly the same as in-person. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t force yourself to attend every virtual meeting. Chances are, there will be another one soon! 

3. Reminisce and plan (tentatively) for the future.

I feel so fortunate to have had nearly two years of on-campus college experience. When I’m feeling down, I love sharing memories from previous years with friends. My friends and I have also really enjoyed making plans for when we all reunite. 

4. Don’t underestimate the value of one-on-one conversation.

Group Zoom gatherings are amazing, but I’ve also really enjoyed spending one-on-one virtual time with friends. If you’re not in the mood for a big meeting, try reaching out to one person to FaceTime or even just text. 

These tips have been carrying me through virtual college, and I’m sure I’ll gain more insights as the semester goes on. How have you been adapting to our new, very virtual reality? 

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