One of the hardest parts about the transition to online learning was not being able to see my friends. The people around me are absolutely wonderful, and I normally look forward to seeing them every day. Most activities become social activities—doing groceries at Trader Joe’s? Walking over with a friend in nice weather is such a treat. Folding laundry? The perfect time to catch up with a roommate. Studying for an exam? A great opportunity for group studying. To me, college is inseparable from the people I love dearly.
However, distance does not break up these connections! Although it is not quite the same to see someone virtually it is the best substitute we have. Below, I will list some of the measures I have put in place to make sure I still feel socially connected even when I have moved back home to a separate country from where most of my friends are.
- Calls nonstop! Okay, well, not nonstop. I do my best to call at least one friend every night, and it really does make me feel a lot better amidst everything happening in the world. Talking to people in a similar situation as me makes me feel more supported.
- Group workouts—one of my new favorite ways to socialize virtually. A friend and I play the same YouTube workout video at the same time and do it together. The fun of seeing each other panting, attempting a crazy complicated move, or wishing that a particular section would stop is highly entertaining. For extra fun, try a Zumba workout!
- Big drop-in hangout calls. At the same time every week, Wharton Council has an open zoom call for people to drop in and talk to each other. We also try to feature a different alum to join in the call and hang out with us, which keeps things interesting and fun!
- Netflix parties. There is a Google Chrome extension called “Netflix Party”, and if you and a friend both have Netflix accounts and can download the extension, you can sync up your videos. It is a lot of fun to do in a group, especially if you can video call at the same time.
- Cooking together! Figure out a fun, easy recipe, and make and eat it at the same time.
- Online shopping together—scroll the same website and add items to your cart, comparing them with a friend as if you were shopping together. Whether you make any purchases is up to you!
I know that none of these activities are a real substitute for spending quality time together in person, but it does make self-isolation and lockdown easier to cope with. On the bright side, the fact that me and the people I am close to stay so connected even when so far apart makes me cherish my friendships even more. I am really aware that I have found some incredible people while at Penn, and am very thankful for them.