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Socializing While Social Distancing

How to keep in touch while still staying six feet apart.

I am currently in the middle of my final semester as a college senior. But, I’m finishing my classes where life all began: my childhood home. Amidst rapidly developing news regarding COVID-19, many colleges across the globe have pushed students out of their dorms and resumed classes online in order to enforce social distancing. While I am more than happy to comply with public health regulations, I have still been experiencing a great amount of residual grief that I am unsure where to place. As a student about to graduate, I was anticipating so many lovely memories to come in the next couple months. My mother left her family behind in Ireland to watch me one day receive a degree she doesn’t have herself. I’ve endured some excruciating mental challenges throughout my own time at college. To me, graduation means that I have finally made it to the other side.

Perhaps the most important thing I keep reminding myself is that I am still graduating. In other words, I’ll still have a degree in my hands in a couple months time — I still did it. Even so, one of the biggest losses is simply time well spent. Having to say goodbye to so many of my friends with barely a day’s notice was surreal. Heavy clouds of disbelief hung heavy over every face I encountered on campus during my last few days. We could all communicate how we were feeling to one another with merely a look; there was always a place for solidarity, regardless of our disparate reasons for being sad to go.

Late bloomers still bloom.

However, these losses have made me want to hold all of these people closer— even though we have to keep at least six feet apart. During my first two years at college, I struggled to feel at home on campus. In fact, I remember returning from a semester abroad feeling as though I didn’t have many people waiting for me back home. However, I look now at all the friends I long to hug or just hold for a while, and I realize that I have finally made homes of so many people on campus. Late bloomers still bloom.

In order to keep in touch with these people in meaningful ways, it has taken some creativity. However, human connection has been one of the most effective remedies to cure the sadness I began to feel as I packed my dorm into boxes and suitcases. It may often feel like this is an end, but it is nothing close to it. You just have to keep fighting and reaching out to those who you love. Here’s how I’ve been staying connected.

FaceTime Flow with Friends

I’ve been to enough yoga classes at this point that I can recall a full session by memory. So, I took my mat to my backyard and called up a good friend from high school to flow some stress out together. If you don’t know a yoga routine off the top of your head, no worries! CorePower Yoga has free meditation and yoga sessions available online while their studios are closed. In addition, there are plenty of ways to keep your body moving while abstaining from your favorite fitness classes. For example, Orangetheory has been posting a full 30-minute at-home workout online each day. Also, Peloton is now offering a free 90-day trial of their app, which includes yoga, meditation, strength, stretching, bodyweight cardio and strength training exercises. Keep those endorphins flowing!

Homegrown Food Network

We’re all in the kitchen now more than ever before. As you make all kinds of concoctions with whatever stray ingredients you can find at the back of your cupboard, phone a friend to keep you company. For example, I video-chatted with a couple of my friends as we all made dinner last week. Now, we are planning to make a recipe together! Sick of eating the same thing everyday? Check out our guide to making fabulous meals with frozen food, perfect for jazzing up your supermarket supply. Everyone seems to be taking up bread-making as a hobby these days — what will be your newest specialty?

Online Game Nights

Many of my friends are big Dungeons & Dragons nerds, which means that we meet up on Zoom every week to continue our adventurous campaign together. If you love game nights, you can also keep playing your favorite group card games online— like Cards Against Humanity! In addition, you can also use a video conferencing service— like Google Hangouts — to screen-share all your favorite party games from Jackbox. One of the most important things to do during this quarantine is keep the laughs and the smiles coming. Laughing produces serotonin, which helps increase focus, objectivity and brainpower. Most importantly, laughing keeps you sane!

Virtual Book Clubs

First up on my reading list is Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous — a beautifully written book of prose perfect for days cooped up in the house. Even better than a lovely book is being able to share it with friends! So, I’ve gathered a couple of friends from college and brainstormed a list of books that we’ll tackle together. We haven’t yet figured out the nuts and bolts of the operation, but the plan is to check in over Zoom (the platform that has truly become a college student’s best friend) so we can talk about our own reading experiences. Questions, quotes, thoughts, musings, joint silence. Just meditating on a good book and enjoying one other’s company.

Happy Hour, Any Hour

Drinks with coworkers? Night out with friends? A romantic date over wine and cheese? You can still have it all! Chat with your girlfriends over drinks via Houseparty— a platform that allows you to practice social distancing while still gathering and enjoying the company of friends.So, you can still host that house party for your birthday — except everyone will just tune in from their own homes! It’s five o’clock somewhere!

Teresa Deely

Teresa Deely is a graduate from Columbia University with majors in English and Creative Writing. She is a freelance writer and marketing assistant working for clients in the wellness, jewelry, creative, and sports industries. She believes that one’s skin is yet another canvas and vehicle for art, and has loved styling her hair and applying makeup from a young age. Spending much of her time in educating youth and leading enrichment programs for children, she is highly motivated in discovering new ways to care for herself and sharing them with others.

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