Though there has only been a week of this new semester so far, it’s quickly become clear to me just how much value I previously placed on the social aspect of coming back to school. Generally, I’d describe myself as more of an introvert. I like having my own space, I tend to stay quiet during class, and talking to new people has never been the easiest thing for me. That being said, I find myself eagerly awaiting the start of a school year to make up for the summer I’ve spent away from the friends I don’t have near me. So far, the hardest adjustment has been coming to terms with the fact that things won’t quite be going that way.
It’s easy to fall into whatever other bad feelings that disappointment brings with it. I’m not above admitting that I enjoy the occasional wallowing in those emotions, but with everything going the way it is now, I’ve been trying to make an effort to stay away from that in favor of finding ways to make do from home. Zoom calls and Discord group chats aren’t quite the same thing as bursting into a friend’s dorm room and sitting there for 3 hours, but it definitely helps when the only people you’ve seen for the past four months are your immediate family.
Still, those Zoom calls and that Discord group chat has probably been some of the most helpful things my friends and I have put together. None of us are very big texters, if our normal phone group chat is anything to go by, but Discord has served as a great way to help us spend some time together. I think we spent the most time together during last year’s fall semester than we had in any of our previous school years, likely due to the fact that the majority of us moved into our school’s off campus apartments and we were just a few steps away from each other. Game nights were something that quickly made their way into our weekly, even daily agendas. We adapted that to fit our new virtual setting using Discord. One of our friends will share their screen, showing us one of the many online multiplayer games we can use (our current favorite is All Bad Cards) and we turn on our mics to yell and laugh at each other just as we would on a normal game night.
The Zoom calls are a new addition to our schedule, but they’re something I think others might find just as helpful. Often our hangouts on campus simply include sitting in the same area while we all do work, occasionally cutting in to ask a question, share a twitter post, or make some coffee. After we figured out what our schedules would be looking like this semester, we found a meeting time that would work for the majority of us and set up a weekly study session. We spend the first few minutes catching up and sharing how our week has been before splitting our screens between the video chat and whatever it is we want to work on. It’s something consistent that keeps us seeing each other regularly, isn’t too far off from what we would normally be up to, and helps us hold each other accountable!
Of course, these are only two ways we’ve used to keep in touch with one another from different states and time zones. As the semester goes on, I’m sure we’ll find even more ways to spend time together and continue to stay in touch even if we can’t all be in the same place.