As of this week, every person 16+ in the United States is now eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine! I highly encourage you to sign up if you haven’t. There is more information at the end of this article. So, as we transition from the last 12 months of staying 6 feet apart and washing our hands obsessively, we might find ourselves wondering: what comes next?
I do hope that this summer and next school year will be basically normal, but I don’t even know what normal means. We’ve been enduring virtual school and national and global crises, and on top of that, simple pleasures, like seeing friends and leaving your house, have been restricted or limited. Personally, it’s still jarring to see crowds or strangers getting really close in movies or Snapchat memories. My social skills have taken a hit, and I am stuck in a bit of a rut.
I think we’ve all changed in some way or gotten used to this way of life, and this adjustment period to post-pandemic life might be just as weird and hard as the last year was. Normal has a new meaning; the pandemic will influence the future and bring uncertain changes. My peers and I are also facing the stress of figuring out our next steps after graduation and making up for lost college memories. So, I’m taking it one step at a time; I’m throwing together a plan to transition to the next phase in my life and to our liberation from COVID:
1. Online Hangouts. First, I want to get reacquainted with friends I’ve lost touch with, generally strengthen friendships and meet new friends. I think hanging out and catching up virtually might make future hangouts more normal, comfortable and fun. It could even lead to making plans!
Asking to catch up one-on-one is low-stakes and casual. I always tell myself that people are probably just as stressed or doubtful of themselves, so reaching out could show you’re thinking of them and that they are valued! For hangouts with more effort or people, whether you use Zoom or Discord or anything else, I have some suggestions and inspiration for games and icebreakers!
Look up your favorite games to find online versions and find new ones!
Play Jackbox.tv, Skribbl.io, PlayingCards.io, Backyard.co, Taboo, Cards Against Humanity, Werewolf, Spyfall, Broken Picture Phone, Family Feud, Jeopardy, Google Feud, or JigsawPuzzles.io
Play Hot Seat, Never Have I Ever, or We’re Not Really Strangers
Do a scavenger hunt online or over time
Guess the heights or other aspects of friends you’ve met online
Share your screen and go shopping or swiping on Tinder together
Have sleep streams (online sleepover!) or study streams (use the Pomodoro Technique and play games or chat during breaks)
Have a presentation night, where you either choose a fun topic or make a surprise presentation for someone else to present
Create a rubric, watch movies, and rate them together
Go to a club meeting, event, or stream, even if it’s from another school! This can be practice in talking to new people and people in general again, as well as a bonding experience.
2. Make Plans. Simply making a bucket list is really exciting to me. It gets me to focus on the positives and possibilities and gives me hope that I can better my future. Draft your summer bucket list, and make sure to add all your goals, firsts and what you haven’t gotten to do, like first time dining out, first movie, first time meeting an online friend or first time hanging out on the Green again.
It could also be exciting to plan a safe trip, no matter how close. Just seeing what’s beyond your bubble could remind you about the bigger world and what you can do when it’s safe. You can plan these things online with your friends, too, and lead into it by asking to catch up. It will help you feel less awkward about reaching out to them later and make it more likely you’ll end up doing things together.
3. Meet Up Safely. Lastly, I would have to put all of these things together and actually meet up with friends to start making a dent in my bucket list. I want to push myself this summer to do as much as possible and test the limits of my comfort zone. Again, it’s likely that the person you want to reach out to would appreciate your text and would also like to check in with you!
I want to start out slowly and ensure my friends and I follow the CDC guidelines. I’m definitely excited that the vaccination timeline aligned with the transition to summer. I want to go on walks, picnics, and hikes, have photoshoots, do in-person scavenger hunts, visit cities, go to restaurants and bars, sing at the new karaoke place and go to a drive-in movie or project one myself! I will also be planning trips with my friends, and I think NYC, Philly, DC, North and South Carolina, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are great places to go within drivable distances. Visiting your friends at their colleges is always a great option too!
The end of the semester and summer is coming up quickly. I wish you the best of luck with this transition and the rest of your assignments! Try to take at least an hour for yourself a day, make your bucket list, and push yourself to have some fun!
COVID-19 Vaccine Info:
Every person in the United States 16+ is eligible for a vaccine, even if you don’t have insurance or are undocumented. Every state should have a COVID website, and this link has the CDC’s vaccine information. This link has information for University of Delaware students, both in- and out-of-state to sign up for vaccines.
Lastly, look on Twitter for vaccine bots, which alert you of the availability of vaccine appointments and give some pointers. Turn on the notifications to make sure you’re the first one there! One for New Jersey is @nj_vaccine, and look for one for your area!