We are once again at the start of another semester at The New School. Usually, this is a time equal parts stressful, exciting and fun. However, this year is anything but usual. We’re weighed down by thick syllabuses and endless projects without the added bonus of getting to see friends after a long winter break. How can we keep in touch while staying socially distant? We get creative, of course! The magic of Zoom, Netflix and the US Postal Service make it easier than ever before to maintain your friendships (and your mental health) whether you’re six feet, six blocks or six hours away.
- Have a Virtual Movie Night!
Find a movie, old or new, that everyone wants to see and set aside a night to watch it together. As long as everyone has a Netflix account, Netflix Party lets its users watch a movie synchronously and communicate using a chat box. Want to see your friends as you watch the movie? Try Scener, a Chrome extension that allows you to watch a movie with friends on your favorite platform with the added bonus of a video chat function. Pop some popcorn, dim the lights, choose your favorite comfy chair, and you’ll forget that you and your friends are miles apart.
- Try a Game Night!
If you’re tired of playing Among Us, Jackbox offers a selection of virtual games at varying prices. If you’re willing to do a little extra work, create a Kahoot and host a trivia night. Not really in the competitive spirit? Do a PowerPoint night instead. Have everyone create a PowerPoint on an obscure subject and present them to each other.
- Send Something in the Mail!
Feel like you’re spending too much time on Zoom? Send letters and care packages by snail mail. Decorate your envelopes and seal them with wax for some Jane-Austen-style flair. If you’re feeling extra creative, take an old journal and decorate it with collages, pictures, poems, stickers or anything else you want. Then mail it to your friends and have them each decorate their own section. By the time you finally meet in person again, you’ll have a creative account of your time apart.
- Host a Table Read!
Are your friends the creative type? Have a table read over Zoom! Choose your favorite screenplay or stage play, assign roles and have fun! It can be as elaborate or as low-key as you want. You can add costumes, makeup, sound cues, utilize virtual backgrounds and maybe even some special effects! Find your favorite movies on simplyscripts.com, or brush up your Shakespeare with the complete works on shakespeare.mit.edu.
- Make Food Together!
If you and your friends are looking to sharpen your culinary skills, have a virtual dinner party! Find a recipe online for everyone to follow and create one giant video call for everyone to prepare their food at the same time. If everyone is somewhat low on supplies, websites like myfridgefood.com will find recipes for what you already have in your pantry. If you’re more in the mood for sweet than savory, make some baked goods, from the box or from scratch. Bon appétit!
This pandemic is stressful and upsetting. However, as long as we maintain our most important relationships, we don't have to do it alone.