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5 Ways to Feel Normal as a College Freshman in a Pandemic

As I’m starting my freshman year in a pandemic, things are definitely different than I always fantasized about throughout high school. Instead of going to parties, my classmates and I are stuck inside, and my hopes of attending a lecture hall and meeting with professors have been stomped out by the virus known as COVID-19. While Zoom and online chat rooms are innovative replacements, I know this isn’t the freshman year anyone pictured. However, we might as well make the most of it. Here are some tips to make it a little easier!

Add People from Zoom

We’ve all done it. You see someone in your Zoom room and think: potential friend? Soulmate? Study buddy? During these unprecedented times, it should be normalized to add people on social media straight from Zoom. I won’t lie and say I haven’t seen someone with a cool profile picture and immediately stalked their socials. It’s weird to think that if we had in-person classes, getting someone's Snapchat would be as easy as sitting next to them in class and asking, but for obvious reasons that is not an option presently. Making friends from Zoom is a great alternative.  

Class Group Chats

When the world was “normal,” getting a missed note from class was as easy as whispering to the person next to you. Now things are a little more complicated. Luckily, the internet prevails in providing students with ways to communicate with one another. Class group chats are a great way to get help with school work and make friends, and Discord and GroupMe are fantastic apps for making an accessible group chat for large amounts of people. Although we’re only a couple weeks into the semester, study groups and resources have already been provided by my classmates through these apps. 

Make a Social Bubble

While social distancing and taking the coronavirus seriously are very important, it’s nearly impossible to not hang out with people. Luckily, at Pitt, they provided us with pods which are small groups of people on our floor with whom we can forego masks and social distancing. These small groups are extremely helpful for making friends and feeling safe. Not everyone lives in a residence hall, so this “bubble” can consist of suitemates, roommates or housemates. Or, if you live alone, you can get together with other people that have agreed to avoid unsafe contact with anyone outside of the bubble. I think this is one of the best ways to make college feel a little more normal. 

Go Outside/Exercise

Current information about the coronavirus claims that going outside and being in open spaces reduces transmission of the virus, which is all the more reason to go outside! It’s great to go out and get some fresh air and exercise. Schenley Park is a great place to go for a run or a stroll. I feel lucky to have such great green spaces and a city just a block away. However, getting your heart rate up doesn’t have to require a trek; just going on a walk to the library or finding different outdoor study spaces is a great way to break up your day so you don’t get bored with the same routine. For those of you looking for more than just a stroll, fitness and recreation centers are opening up around campus. It’s as easy as reserving a time slot and wearing a mask to hit the gym!

Explore the City

Despite the coronavirus, many places are reopening to the public with regulations. There are so many fun places to explore throughout the city that are just a bus ride or a short walk away. It’s so nice to reward yourself after a long week of school with a trip down to a local museum with your pod or roommates. I’ve gone to the Andy Warhol Museum and the Carnegie Art Museum, and they were both amazing! And, even better, they were free with a Pitt ID. However, this isn’t just exclusive to Pitt students. No matter where your university is, there is likely a list of museums and the like that you can get into at a discounted price or for free.

I know that these times are strange, but the above are just a few ways to break up your day and make this year feel a little more “normal." I recommend trying them out because they’ve made me feel better and are a good way to meet new people! Above all else, remember to wear your mask and prioritize your mental health during these stressful times.

Hi, I'm Claire! I'm a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh and a pre-pharmacy major. I love reading, singing, and animals. In my free time, I'll be cuddling with my cat watching TikToks.
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