Confessions of a Lonely College Student

When I decided to transfer to Rutgers, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had high hopes for the Spring semester; get a roommate who will turn out to be my new best friend, join lots of clubs, go to basketball games, and spend a summer in Paris through the study abroad programs. As you probably have already guessed, my experience was nothing of the sort. When we were forced to evacuate campus and told we were not allowed to go back for the rest of the semester, I missed out on a lot of the social aspects of college. I was just beginning to become more comfortable with the campus and the people I had classes with. It was a big deal to me if I walked back to my building with the girl in my French class, or if I sat on the bus with the girl from my history class. I was just starting to make these connections and they were all completely ruined by the pandemic. 

One of the hardest things for those who are not sick, unemployed, or mourning a loss in the pandemic is enduring isolation. Virtual relationships do not even come close in comparison to developing a friendship in person through a series of connections like getting coffee together or going to the dining hall. In this time of darkness and uncertainty, mental health is extremely important, once physical precautions are taken. 

One of the best things to do during this time is to help others, even if it is just your family members. I got through a lot of the pandemic by remembering how fortunate I am to have a house, a job, and school during this time. I found comfort in walking my dog, cooking meals for my family, and doing grocery shopping for my grandparents. In any way I could, I donated money to help those in need and donated some masks that I was able to get to retirement communities. Helping others gives us an outlet to help ourselves; in this time it is important to come together in any way and support each other. 

In addition to helping others out in any way possible, I found comfort in taking my own health into my hands. I took more time to eat healthier, drink more water, and exercise more regularly during the quarantine period. Balance is important in wellness; I learned that you need to find a diet and lifestyle that you are happy with. I used to force myself to run and eat mostly proteins and vegetables. I learned that I enjoyed doing yoga more and taking long walks—even in the freezing cold! My new daily getaway is taking a long walk through my neighborhood while listening to my favorite true-crime podcast, Crime Junkie.

Take advantage of the connections you can make while enrolled in a virtual school, even though it does not seem like there is much you can do. I am more than grateful for my French teacher (who from the beginning of the semester) forced us to work with other students in the class. From this experience, I have been able to branch out more and at least work with other students, who will be in future classes with me. I also go to every Her Campus meeting and tutor, which are all great ways to talk to people other than family members. Most importantly, any in-person connections you can make—even if it is with a barista at your local Starbucks—should be made. At this point, the people at Target and Starbucks know me from my daily coffee outings and weekly Target run for supplies. If you are not able to leave the house even for a quick coffee run or grocery run, start a book club with your close family or friends, or even have a virtual craft night. I recently did a paint and sip with some old friends on Zoom, and do Zoom movie nights once a week! 

At this time, it is of utmost importance to try and remain calm. These methods have helped me to stay sane while in isolation, and prepare for the next four to six months of it. No matter what happens, at some point, this pandemic will be over and life will return as it once was.