Owing to the pandemic, the current semester - be it online or on-campus with strict social distancing norms in place - is bound to look different from the past years for students worldwide. The new normal has compelled us to adapt and change the way we do everything, such as studying, working, exercising, shopping, traveling, and, most importantly, how we socialize.
As social beings, our craving for interaction is deep-rooted. Besides the virus, staying disconnected and isolated from friends and loved ones is a significant cause of anxiety. Hence, socialising is essential to maintain our mental and emotional well being. But what could be the safest way to socialise during a pandemic?
Do not fret; we are here to answer and break it down for you.
But before you do anything else, ingrain these rules in your mind.
stay 6 feet apart at all times
disinfect items/equipment before sharing
and avoid sharing food, drinks, or utensils.
Online clubs to the rescue
Contrary to popular opinion, you do not need to actually step out to socialise. Look out for online clubs that interest you, or better yet, start one yourself and rope in your friends. A plethora of activities like online games, movie watch parties, fitness sessions, arts and crafts, etc., can be organised. Virtual clubs provide an excellent opportunity to meet like-minded individuals, and productively utilize your free time. Who knows? You can forge strong friendships and also get a chance to meet them in-person once you set foot on campus.
Reconnect with friends
To curb the spread of the virus, we all have spent months being physically distant from our friends. While technology has been our saviour and kept us connected with our loved ones through screens, nothing can absolutely replicate face-to-face conversations. But let's not wallow in loneliness. By staying informed and religiously following all safety protocols, you can step out in the fresh air and soak up some much-needed Vitamin D. Form a small social pod of no more than 5 friends to spend quality time with. Opt for outdoor picnics, walks around campus, hiking trips, or yoga sessions for a limited time.
Find a Penpal
Feeling too trapped by virtual screens? Why not revert to bygone days and rediscover the lost art of letter writing? Partner up with a prospective classmate, an old friend, or a resident from a local nursing home to exchange letters. Penning down your thoughts on paper can work wonders for your mental health. This can foster human connections and bring positivity in such grave times.
Group study sessions
What's better than studying alone? Studying with your buddies, of course! Be it online over video apps or in-person at outdoor parks. Group study sessions have proved to be beneficial in creating an apt environment that helps one focus better. You can get to interact and quiz each other, making studies more fun.
Who says you cannot do some social good without leaving your homes? There is no time like now to make the most of digital platforms to drive a change. You can volunteer virtually by joining a global initiative and participating in research projects, translation work, outreach, and advocacy programs, teaching online, etc. You can also partner up with non-profit groups in your area to raise funds for various drives like delivering meals and essentials to the homeless.
The loss of a carefree lifestyle has got us all mourning. But it is imperative to understand that socialising should not come at the cost of your safety. Limiting social contact, even if it is hard, is the right way to deal with the current situation and not putting public health at risk. Start off by assessing the situation in your local area, your own vulnerability to the virus as well as the risk involved in engaging in any social activity before stepping out. Wearing a mask at all times, carrying wet wipes and sanitizers on your person should become a habit by now. And while we wait for the world to heal again, we hope our suggested ideas will help put a new spin on socializing and still keep you connected with your friends and the world around you. Till then, happy and safe socialising folks!