It’s fair to say that no one could have predicted this tumultuous end to the academic year. Personally, I went from cramming the physiology of the kidney in Stopford library to desperately booking flights to return home before a lockdown.
As an international student, I’m used to virtually communicating with my university friends for long periods of time. My holidays usually consist of recording voice notes, endless spams on Snapchat and calling friends just to hear someone’s voice once in a while.
Yes, I did say calling.
For most of us who keep our phones in a perpetual state of do not disturb, this idea might horrify you. Even so, I can’t deny that I miss the constant chatter and conversation that comes with living with friends. It’s strange that I can’t just knock on someone’s door when I’m bored and need a chat.
Right now, we’re being deprived of a lot of social interaction. We’re having to make a big adjustment to online learning, social distancing and living life in the midst of a global pandemic and it’s all very overwhelming. Honestly? I need my friends now more than ever.
Skype, Zoom and WhatsApp are all free apps that are compatible with both Android and Apple devices and allow both voice and video calling. Even if you don’t feel like being social, I’ve found studying on a video call with friends actually keeps me more focused.
There are even more ways to be social while social distancing, here are a few of my favourites:
It’s a fun and free method (provided you already have a Netflix subscription) to recreating flat movie nights while respecting social distancing. The extension allows you to watch anything on Netflix simultaneously with your friends wherever they are.
There’s a chat window directly in the extension too, which is great if you love discussing what’s going on while watching a movie. Just be conscious that different countries have different titles available so make sure everyone has access to your chosen movie.
I’ve always loved drawing-based games, even though I can’t really draw. In my opinion, the worse the artist, the more enjoyable the game. There’s no greater equaliser than a laptop trackpad, it produces ungraceful drawings no matter what. In this online version game that’s similar to Pictionary, you can create your own private room for just you and your friends Even better, you can add your own custom words. No teams in this version though, it’s everyone for themselves.
I’ve only recently discovered this game and it’s quickly become my favourite to play on a video call. After creating a room, friends from all around the world can join using your code. From there the fun begins. Try the “Movie Buff” deck, where you create an imaginary plot line to a given real movie title and trick your friends into believing your version of the story.
My personal favourite is the “And the Truth Comes Out” deck. Using your usernames, the game generates scenarios such as “What are X and Y’s ship name” and everyone submits an anonymous answer for the group to vote on. When you figure out how to play the player, not the game; you get even more competitive.
As we adjust to virtual learning and social distancing, it’s understandable to feel frustrated and restless cooped up indoors. Suddenly your online presence feels that much more important and it’s hard waking up sometimes and feeling like the whole world has passed you overnight. Now more than ever, we need to look after ourselves and keeping in touch with friends is a good way to reduce the burden on our shoulders.