Some of the fondest memories I have of being at Rutgers are not necessarily associated with the place but the people. Some of these memories include sitting in the comforting early morning quiet of Busch Dining Hall with a roommate or gathering around the greasy glory of Brower Commons takeout in study lounges with stressed friends for late-night cram sessions.
While many of these sensory, human experiences can’t necessarily be replicated in the virtual world we live in, it’s worth trying to revive your social life in creative ways over Zoom.
Silent Study Session
This subtitle may not sound incredibly exciting, given the adjective “silent,” but studying with your cameras on can be socially and academically rewarding. Grab your books and a beverage of your choice, and go about your day of coursework while having your study buddy do the same from a safe distance.
Having a friend around can hold you accountable and even alleviate feelings of being overwhelmed or burned out, especially at this point in the semester.
I recently had a productive session with a friend who happened to be in a different time zone, 9 hours behind mine. We put on some calming Ratatouille Ambient Music, and I read a chapter from my political science textbook and wrote some emails, while she wrote some code for a class assignment. Taking occasional breaks to check in with each other, we both found the familiar experience of studying in each other’s company enjoyable.
Game or Movie Night
A more common form of Zoom partying is a classic game or movie night. Whether you’re playing Jackbox games, Pictionary, Animal Crossing or Among Us, having a lively conversation going on as you play likens your virtual game night to a thrilling real one.
Encouraging everyone to keep their cameras on is valuable as you can watch each others’ reactions in real-time and avoid staring into the awkward void of black boxes we are forced to stare into far too often.
The same can apply to watching films together. The Chrome extension Teleparty is particularly great for movie nights, but sharing your screen over Zoom can enrich the quality of your conversation as you aren't reduced to icons in a chat.
Thanksgiving is going to be particularly different this year, and Rutgers students won’t have the opportunity to gather around a round table at Brower Commons and dig into a plethora of pumpkin-related desserts.
Accepting and adapting to the difficulties of the world we live in, virtual iterations of Friendsgiving can help you keep your families safe and celebrate an occasion responsibly. Incorporate your Thanksgiving with a movie or game night, or just check in with your friends close to the end of an intense semester.
Additionally, doing an informal PowerPoint presentation night, a trend which has taken off on TikTok, on zany and niche topics is an interesting approach to interacting with friends and even family members.
Unlike the beginning of the pandemic, when my friends and I were proactive at weekly Zooms, pandemic fatigue has set in, and our conversations have become less frequent. Social distancing can be exhausting and impair our ability to enjoy the little things, but it is very necessary.
But, I am a true believer in quality over quantity, so I scheduled a Thanksgiving virtual brunch to try and reimagine the fondest memories I have of Rutgers in an online setting, with friends I love.