Survival Guide: How to enjoy college while living through a pandemic

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Let’s be real.

This year has been tough. College is supposed to be your ‘glory days’ right? Well, the COVID-19 pandemic did not agree. But what COVID didn’t know is how much we college students learned throughout this year. While it may not have been through classes, the COVID-19 pandemic taught us how to do many, many things.

Survival Guide.

So, let's get to the point of this blog post. Surviving and enjoying college during a pandemic. While it is not an easy task, there are always good things ahead. And that's the motto that helped me through this difficult, unruly time.

Even though it is easy to get trapped in the constant “what is life”, “what is a mask?” mindset many of us have come too well to know these past months, it is important to keep looking forward and find joy in the little things.

I am very lucky in the fact that my friends at college are like family, but I understand that it is hard to keep connections and genuine relationships when they become mainly through the little box we call our phones. Not going to classes, staring at the screen all day, while lacking the one thing humans need the most:

  • Connection

Human connection is extremely important and during COVID-19 that felt like it was ripped away from us, similarly to how our plans for the future took a turn as well. Although COVID-19 was a year filled with heartbreak, misery, and loneliness, it helped many understand themselves much better.

Learning about ourselves is something that some people put off, this could be for many reasons. Sometimes people are afraid, feel that they don’t have time, or feel that they already know all parts of themselves. Yet, we all change and changed through this unruly time in some aspects. While experiencing something where we feel so alone, we all went through it together. Which is something that does not typically happen worldwide.

Social Media platforms grew tremendous amounts during the pandemic as it was our way of staying connected. Whether it was learning and being an ally to the Black Lives Matter Movement, or learning new TikTok dances to stay connected to friends, social media, in a sense, held us together.

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TikTok.

We can be honest in saying that the TikTok takeover hit at the right time. And even though we may have been separated physically, social media allowed people from all over the world to connect. Teaching, talking, and tagging with others through the short videos that can, if your lucky, go viral overnight. Although this was not the most nourishing entertainment, it still helped dim the boredom of quarantine and create activities to do around the house. While there are many sides of Tik Tok, it allowed us to expand our horizons on many topics. It also allowed us to see how others thought, whether it was relatable or not. This allowed its users to grow and understand our own values and beliefs.

Instagram.

Personally, Instagram is where I learned the most about social activism during the pandemic. As we had a lot of time to focus on recurring problems and injustices in the world, I found many accounts that educated me on how to be an ally to minorities. This helped me feel more connected to those around me even though we were physically apart. It led to important and necessary conversations among my friends, family, and peers, where we all had the chance to learn from each other and those experiences.

Zoom.

Although Zoom is not considered a social media platform, I feel as though it is an essential part of the ‘survival guide’. Zoom was something I had never used before, yet, this app allowed the world to continue our somewhat ‘normal’ lives. While having online classes was something we all had to get used to, it gave us the skills and techniques to adapt to our new lives. This allowed us to stay connected to each other in the most realistic way. Even though we were staring at each other through a screen, at least we could still see and understand each other's behaviors.

So, how do we enjoy these things?

Enjoying college in a way we never have before was something all of us had to get used to. Finding time to physically be together in a safe manner is difficult, especially when everyone wants to be together all at once. What I did during this was finding an open space outside, bringing a chair, wearing a mask and having conversations, and spending time together from 6 ft apart. You would be surprised to hear about the fun times we could have while following the COVID-19 guidelines. Finding joy in little things is something that is essential to mental health during the pandemic. While it may be very different from what we used to know, adapting to our new lives is something that can’t be put on hold. I encourage everyone who is reading this to find something that interests you or something you love doing and find a way to do whatever it may be in a safe way with family and friends. Also, remember to always take care of yourself and those you love. COVID-19 brought a lot of heartbreaking experiences for people worldwide, so smiling a little bigger or asking the barista at the coffee shop how their day has been, may help more than you think. After all, it's the little things that can bring the most joy.

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