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Staying Connected in Isolation

At this point, the days have blended into one another and I’m not sure how long I’ve been in quarantine. Participating in classes and performing research remotely is still a huge adjustment for us, and if anything has kept us sane it is definitely staying connected with our friends and family (closely followed by carbohydrates!). Given that these can be challenging and lonely times for many people (especially those of you who live alone), here are some things that have helped us socialize in isolation: 

Game Night 

Phuong: As soon as the shelter in place mandate was announced, I went online and bought Jackbox Games. These games are available on a wide variety of digital platforms and all you need to be able to play is a phone! What I usually do is share my screen with friends over Zoom, grab some chai tea, and prepare for a night of laughing (and yelling)! There are a wide variety of games provided on this platform, and they are hilarious. There’s trivia. There are crime mysteries. There’s Pictionary-esque challenges. There’s snitching involved. I’ve played these games several times with various people, and even celebrated a birthday playing Jackbox with friends. There are a lot of sales on Jackbox Games right now on the website, so check it out if you’re looking for a fun game night!

This is probably the zenith of my Jackbox gaming career...

Ayumi: Phuong and I love to play Jackbox! But if it’s not your thing, there are a lot of other games you can play with friends. From Jeopardy to Monster Hunter to charades. I recently joined a Dungeons & Dragons group over videochat. We meet once a week, drink a few beers, and go on ridiculous adventures. I’m pretty sure our DM (who is a seasoned DnD player) hates us, but it’s a fun way to pass the time.

Friends That Binge Together... 

Phuong: This is the perfect time to start a show with friends and family. Shows are always better to watch if you have someone else to laugh and cry with right? There is a Google Chrome extension called Netflix Party that allows you to host a room and invite multiple friends to join your Netflix binges. It is a chat-room format and allows multiple people to log on and watch shows simultaneously. No more stress syncing your screens!

Ayumi: If you don’t have Netflix or chrome, worry not! I have been doing movie nights (or mornings) with my best friends in Arizona since August. Back in my day (pre-Netflix Party) we would count to 3 over videochat and hit play all at once. Just make sure to decide if you’re pushing play on 3 or after 3… We have a tradition of watching terrible movies so that we can chat with each other while vaguely paying attention. I would recommend Velocipastor if you like awful movies.

Study Conferences 

Phuong: Do you get easily distracted like I do and require someone to keep you accountable? I tried study conferences with a friend last week and found that it worked pretty well for me! It’s literally what it sounds like--I connect with a friend on Zoom or Skype and we would work on our respective assignments together in silence. Occasionally, there’d be a joke or a comment about how much we wish we could go out and eat ice cream, but for the most part we kept each other accountable. I’ve only tried this once before, but am definitely planning to do it again.   

Taking a statistics class from OpenCourseWare with Ayumi...I promise we got things done ;)

Ayumi: As Phuong wrote above, we are taking a statistics class on OpenCourseWare together! If you and a study buddy are looking for a way to use this time productively (but don't want to sign up for a graded class) look into MIT OpenCourseWare or other free, online learning tools. You can take foreign language courses, computer science classes, statistics, and more. This platform provides lectures you can follow along with, and the option to do homework. Another option is using your access to public libraries. Many libraries offer free classes online. This is a fantastic way to learn something new, without the pressure of being graded. Watching lectures with a buddy via zoom can keep you motivated and on track to finish the course!

Gratitude Posts 

Phuong: I have found that a bit of positivity everyday can make such a difference! I message my friends every day with something I’m grateful for. Even the small things matter.

Virtual Lunch Dates 

Phuong: Something I miss about my everyday routine before the pandemic is eating lunch with a group of friends. Lunch is my favorite time of the day because I get to take a break from research/classes eat food while listening to stories about daily gossip, the pains of research, the joys of research, and to catch up on tv shows. To preserve this sacred time, my friends and I have scheduled weekly video lunches. I have found that scheduled lunches also help break up my day because, man, has working from home has really messed up my schedule!

Joint Cooking Projects 

Phuong: So I haven’t actually tried this before, but I heard about it from Ayumi, and I think it sounds like such a fun idea! I don’t know about you, but I think that with all the cooking and new recipes I’ve been trying out, I’m ready to make an appearance on the Food Network after this pandemic is over. I always love cooking with friends, so why not do it over a video call? 

Workout with Friends

Ayumi: I am in a workout videochat. Each week, one of us plans an hour-long, at-home workout and teaches the class as the 'instructor'. Last week, my friend taught a ballet session. This week I’ll be leading a HIIT workout. This has been a fun way to stay connected. Plus, workouts release endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people DON’T have social gatherings that spread coronavirus.

Long Walks on the Beach… or Wherever You Live

Ayumi: I have been going on solitary walks and runs by the lake near my apartment. I go every day, just to get some fresh air. Don’t worry, you are allowed to walk around your neighborhood during the shelter-in-place order! Just keep practicing social distancing. When I’m on a walk, I’ll call my mom or a friend to talk. It is an easy way to keep in touch with loved ones.

How are you staying connected? Leave a comment!

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