A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
“Hi, how are you doing?”
It’s a simple sentence, but it’s more important than ever. Nearly two months ago, the University had to close down and life as we knew it changed completely. We no longer see our friends on a daily basis, instead, it can be an actual effort to stay in contact.
Most of my friends are international students, and nearly all of them had to leave Leiden when University closed. I returned to my home country as well, and while it’s great to be closer to my family, I obviously miss seeing my friends.
We’ve experimented quite a bit with different methods of staying in contact; this is a collection of the things we’ve learnt:
I personally really like lists and plans, so maybe that’s a bit of a me-thing, but it is really helpful to plan your virtual socializing in advance. Like this, it gets a lot easier to meet in (bigger) groups and you can make the most out of your day. In fact, make it as specific as possible: “Let’s have a Netflix Party, tomorrow at 9pm” is much more likely to work out than “Let’s skype sometime this weekend”. Also, you’ll have something to look forward to while studying (if studying is still a thing for you)!
You can also make it a weekly thing – like having a scary movie night every Friday!
We love skyping, but it’s good to mix it up a little. Here are some things you can try – and combining them is also great!
Movies: This might be obvious, but it’s hard to beat a good movie night. Netflix Party allows you to sync a movie and chat at the same time. If texting is too impersonal for you, you can have a Skype or WhatsApp call at the same time (best do that over your phone then). It’s a lot of fun to watch your friends react to funny or scary movie scenes. Plus, no one will steal your favourite snacks!
Play a Game: When was the last time that you played a game with your friends? There are countless websites and apps – free of course – on which you can play all sorts of games. How about channelling your inner Picasso with a round of Pictionary? The games are a lot of fun on their own, however, I do recommend skyping at the same time.
Social Media: This one is more for the quantity and less for the quality in my opinion. In addition to everything else, it’s a nice gesture to tag your friends in funny pictures or nominate them for strange internet challenges. It shows them that you’re thinking of them (and that you want them to put on a shirt while doing a handstand).
Skype: Usually I love to catch up with my friends like this, but recently we all felt like we had little to report. If you experience the same, then I recommend skyping with a special purpose. You could try working out together or have a study session where everyone works on their thesis for an hour.
Good old-fashioned phone calls: Video calls are a true blessing, but depend on your internet connection. For me, that means I can’t go far from the router and if my sister streams a movie, I’ll understand only every second word you’re saying. Thankfully, that’s not an issue with normal phone calls. Our generation has predominantly moved from calling to texting, but it’s absolutely worth reviving!
Together but Separate:
You don’t have to skype to do things together. For example, you can all agree to run 10 kilometres within the week, and share your progress via running apps! Like this, you keep a flexible schedule and still get the motivation you need (isn’t peer pressure a blessing?). If running isn’t your thing, how about starting a book club and agreeing to read 5 chapters until your next skype call? My friends and I started a book club three weeks ago, and it’s a lot of fun! Stay posted to find out more about book clubs in my next blog 🙂
Do you have any advice? How do you socialize in times of corona? Let me know in the comments!