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Bringing It Home – The Saint Rose Blog

Use Virtual Tools to Make Real Connections

Photo by Adam Solomon on Unsplash

COVID-19 has given us a “new normal” – minus the restaurants, theaters, sports events, and gatherings so many of us had taken for granted. We’re practicing social distancing to limit the spread of the virus and keep ourselves as safe as possible. But it’s all too easy to feel isolated.

More than ever, it’s important to find ways to stay connected and support each other. We reached out (remotely!) to Saint Rose graduate students Mackenzie Carroll G’21 and Carolyn Campagna G’21 to talk about ways to stay connected and help each other through our shared experience. Here’s our collective wisdom.


Group FaceTime or Zoom sessions

Mackenzie Carroll G’21 has been using FaceTime to connect with her niece and nephew when she can. She says she also has a pretty active group chat going with her in-laws.

While you may not be able to see your loved ones in person, video chatting with them is the next best thing! It is free to create a Zoom account, and each meeting of up to 40 minutes can host up to 100 participants. You can schedule consecutive sessions for longer get-togethers. This is a great way to catch up with the whole extended family.


Community Facebook groups

Many local communities have Facebook groups dedicated to everything happening in the area. These groups can be a great way to stay up to date on what local restaurants are offering delivery services, and which small businesses are holding specials. Connecting with neighbors and members of your community can make you feel less isolated. You can also find good ways to volunteer and help others (e.g., food banks) or share interests (crafting groups, homeschooling groups, and so forth).


Zoom study sessions with classmates 

Just because the libraries are closed, doesn’t mean study sessions have to stop. Carolyn Campagna G’21 has been spending some of her down time zooming with classmates and working on homework assignments together.

Even though classes have been moved online for the rest of the semester, we still have weeks left of being graduate students. Classmates who can relate to exactly what you are going through may bring a sense of comfort and normalcy during this hectic time.


Virtual book or movie clubs

Now might be a perfect time to catch up on a good book. Many people now have the opportunity to sit down and escape their realities for a few hours within the pages of a novel. If you are interested in sharing your thoughts and feelings about your favorite book, there are many online communities that host book clubs. This can be a great way to communicate with others who have similar interests as you. If you don’t have the attention span for a book, what about a film-screening club?


Any excuse to get together!

Take a cue from the folks out there who are getting more and more creative with their gatherings. Use Zoom or other online tools to host a virtual birthday party for a friend, meet for coffee, challenge friends to a trivia session or 20 Questions (Pictionary, anyone?). Connect with old bandmates, or invite some new ones, to jam together. Schedule a craft-along session, demonstrate a favorite recipe to a pal, or belt out karaoke tunes to each other.


Online workouts

Finding the motivation to work out at home can become boring and lonely after a while. But many fitness studios have begun to livestream free workout classes. This could be a great time to try out the yoga class you’ve been meaning to attend or get your energy out in a Zumba class.


Virtual tours of museums

Even though many museums around the world have had to temporarily shut their doors, technology has allowed us to still view the beautiful art. Places such as MoMA, The Louvre, The National Gallery of Art, and The Vatican Museum offer virtual tours of their exhibits. This gives people the opportunity to experience the culture and wonders of the world from the comfort of their own home.


The Phil

If you’re looking for some soothing classical music or the sweet sounds of a symphony, look no further than the New York Philharmonic. They are offering a program called NY Phil Plays On, which allows individuals to stream a variety of the group’s performances online.


Old-school ways to connect

Most of us tend to think of online ways to get together, but don’t overlook the old-fashioned methods that people used to stay in touch. Write a long, heartfelt email describing your latest projects and news to an old friend. Pick up the phone and call a relative you haven’t talked to in a while. And don’t forget that the intrepid mail carriers are still out there doing their job (thank you, USPS!) — so maybe sit down and write an old-fashioned letter to someone special.


By Sarah Uzzi G’21

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