Staying Connected Virtually


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Social connection is now more important than ever. But how do we stay connected with friends and family in the current lockdown?

Whether you are living in University accommodation, temporary accommodation, your flat or home in Bath or your family home, there are many ways to stay connected with friends, family, the university community and even make some new friends. 

We have created a list of some of our favourite ways to connect in these difficult times. While not all of these will work for everyone, we recommend giving some a try!

1. Set up some regular calls outside your uni ‘bubble’

It is very important to ensure you are connecting with the wider world. You may be friends with flatmates and talk daily - or have a good friend on your course who you chat to during lectures - but if these are the only people you talk to, you might start to feel isolated.

Some Ideas

Set a time for a weekly video call with your family or friends to check in with how they are doing and if you have them how your pets are doing. Set up calls/events between scheduled lectures to catch up with friends so you can see them socially.

 

2. Attend a virtual event

The SU are running a series of events as part of the Get Connected week to give you a space to do something a bit different. Throughout February the SU is also running events as a part of LGBTQ+ History Month which you can get involved with.

You can find the events programme here.

3. Have a group study session

Setting up a regular study group can give you a dedicated space to get work done. Whether you need a study partner to go over the theory from your last seminar, or you want some mellow company while you work, a study group can provide you with some great peer-to-peer support. It’s always reassuring to know you’re not the only one doing degree work - especially if you’re logging in from a home environment in lockdown.

4. Try a cookery lesson

Everyone has their own secret ingredient to make their bolognese the best or a special technique to make their beans on toast something spectacular. Why not pick a recipe and do a cook along whilst on a video call? You can even get creative and see what hacks you have for cupboard stables (think how fancy you can make those instant noodles!). Swap recipes with each other, eat together, or even try a cooking competition with the same ingredients.

5. Sign up to the Buddy Scheme

Making new friends this year is definitely more difficult than usual, but it’s not impossible. The SU has created the Buddy scheme where you can sign up with your interests and be matched with someone new. To be set up with a buddy, sign up here. Worried about what you will talk about, or how to break the ice? Our next tip has got you covered.

6. Make a game of conversation starters.

If you Google ‘conversation starters’ you will find hundreds of websites like this one with long lists of potential conversation starters. These lists can be dauntingly long. How do you pick which topic to start with? Let a random number generator pick for you. This takes away the pressure of decision making and will make meeting a new person easy or you may find out new things about an old friend.

7. Remember there are more than video calls

Many of us thought that video calls would be left behind in 2020, and it can be hard to still feel energised on call now that we’re all over the novelty of Zoom quizzes and video parties. You can still hang out with friends online even if you’re not willing to turn on the camera, or even talk, thanks to online games. It’s easy to underestimate the comfort of meeting up with someone in a virtual space, but if you have access to multiplayer games like Animal Crossing, Minecraft or Stardew Valley, it can make a world of difference to spend a few hours with your friend’s avatar.  If those aren’t your sort of thing, there’s company to be had in any online game - we just can’t promise it will be quite as mellow meeting up in Call of Duty

8. Remember that the internet can be a beautiful place

It’s all too tempting to avoid the internet in difficult times - especially it feels like scary headlines, statistics and images are lurking around every digital corner. However, there can be some beauty among all the information. We recommend trying out a virtual museum tour (from places like Tate Britain and The British Museum), walking through the streets of Paris or Rome, or watching a live-streamed wildlife cam (or ten). No entry fees and no crowds? It’s (almost) better than the real thing. 

You can see the full list of digital activities your Vice President Welfare & Community has put together here

9. Stay connected on social media

Follow what the SU is doing on their social media channels and on the Facebook group Bath Spa SU Social Space. Don’t underestimate the usefulness of a course group chat. It can be a great way to see how people are doing, set up social get togethers, share study tips, and even share pet pictures.

10. Be Honest

If you are struggling with loneliness or other negative feelings it is important to open up to friends and family. It is much better for your mental health to share how you are really feeling rather than saying ‘I’m fine’ when you really aren’t. 

Your friends may be feeling the same way and be more comfortable sharing how they are doing if you are honest about your feelings. It’s also nice for you both to know that you’re not the only one feeling this way.

It’s important to remember that the University Student Wellbeing Services are available to support you if you are struggling. You also have access to a variety of digital platforms and 24/7 support services through the university. You can find a complete list here.