This year has been an unsettling time for many members of our community, and that is why I am here to stress the importance of staying connected with friends and students while being remote. There are many ways to stay connected from home; stay tuned for a Q & A from me and my good friend and University of Massachusetts Amherst student, Shruti Nanda.
How are you staying connected with friends and students at UMass?
Shruti: We are all so fortunate to have facetime and Zoom during these times, that is definitely my primary mode of communication with friends and classmates. But of course, once in a while I do see friends in person, practicing social distancing of course!
Avani: One of the great things about UMass Amherst is how many people go there, and especially from Massachusetts. In my case, some of my high school friends are also at UMass! Since we are all in our hometowns now, we have been staying connected even far away from campus. My friends that are home and I have stayed connected, and found that we are a great backbone to rely on to help each other through this difficult time. Even being so far from the campus our memories don’t go away. When we meet, we recall our runs to cafes around the Amherst area, doing homework outside the benches of Northeast Residence, and major procrastination at the UMass library’s procrastination station. We also have been creating new memories getting takeout from our favorite hometown pizza place, which sells a delicious tortellini pizza! Having such a close network of friends to rely on not only keeps me connected, but motivated during this time. As a transfer to UMass Amherst, I met so many people in the last two semesters — but my time was cut short when we came home at the start of the pandemic. However, I have done my best to keep in touch with those friends I met through social media and other platforms. This helps to maintain a sense of community that is waiting for us upon our return.
Are you active in clubs and organizations taking place remotely?
Shruti: Staying involved in clubs and organizations is so important, especially during these times. Although you can only do limited activities, I am part of the Indian Classical Society dance team here at UMass, and COVID has not stopped us! We have been doing virtual showcases for other schools and having zoom practices. Dancing has definitely kept my fitness and mental health in check this semester!
Avani: Virtual events that UMass hosts, as well as those of organizations, are a way to stay connected and even meet new faces. There are so many varieties in these from movie nights to game nights. It can be intimidating to join such events and make time, but joining one call could create a solid network of connections. I have struggled with attending virtual events as I have been adjusting with time to this new format of learning. However, I hope to start getting involved again next semester and encourage you to do so too!
What kinds of activities have you done during the remote semester to stay connected?
Shruti: Staying in the same clubs/teams I was a part of during in-person classes, cooking and baking with friends, and facetime/zoom calls!
Avani: This has been a time of rekindling connections with so many people. Many of the activities I have partaken in this semester have been through zoom such as birthday zoom sessions! It is very untraditional but goes to show how close we can be even being so far. On warmer days we all mask up and go hiking, have picnics, paint, and cook together.