By Natalie St. Denis
The COVID-19 pandemic caused society to reinvent basic activities such as socializing. The term social distancing has quickly become a part of society’s vocabulary over this long year.
Although distance has been implemented to stop the spread of the coronavirus, it has also inhibited social interaction— at least in ways people are so accustomed to.
Individuals have found new ways to stay connected with their loved ones. Zoom calls on birthdays, Facetime instead of traveling to see loved ones, and other forms of communication.
But what about meeting new people? For first year college students, making new friends is crucial to navigating through the uncharted waters that are associated with a brand new environment. The pandemic has made this process harder than it already is.
Freshman general and special childhood education major, Alexandria Gregory, is off-campus, remotely learning this semester.
“It’s hard to make that connection over screen time,” Gregory said. “So, it’s hard to make friends like that.”
Zoom has become second nature to this generation. Even though education has been adapted to fit on computer screens, some things just can’t work through a video call platform. Like forming a human connection.
It is still difficult to converse with others during in-person classes. Between masks and the desks being at least six-feet apart, students find themselves yelling to try and be heard. Some students were lucky enough to make a friend or two in class. But think ahead to the future when people can roam campus without a mask. Would you be able to even recognize a friend you made?
The mask serves as a shield against a deadly virus, but in turn, is shielding the identity of the person underneath.
Students have found it difficult to make friends the past two semesters because more classes are offered virtually. Gregory said she still remains connected with those friends through Facetime and texting. She misses getting together with bigger groups of people, but she is hopeful for the coming semesters.
“I hope I get to expand my friend group,” Gregory said. “I want to meet more people.”
Finding a friend group is important to the college experience. Some students, like freshman fitness and wellness major Nicole Svantner, are going far from their hometowns to study at SUNY Plattsburgh.
Svantner lives almost four hours away, so finding that friend group was important, especially because she isn’t on campus this semester.
Luckily, Svantner is on the tennis team, which helped her make some connections in the 12 practices they had before the season was cut short last semester.
“It definitely helped with making friends and a friend group because I am a freshman, going into college,” Svantner said. “It definitely helped with adjusting.”
Once the pandemic ends and the world goes back to normal, or as normal as possible, students will hopefully get that college experience of meeting so many new, different people that we grew up hearing about.
“I’m hoping that I get a normal college experience since I don’t really know what it’s like,” Svantner said. “I haven’t experienced it yet.”