As the fall semester nears its end, students are busy studying for exams, preparing for an unorthodox holiday season and trying to keep the stress away. This winter will be different, though, because of the isolation made necessary by Covid-19. For many, jobs as well as their classes have proceeded online - but, for the five-week space between semesters, staying in touch with peers and keeping up with the community will require some novelty.
Among many reasons to be thankful and excited during the holidays is the ease with which today's technology can help keep people together. The pandemic has meant the popularizing of group video conferencing with programs like Zoom, Google Hangouts Meet and so on throughout 2020, and without a doubt, friends and family will use them to gather in celebration and reunion throughout the break. It's also easy to play interactive games together, even for those more casual gamers out there, like "Among Us" or Jackbox games, which require only a smart phone; or to simulate getting together for a movie with Netflix Party or Google Chrome's Teleparty extension, which connect viewers across streaming services.
Students can stay connected with friends with more tangible activities, too. File sharing programs and sites let users create collaborative art projects with groups, like photo albums, stories or videos. Music streaming services like Spotify allow users to share the playlists they create, or curate them with friends, so they can feel connected by what they're listening to throughout the day. Other sites let users recommend books, movies and music and exchange ideas about them. Or, if they're more old-school, friends can try starting book clubs or, perfect for the time of year, trading recipes.
Getting more creative, some students may enjoy using exercise tracking apps and devices to share goals with friends, keeping each other on track while staying connected. Others might use a slew of online resources to learn a new hobby or skill together, like programming, dancing or playing an instrument. Many during months of social distancing have used video calls to virtually "have dinner" or the like with far away friends.
Staying on top of current events and the community also involves what's happening around the university when students are away. Students can follow Kean on Instagram (@keanuniversity), Twitter (@KeanUniversity), Facebook and so on to see what's happening, upcoming events and get useful information about the break and the spring semester. Further, winter session classes will be ongoing and, although they will be held remotely, students and faculty will be active in the community digitally.
Kean makes every effort to actively bring students together. Students spent much of the fall semester attending all manners of events, most virtually but some in outdoor, socially distanced settings. The university's numerous student groups intend to keep the community active and involved as much as possible. Keep on the lookout for upcoming events, during and between the fall and spring semesters, on Cougar Link.
However students stay connected, they should make every effort to do so with their family, friends and the university while they're away. It's good to take a break, but there's too much to miss out on if they're not looking.