Making the Most of Socially Distanced Socialisation at University

 It’s now October, which means that most of us are getting back into the full swing of things at university… Or are we?

Certainly, things are looking a little (okay a lot) different… from online seminars to pre-recorded lectures you can binge (not sure I’d fancy a lecture binge personally, but you do you), a lot of aspects of university life have changed. Of course one of the biggest differences has been the social aspect. 

With pubs and bars enforcing a rule of six, club nights being non-existent and society socials taking place on everyone’s favourite video conferencing platform, Zoom, it’s fair to say that this is an academic year like no other. 

And while, on the bright side, I’ve found that I’ve not missed a single seminar (yet!) or gone to a 9AM lecture with a groggy head, it would be dishonest of me not to say that it does feel like we are lacking something this year. 

Alas, no worries, because I thought I’d take it upon myself to write up a little bit of advice on how to make the most of the situation. Of course, we’re all still navigating this inconvenient (to say the least) arrangement but even now university students are coming up with innovative ways to be, well, students. 

Join Societies! 

As always, university societies are a brilliant way to meet new people. And while we can’t get together in a bar, I can say that without a doubt the student committees behind each society are racking their brains thinking of the best ways to get everyone involved while remaining safe and socially distanced. 
Of course, at times it may feel like yet another Zoom Quiz is going to do your head in, but when you can’t go out just spending an hour or so chatting to new faces (after the initial awkwardness) does help you feel like you’ve gotten a decent amount of social interaction. 
On top of that, societies are working their hardest to come up with other new and inventive ways to hold socials that offer more than yet another quiz. And I wouldn’t know much about sports, but I believe that while sports societies have limited spaces, some are still doing their usual sporty things (at time of writing). 
For those of you attending Cardiff University, may I just plug all of the fabulous language societies, because as a committee member of French Society, I can confirm that we are all doing our best (and our best is pretty brilliant and only getting better as we adapt to this year’s climate). 

Housemate Party 

Just to specify, please do not throw a 40+ person house party that is NOT what I am saying here. 
What I am saying is that you can easily have a good time with a few close mates, namely the ones you live with.
Get some beers in, some tunes on and call it a party, because let’s be honest it’s as close as you’re getting to one. 
For the most part, us students seem to end up in houses that squeeze in as many students as possible, which is quite useful when you’re not allowed people over. In my house of eight, we don’t even need all of us to partake for it to feel like a bit of a party.
I suppose this depends on what your definition of a party is though, as my dad is insistent a party must have at least 10 people otherwise it’s a gathering. I firmly believe that a party is less formal than a gathering, and should have a focal point which we are celebrating, like a birthday or the end of an exam period, or even a Friday. 
Anyway, what I’m saying is find a day when everyone is free, make up an excuse to celebrate, get dressed up, and call it a party. 

Support local businesses! 

Just because clubs aren’t throwing massive nights, doesn’t mean you can’t go out. 
Grab a friend and explore your city, and hit up some small, independent businesses.
For a fun evening (that ends with you home at ten, but this isn’t an issue – start earlier!), that is actually outside of your house, try hitting up some local bars and restaurants. Maybe they won’t stock your usual £1 VK that you’d buy a PRZYM’s Quids In (or whatever cheap student club night takes place in your city), but they will, without a doubt, stock something of a higher quality. Sure it might be a bit spennier, but think of the Instagram posts.
Or go out for brunch and a coffee, or try visiting some small shops. Every business could do with a bit of footfall right now, but especially those who don’t have the backing of a massive company. If you’ve got a few spare pounds leftover from your student loan, skip yet another fast food delivery from a huge chain and get out the house to go to a local independent you’ve never visited before. 

Get a Job!

If you think you’ll have time, I am a massive advocate for part-time work while you’re at university. It may seem weird to suggest this in a post giving advice on how to socialise, but I definitely made a fair amount of friends through the workplace when I started a part-time job alongside my course. 
It’s definitely harder to find a job right now and, depending on who you are, it may add more stress, but if it’s something you would have considered anyway, then it would be worth looking into finding some work. 

Reach out on Social Media, and in real life where ever possible! 

Okay, obviously social media is no replacement for actual interaction, but it sure has been a useful tool over the last couple of months. Keep using it to reach out to people, especially those stuck in isolation or those who you can’t see because of local lockdowns (ME!). 
A short video chat can make a difference huuuuuge to someone who hasn’t seen a human face in a couple of weeks. 
If you’re a fresher and you’re finding it particularly hard to meet new people, I would definitely recommend finding some of those big fresher chats online and joining local student Facebook groups, or simply dropping into the DMs of someone who looks friendly (but don’t be disheartened if you don’t get a reply, messages get lost and not everyone feels comfortable replying to strangers). I know for one, that I would be happy to offer advice and point people in the direction of societies or other clubs they may want to join. 
Just a random photo because I don’t have any recent ones that are relevant to the post!
And keep finding ways that you can safely meet others. These days the rules may differ in some areas so check the guidelines and try to get out & about if you can. 
Of course, as always, stay safe, wear a mask and don’t do anything that isn’t allowed. 

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