COVID-19 vaccines are slowly but surely rolling out across the world and hope is on the horizon for 2021. However, many cities are still facing lockdown measures to curb the spread. Our international students are still facing a lot of restrictions in their lives. Regular social interaction is still off the table in many parts of the world and students are missing out on some of the benefits of in-person communication.
Luckily, with 21st century technology, there are still a lot of ways to stay connected with friends, family, and even strangers. Humans are social creatures and maintaining social bonds is vital for our mental health. It’s also great for practicing and developing our language skills! So we want to share some tips on how you can stay connected with your communities during quarantine!
Pick up the Phone
Use your phone the old-fashioned way and make a phone call! Call a friend, family member, or maybe even somebody you haven’t spoken with in a long time. This is a great time to slow down, reconnect with old friends and catch up on each other’s lives. If you’re feeling nervous, keep in mind that everyone is feeling a little lonely and isolated at this time. You might just make their day!
Make the most of Social Media
While social media doesn’t always get a good reputation, it can be useful for helping us to connect with our loved ones. Apps like Facebook and Whatsapp allow you to stay in touch with distant friends and relatives. You can also expand your circle and interests by connecting to larger communities using websites like YouTube, Reddit, Twitter, or Instagram. There are a lot if options out there for people with different needs and interests. Be careful not to go overboard and prioritize your mental health above all!
Bonus Option: For those of you missing out on travel experiences, check out https://www.window-swap.com/ to open a window anywhere else in the world!
Write a Letter to an Elder
Similarly to international students, seniors are a group of people who are especially vulnerable to loneliness and isolation. Many senior homes in North America are requesting handwritten letters mailed to their residents to brighten up their days. You can write a little bit about yourself, tell a joke, or just send a hopeful message. This is a great way for students to put their letter-writing skills to the test!
You can get started with this project at https://loveforourelders.org/letters. Alternatively, you can do some research to find a senior home in your own city where letters from strangers are welcomed.
Organize a Book or Movie Club
Building friendships with fellow international students can be difficult when you’re learning online or adhering to social distancing rules. So why not build relationships outside the classroom through organizing a book or movie club? Ask your classmates if they would be interested in reading and discussing a book together. You can also make use of tools such as Netflix Party to watch movies or TV shows together. You can safely hold discussions sessions online through Zoom. This is a great way to practice English while staying connected with your ILSC community.
Participate in official ILSC Activities
ILSC also offers online activities through our activity portal: https://student.ilsceducation.com/events/. A lot of our activities are there to help support students academically outside the classroom. However, keep an eye out for more social events where you can have a chat, play some boardgames, or practice relaxing yoga. You can connect with students and staff in all different campuses through our activity portal. Schedule Outdoor
Activities with Friends
While many cities are still not allowing indoor gatherings, it is still possible to see friends in person if you go outside! Ask a friend if they’d like to go on a walk or run with you. Don’t be afraid of the cold. In Canada, there’s a variety of outdoor winter activities to experience in the snow. Just remember to bundle up, wear a mask, and maintain social distancing!
This is a challenging time for international students and it can be easy to become isolated and lonely. COVID-19 is still a real threat and social distancing is still a necessary reality for many of us around the world. We are all doing our part to keep each other safe but that doesn’t mean we have to do it alone. We can still use technology to stay connected to each other. We hope these tips help you to stay in touch with your friends and family and also to build new communities to support your English learning journey.