How NYU Students Are Social Distancing

What to do when you're far from your friends and run out of ideas for virtual hangouts.

Zoom isn’t just for academic classes; many students have used the platform to hang out virtually with friends. Through Zoom’s screen-sharing feature, friends are able to play online games such as Jackbox or Kahoot. (Staff Photo by Alexandra Chan)

It’s hard being back home after an abrupt end to the spring semester. It’s hard not being able to get Joe’s pizza after midnight. It’s hard not being able to spend time outside, and most of all, it’s hard not being able to catch up with your friends in-person. Even though FaceTiming your friends is fun, some students have gotten bored of it, quickly finding new and creative ways to keep in touch with loved ones.

One of the ways for students to virtually spend time with one another has been online multiplayer gaming. Both Steinhardt sophomore Joey Kinnan and Liberal Studies first-year Rizwan Amir have been playing multiplayer games such as Call of Duty, Counter Strike Global Offensive and League of Legends. The two students use various platforms to communicate with other gamers: from Discord app for Kinnan to Amir’s preferred Xbox Live.

“The first few rounds of a [Call of Duty game] are pretty basic, so we don’t talk much then,” Amir said. “But once you get to the later rounds, we start to sort out who’s going to get which gun, and who’s got the most money to open each door.”

Like the rest of NYU students, Tandon senior Claire Velau has been using Zoom to attend her classes. But, for her, it’s also been a way to connect with her friends.

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“Typically, we plan [the call] and someone makes a Zoom link,” Velau said. “And then we invite each other on Google Calendar and send out the link. Either we just talk or play virtual games like Jackbox or Kahoot.”

Velau was also invited to a Zoom party to celebrate her friend’s 22 birthday. With each guest attending from a different location, they were able to put together a surprise party for her.

“Someone organized it over Facebook,” Velau said. “We all logged on five minutes before and got her sister involved. It really was like a surprise birthday party.”

Though most fitness facilities and gyms have been closed for quarantine, social distancing doesn’t prevent many from staying active. Kinnan found a creative loophole that still lets him play tennis with his friends.

“We just stay on opposite sides of the court,” Kinnan said. “I don’t really touch anybody.”

Kinnan also makes sure to arrive and leave separately from his friends to minimize the risk of potentially contracting or spreading the virus.

Tandon sophomore Chris Fazekas attended a family member’s funeral over Zoom. 

“It was cool to attend an event like that and have that sort of connection,” Fazekas said. “It’s difficult to hold events over video chat but it’s important that people are still trying to make things happen. The connection is what stops you from feeling so isolated.”

Though many of Fazekas’ family members were able to attend the funeral via Zoom, the service didn’t go as planned.

“[Our family] forgot to buy the full version of Zoom, so the service shut off after about 45 minutes,” Fazekas said. “That was kind of a downside.”

Yet not everyone is actively trying to find new ways to keep in touch. Tisch junior Pema Dolkar, while talking to her friends from time to time, uses her quarantine at home to focus on her hobbies.

“I’m getting back to video editing and producing content,” Dolkar said. “I’ve set up a makeshift studio where I’m taking pictures, using art supplies and just trying to be as creative as possible with the equipment I have.”

Dolkar has also been trying to use her phone and social media as little as possible. Instead, she’s been keeping herself busy with a whole stack of books.

“Pick up a book and walk around the house with it,” Dolkar suggests for everyone trying to find something to do during social distancing. “Just hold it in your hand until you read the first page.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 6, 2020, e-print edition. Email Yusuf Husain at [email protected]

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