As you become accustomed to online learning in university, the sparks might fade both in your personal relationships and your excitement about online learning. This might be because you get used to the comfort of your own home, and therefore lose motivation in coming to online class. Or you might find that with less time together in person, you and your friends grow apart and you start to lose the time you spent together that you both treasured.
This first blog of our “Keeping the Spark Alive” series will give you some advice based on my own personal experience (as a 3rd year UBC student who has had 10+ months of online studying) to keep your spark in your relationships alive this year in 2021.
Relationships & Friendships
Getting used to online learning means that sometimes we might forget to connect with other people. Ever since I started online schooling in March 2020, I have noticed that the amount of time I have spent socializing has decreased significantly. This was mainly because now that school work was online and I could also do internships/part-time work remotely, my main form of socializing was mostly online. Forgetting to connect with friends and my loved ones made me feel overwhelmed and lonely at times. However, I am proud to say that I have learned from my mistakes, and this is some advice that I have for you in regards to keeping the spark alive in your relationships:
1. Try something new together
When I got used to online schooling as a routine, I found that it was hard to make things exciting or find interesting things to talk about with friends. So why don’t you try something new together? Trying a new activity can be exciting, plus, you might learn something new about your friend/significant other that you never knew before.
Over this winter break, one of the new things I tried out with my friend is the Mystery Box Cooking Challenge. This event is one of the funded projects from the Fall 2020 Community Grant from UTown at UBC. Below is a picture of the participants’ dishes at the event. We were challenged to cook with mysterious ingredients within thirty minutes. We were given a box two days prior to the competition, and were given instructions not to open the mystery box until the date of the challenge. The mysterious ingredients turned out to be tomatoes, tofu, spices, and pita bread – which was surprising and fun for my friend and I to cook since we were not familiar with these ingredients at the time. My friend and I did a new thing we have never tried before – participate in a virtual cooking challenge – and we were able to strengthen our bond by doing this.
Tiffany’s Tips: If you are interested in learning more about the community funded projects, check out the list of funded projects here. You might find a new event to try out with your friends!
2. Initiate the conversation
Other people might be struggling the same way to maintain the sparks in their relationship with you. By taking a step forward and initiating the conversation, you never know how joyful the other person will be. This conversation does not have to be in-person, but you can also connect with friends via virtual calls.
For example, I utilized this online period to reconnect with some of my old friends from high school. It has been awhile that we have not chatted with one another, so it was refreshing to reconnect with them. Talking with people you knew a long time ago can help you realize interesting things about yourself. You realize how you and your friends both change, and laugh about the good old times you have had together in the past. It was refreshing and nostalgic at the same time for me, for sure.
Tiffany’s Tips: If you are in Collegia right now, cherish that opportunity to connect with people, even when you are not sure you are that “close” with them. They might also be interested in connecting with you. From my personal experience, it is the easiest for you to make new friends in first year, given how all of you are in a fresh start and you are all open to meeting new people.
For those who are not in Collegia, I would advise the same thing as in my personal story above- use this time to reconnect with your old friends, no matter if they are your high school buddies or a friend you hung out a lot with in your first year. Initiate that conversation – you never know what is going to happen.
3. Schedule online calls with classmates/teammates
This may sound awkward- calling someone you are not close with. Well, I tried and I was surprised that I actually really enjoyed it. Connecting with my teammates online to study together for my coding class was something I did not expect for a shy person like me. However, we ended up having a good time chatting
with each other. I found that the call I had with my teammates was not just fun because of the studying aspect, but also because I had somebody to talk to when I was stressing out in finals season.
Tiffany’s Tips: If you are interested in scheduling online calls with your teammates, no matter if it is for studying or just chatting with one another, make sure that you “book” your calls with them in advance. This will ensure that you show you are thinking ahead of the other person’s schedule and you respect their time. By setting up a time in advance to call, you can also remind your friend a day prior to make sure they do not forget their virtual “date” with you. I personally like to use Google Calendar for this.
4. Spending time apart is okay- take care of yourself and focus on your personal development
Believe it or not, connecting with other people is not always a good thing. I tend to contradict myself a lot- I want to hang out with people just so I am “social” enough but sometimes I crave the feeling of just being by myself. Over time, I have learned that having this balance between having time for your relationships and having time for yourself is important. When you are comfortable being by yourself, you will have the time to reflect and understand what you need in your relationships with people, and which relationships you should focus on developing more.
Tiffany’s Tips: I spent my last term practicing my habit of writing in a diary, and I found that this act is helpful to trace my thoughts and see my progress (no matter if it is my small goal of connecting with people, or bigger goals).
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog post, where I will share more advice on keeping the spark alive with your learning in university this year!