Student Life

Making Memories and Connections with Other Students

Despite the pandemic, Gabriella has stayed connected to others at UVA. Find out how she’s safely making the most of her fourth year.

My fourth year isn’t how I imagined it to be. I thought it would be my most social year: full of memories with friends and fun weekend events and traditions. Although COVID-19 has caused things to be pretty different, all hope is not lost! I have still managed to safely make quite a few memories with my old friends while also connecting with new classmates.

My “pod” is made up of a few friends I have known throughout college, and the COVID-19 restrictions have actually deepened our connections with each other. While the weather transitioned from summer to fall, we were able to enjoy lots of nice moments outside. To get some fresh air and time away from the screen, we’ve gone on walks around the Corner and the Lawn. We go out for lunches or dinners at nearby restaurants and opt to sit and eat outside. Another fun option is having a picnic on the Lawn! To keep each other motivated, we’ve also studied at 1515 when we want a change of scenery. They have great social distancing guidelines that make me feel comfortable in that space. When I walk around the Corner, I run into old (or current) classmates, and that almost feels like old times, when we would pass each other on the way to class.

I’ve also gotten the opportunity to grow closer with my new classmates over Zoom. I know what you’re thinking – not another Zoom interaction! But for safety and everyone’s peace of mind, I’ve found that to be the best option for now. I facilitate a mentoring group on Grounds called the Young Women Leaders Program (YWLP), and this year everything is virtual. Compared to other years, I realized that this year my group was missing some of the closeness we usually have because the simple moments of walking to and from class together or carpooling to the middle school were gone.

To fill that gap, I set up individual calls with all of the mentors in my group, just for us to chit-chat. I found that these 15- to 30-minute individual calls made me feel a lot more comfortable and close with the mentors in my group. I also encouraged them to set up one-on-one calls with each other, which they did! Overall, that was a great way for our group to bond and feel like we have more personal relationships with each other. One fun icebreaker for our group was guessing and revealing how tall everyone was. When we’re in person, that’s something we observe right away, but when everything is on Zoom, you don’t realize you don’t know! It was something that got everyone laughing, and some of us surprised each other with how short or tall we are.

I know the restrictions and the pandemic in general can be disappointing and frustrating. But it is possible to stay connected and get to know other students even now. Get outside with friends or set up a Zoom or FaceTime call with someone just for fun!

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