The COVID-19 pandemic has made it anything but easy to gather for special occasions, be it weddings, reunions, or even birthdays. In a year with so much tumult and confusion, birthdays can feel particularly significant. Unfortunately, to limit the spread of the virus, many families and individuals have had to forego their birthday celebrations entirely.
However, there is always more than one way to do things, and the challenges and changes in 2020 have given everyone the opportunity to put their creative skills to good use. With the rise of video calls via Zoom and other platforms, families and friends have proven that there are still many ways to celebrate birthdays during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1).Virtual Surprise Party
Surprise parties have become a traditional way to celebrate birthdays by now, but the tradition doesn’t have to fade away with the loss of in-person parties. With Zoom, Skype, or Facetime serving as optimal replacements for real-life meetings, it’s all too easy to convince an unsuspecting friend to log on for a virtual surprise party.
Under the guise of a normal business call, anyone can join a meeting with the intent of working, only to find their expectations blown away as they celebrate their birthday in an original, safe way.
2). Joint Virtual Birthday Party
With so many events canceled or missed out on because of COVID-19, it might be difficult to catch up on all of the celebrations when it’s safe to do so. Many people who have anticipated their birthdays for weeks and months may feel disappointed or left out as the current environment discourages celebratory gatherings.
Fortunately, in a time where virtual gatherings are commonplace, celebrating multiple birthdays at once can be a fun, unique way to create a party for many people who might otherwise miss out on their special day, and it gives you the opportunity to experiment with all kinds of virtual celebrations during COVID-19.
3). Birthday Care Package
As difficult as it is to gather in person during the times of COVID-19, there is no shortage of ways to communicate with friends and family, and mail is one of the most traditional ways to do so.
If you can’t be with your loved one on their special day, it can be incredibly thoughtful to send them a present or birthday care package for their at-home celebrations.
After they receive it, invite them to join you on a video call to open the package, if possible. It will be a special yet safe way for you to watch the surprise on their face as they open your gift.
4). Recorded Message
One of the many losses of COVID-19 is face-to-face communication, and many people still experience this, even as others return to work and school. Being unable to meet in person, many people have gone months without hearing their loved ones’ voices.
Around your birthday, it can be especially hard to go without hearing your friends and family wish you well and sing the traditional song.
However, one way to show your love for a friend on their birthday might be through a recorded voice message, a quick and easy way to express your excitement.
The message can be as short or as long as you want, and it can be a very personal way to show your loved one you care on their special day, as well as giving them something to hold on to even after their birthday has passed.
5). Birthday Parade
With the onset of COVID-19 and social-distancing laws, many people got creative with ways to safely visit their friends and family. One of the most popular is the socially-distanced parade, and there have been no shortage of these for birthday celebrations.
These parades can be as grand and creative as you like, with signs and decorations to adorn every car in the line-up. Just invite your loved one to step outside and cheer them on as you ride by. It can create an unforgettable birthday memory during a stressful and dark time.
So much was lost during the COVID-19 pandemic this past year, including countless memories and celebrations. However, there are always ways to show our love and support for friends and family, and we have every opportunity to express our creativity for the people in our lives who reach exciting milestones.
Now that everyone has access to Zoom, Skype, and Facetime, friends and family can still create amazing virtual birthday celebrations during COVID-19. With a little brainstorming and work, it’s easy to turn anyone’s birthday into a memory that they’ll never forget, even during a global pandemic.
5 Ways College Students Can Combat Depression and Anxiety Due to COVID-19
Wear a mask, stay in your rooms, don’t go off campus, sanitize in every building, remain six feet apart; campus life is not like it has ever been before. COVID-19 has affected college life drastically. The thrill of moving in, meeting new friends in your hall, going out and having a good time, and adventuring across campus without fear of the unknown is no longer. Day by day, anxiety and depression are becoming even more prevalent across college campuses.
Below are a few ways to manage this stressful and purely exhausting time as a college student. Whether you’re at home taking online courses or on campus, there is always an outlet to ease your mind.
#1: Talk to friends, both virtually and socially-distant.
Socialization has become increasingly hard, especially on a college campus, where you arrive with the hopeful mindset of seeing new faces, making new connections, and doing new activities; to not have that is brutal.
However, in today’s society, with the help of FaceTime, Skype, video game chat rooms, and phone calls, there are so many ways to communicate. Not only that but what is the best way to connect with someone? Over a meal, of course. Go out and grab a meal with a friend or even an acquaintance that you hope to become closer to.
It’s easy to say you’re lonely, but it’s hard to not be. Make the extra effort, even if it is weird and unnatural, and make that phone call, or sit outside with someone.
#2: Find a new hobby.
This semester is odd for living standards for many colleges. It is with these changes, however, that every student has the opportunity for a new hobby. Going into this semester, I had no knowledge of who my suitemates were in my dorm building.
However, due to being stuck with each other constantly, we developed some new fun habits. Some of these include my suitemate teaching me to play guitar, as well as sharing our favorite TV shows and music tastes. With all of the private time we have been given, it has become easier than ever to find a new passion.
#3: Explore your home turf.
If you’re on a college campus, chances are you are close to, if not connected or within, what is known as a “college town.” Now is probably the best time to go and see what there is to do within these towns.
While most small businesses are closed and there are low numbers of people within the streets of towns or city centers, go and see what there is to offer. Even make a plan with some friends for the future! Of course, make sure you’re still doing everything at a distance.
I’m sure many people have been hearing about this one a lot, but exercise has and will always be a key factor in personal health. There are hundreds of at-home workout regimens that you can find all across the internet.
Whether you’re aiming for weight loss, muscle toning, or just generally getting in shape, everything is accessible at the click of a button. It is not only good for your body; exercise helps with just about every piece of your psyche as well. The proper amount of physical activity aids sleep, stress, and general serotonin levels. So, get active, and give yourself some time for self-improvement.
#5: Document the Little Things.
Quarantine has made it extremely difficult to see the bright side of many situations. One factor that has led to my overall happiness is a bit of journaling. Oftentimes we don’t see the good within the current bad state of affairs of our lives.
By striving to find the good things and writing them down, even if it’s as simple and trivial as you drinking a glass of water, write down the positives of each and every day. The ability to look back and be happy with events not only allows you to stay in tune with your surroundings, but it is also a fantastic reminder that diamonds in the rough really do occur.
College life is a time of a complete change. And now, more than ever, feelings of social anxiety and loneliness have swept college campuses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tips listed above are simply the groundwork for ways to maintain yourself and a good attitude during the course of the COVID-19 semester. Of course, not all of these will help, and some are more distractions. But that’s fine, as it is just a start. Maintain good faith, keep spirits high, and, once again, wear a mask.
The New College Life: Reflecting on my Siblings’ Experience with Remote Learning
Students studying abroad during the outbreak of COVID-19 had a unique experience dealing with travel bans and new school regulations. My brother was studying abroad in Italy. Andrea, the youngest, was living in her dorm at NYU.
My other sister, Silvia, was working as a professor at a community college in New York City. Though we all live in separate homes in Westchester County, New York, we all share one major experience: living in the college remote learning environment since the outbreak of COVID-19.
In March 2020, the college life they had always known changed unexpectedly. My siblings and I began to study online. But, their lives changed in a more drastic way than mine. I was used to remote learning; they were not.
I was used to the sedentary home life; they were used to the agitated, turbulent, and exciting life of studying and working in populous cities. My brother had to return from the city of Rome before the semester ended. Andrea left her dorm and her freedom on March 11, when most schools closed due to the pandemic. And, my sister Silvia, stopped commuting to New York City to teach Sociology.
Six months passed, and what they had known of their lives as college students was gone. “Studying in Rome was the greatest and scariest thing of my life,” Angel said. “In Italy, things were getting worse each day. I feel lucky.” Now, Angel gets up in the morning to attend classes in his room where his desk is. “It’s easier to get more distracted when you take online classes,” he said.
Andrea completed her secondary education in Westchester County and was very excited to experience college life at NYU. “I didn’t want to leave my dorm and my school, my friends, but I had to,” she said, disappointed. The college life she dreamed of, only lasted for about seven months before she had to go back home.
Angel and Andrea are among the many college students who began studying remotely since March. “Only one of my seven closest friends will be attending classes on campus,” Andrea said. Universities in the city of New York are giving students the option to either study in person or remotely.
The NYU Office of Admission indicated that most of the school’s current college students take at least one class online. It seems clear, as we look at the people around us, that the world of remote learning has expanded.
Besides students having to adapt to their new learning environment, professors, like Silvia, are also adapting to their new work-life conditions. Many professors like her had no previous experience teaching online.
“Sometimes, it’s difficult for me to keep students engaged,” said Silvia.
She attended virtual trainings by Columbia University that focused on teaching classes online to college students. “It’s important to establish a community in an online classroom,” said Silvia. Building a community is making the class friendly where students feel free to share their thoughts.
The goal of teaching remotely while building a community is for students to feel comfortable enough to reflect on the topics discussed in class freely. “I want to make time and space for them to share their thoughts,” said Silvia determinedly. Since there is less human interaction with remote learning, it is necessary to build a virtual community to keep that sense of human connection.
The community college where Silvia teaches offers both classes in person and online; however, her department, Sociology, will be offering only remote learning. “About 83 percent of students in this community college will be studying online this semester,” said Silvia. Counselors and writing centers are seeing students online only and the library is open by appointments only.
The environment of college life before the pandemic has clearly changed. Yet, in a positive note, Silvia noticed that learning remotely brings flexibility for low-income families. She mentioned that one of her students is a new mother who sometimes asks to shut off her camera to breastfeed her baby.
If there weren’t new opportunities to learn online, there would be less flexibility for her to continue her education. Unfortunately, there are disadvantages to remote learning in low-income families too. Lacking a private space to study and WIFI connectivity are among these disadvantages.
“Some of my students have to go inside cars to find a private and quiet place to learn,” said Silvia.
Recently, Andrea went back to NYU to visit a friend. She realized how much NYU had changed since she left it in March. “There was a COVID Testing Center,” she said surprised. The noisy, vigorous Starbucks was empty.
There are no seating commodities anymore. Students are prohibited to visit another student’s dorm, and as expected, students are mandated to wear masks. She misses the late nights talking with friends, tasting the freedom of college life.
As opposed to the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, this pandemic came in a good time for education access. The US Department of Education found that 89 percent of all households in the United States have internet access.
About 6.9 million students were taking classes in the Fall semester of 2018. This fall, about 19.7 million students are attending colleges and universities nationwide. We can assume that at least 50 percent of these students are attending classes online.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change,” Biologist Charles Darwin said about his theory on the Survival of the Fittest. As college students pursue their careers online or on campus, they also adapt to be part of a safer future.
Before this time, humanity showed its great resilience to survive wars. Now, college students are fighting a battle against invisible infectious agents. This proves that this generation is tough. This generation fights disease through adaptation. It fights to prevail. It fights for existence.
What School Never Taught You: The Best Sources of Online Sex-Ed
Everyone enters college at a different place in their personal development. Knowledge of sexual health and wellness is no different. While a lot of schools may provide short programs on consent and STI prevention, they often don’t go into the depth that college students — and other people — really need.
This is where the internet comes into play. Recently, a vibrant community of sex education and sex educators has flourished entirely digitally by serving as a font of information of every kind.
They provide resources for anyone and everyone confused about some of the most taboo subjects of discussion in the world.
For anyone asking those questions with no one to answer them, here’s a whole list of resources to draw on to figure out the things people probably never told you to ask about.
Tabú is an online hub for sex education of all varieties. It includes a bank of articles written by qualified sex educators about anything you could ask for, as well as purchasable online class sessions if you’re looking for a more regimented learning structure.
The topics discussed include tips for anal sex, sex toy recommendations, and realistic body expectations for an age saturated by airbrushed and edited media. Additionally, they have accounts on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube where you can connect with other people out there in the world.
O.school is a school for learning about orgasms, both from a factual standpoint and in a more hands-on manner. The company was founded by Andrea Barrica, a woman raised in a conservative family that promoted abstinence-only education. It focuses on producing medically accurate information about sex and sexuality that is actually useful to people who are curious about — or engaging in — sexual activity.
Article topics include how to get more pleasure out of sex, relationship advice, information on the actual biological portion of sex, and pieces written by people from a variety of backgrounds about their experiences with sex and sex education. O.school is a one-stop-shop for building a strong, healthy relationship with sex.
Afrosexology is dedicated to talking about and often reclaiming, Black sexuality, along with the intrinsic links within it to oppression. The company’s founders, Dalychia and Rafaella, believe that sexuality is a positive and important aspect of people’s lives and that it’s crucial for people to be supported on their journey of self-discovery. They offer workshops on everything from masturbation to self-love and also have a blog where they answer submitted questions about any topic you can think of.
Killer And A Sweet Thang
A bit different than the other entries on this list, Killer And A Sweet Thang is a collection of people’s — generally millennials — experiences with sex and sexuality in their lives. From healing from sexual trauma to discovering a new identity as demisexual, Killer And A Sweet Thang is a great place to find short-form stories of people’s real lives. It might include things that you’ve never thought of, or that you relate to intimately.
One of the best online resources for sex ed, “sexplanations” is a YouTube channel hosted by Dr. Lindsey Doe, a clinical sexologist who has been posting videos since 2013. The channel has covered topics as far-reaching as masturbation tips, dealing with sexual shame, and (a topical one) tips for sexually active college students. With hundreds of videos that are both strictly factual and utterly useful, Sexplanations is an excellent stop for online sex ed.
Stevie Boebi is an out and proud lesbian who is an important queer sex educator on YouTube. She has a series called “Lesbian Sex Ed” that focuses on exactly what you’d expect, as well as a huge list of other videos about queer and lesbian sex, from tips for flirting as a lesbian to how to go down on someone. College is a place where people learn more about themselves, including their sexuality. If you’re starting to question your sexuality or have questions about what to do now, Stevie Boebi’s YouTube channel is a helpful place to start.
Shannon Boodram, known online as Shan Boody, is a sexologist and intimacy expert, as well as a published author of a book about relationship advice. Her YouTube channel covers the realities of sex, the questions that everyone who’s sexually active will have from time to time, as well as the questions that anyone in a relationship (or looking for one) is going to ask. Chances are, if you’ve asked it, Shan Boody can answer it.
Ash Hardell is a queer, trans person who posts a lot of content centered on their own history of coming to terms with their gender identity and sexuality, as well as their journey to where they are at present. Ash Hardell uses their personal experience to talk about what at least some trans and queer people experience. Hardell’s videos include a series on having and recovering from top surgery, as well as discussions about pronouns and deadnames. If you’re looking for more information about those topics, whether to get educated or because you’re wondering about your own identity, Ash Hardell is a great resource to have on your journey of self-discovery.
Watts The Safeword
If you’re looking for a YouTube channel about queerness and kink, this is one of the best. Hosted by a gay couple in a BDSM relationship, Watts The Safeword emphasizes safety and information in all things sexual; “Safeword” is literally in the name. Watts The Safeword has videos on all sorts of aspects of kink, some more extreme than others, so delve with caution. Regardless, if you’re looking for open discussion of some of the most taboo topics in society, this is a good place to start.
Gayish is a podcast about gayness, as the title implies. Hosted by Mike Johnson and Kyle Getz, Gayish takes a gay stereotype each week and picks it apart for its truth and its blatant falsehoods. With various guests including ex-Mormons, gay pornstars, and other sex educators, Gayish is a great way to learn about the experiences of gay men. It is available on Apple, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.
Turn Me On Hosted by Jeremie and Bryde, a married, poly, adventurous couple, Turn Me On is a no-holds-barred open discussion on everything sex. From swinging to butt stuff to claiming a sexual identity, Turn Me On is happy to talk sex, minus the shame, in an unabashed way that utterly owns the reality of being a sexually active person. If you’ve got questions, or want to live vicariously through others, this is a good place to look. Their podcast is available on Apple and Spotify.
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