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8 Ways to Live Your Best (Pandemic) Life at College

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

As a freshman at Syracuse University, I’ve experienced a fall semester that’s been wildly different than many students before me thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. My first year has been nothing like I imagined it would be, though it’s not necessarily been bad.

Surviving? Yes.

Thriving? Maybe not.

With a few months of college amid a pandemic under my belt, I’ve got a few words of advice for those of us heading back to campus this spring—or even fall—and wanting to make the most of it. 

1. Decorate Your Dorm

Make your room a place you enjoy spending time, because you will be there— a lot. With online classes still very much en vogue, those four walls will be much more familiar to you than they normally would if not for the, ya know, global pandemic. Put photos of friends and family on the walls, hang up some lights and make your bed (it really does make a difference).

2. Switch Up Your Study Spaces

Get out of your dorm. You will not be in a classroom very often, if at all, so find a different place to study or attend classes for a change of scenery. You’ll feel more productive if you switch it up, particularly if you can work outside or find study spaces in your library or building that are open. My favorite spots at Syracuse are a study room in Whitman, the Quad and the second floor of my dorm building, Lawrinson. 

3. Go to School-Run Activities

At Syracuse, we have movies on the Quad, exercise activities and food nights—all of which are a safe way to meet people during a pandemic. I enjoyed going to a Halloween movie night, joining clubs even if the meetings are just over Zoom (I chose the fashion magazine and the Women’s Network), and going to workout classes. 

4. Find Your People On Your Floor

Heck, just knock on people’s doors and get to know them. Can’t hurt. And chances are you will become good friends with many people on your floor. In my first few weeks, my roommate and I left a note on our door that told people to knock and say hi! It was a great way to meet people, especially when you’re not attending class in person and don’t cross paths with others as often.

5. Have Something to Look Forward To

It can be super tempting to join your 8 a.m. class from your bed and then promptly roll right back over and go to sleep. But that’s not what’s going to make your experience enjoyable or memorable. Make a plan the night before to go to the gym, get breakfast with a friend, explore off campus or find new spots for lunch or dinner. If the weather’s not cooperating, I make playlists on my Spotify, journal, watch movies with a few of my friends, or call or FaceTime friends and family back home.

6. Seek Help If You’re Struggling

Going to school during a global pandemic that carries with it many unknowns and daily challenges is in no way easy. It can be stressful across the board. So if you’ re struggling, take care of yourself. Reach out to a friend, a family member or seek advice from a therapist. When things get the best of me at Syracuse, I make an appointment for the MindSpa to relax and meditate. Taking care of yourself first matters the most. 

7. Stay Safe (Seriously, Though)

You know the spiel: Wear your mask. Don’t hang out in large groups. Wash your hands. Keep hand sanitizer close by and use it often. I also found it very helpful to keep a command hook in my dorm to hold all of my masks!

8. Find the Silver Lining

Yes, this is not how you wanted to college to be, but there are still so many opportunities to make it a great experience. Know that the pandemic will eventually be over if everyone does their part. Remember to appreciate everything and everyone around you. 

Take a peek at a day-in-the-life—pandemic edition—with Niche ambassador Nithya.

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