By Kimmy Kelly

We now all know what it feels like to be stuck in our houses. For most of the spring and summer of last year, we barely left our homes. Unless you were an essential worker or irresponsible, you were in your house day after day with only your immediate family or whoever else you live with. We made it through with Tiger King and Zoom activities to keep us preoccupied, but the pandemic has not ended, nor has school. Now we’re faced with living on campus under strict guidelines and following an online curriculum. Quarantine was hard to get through while in an entire house, now shrink that down to only four walls. If, like me, you don’t have a roommate, boredom may seem to have been your only consistent companion these past few months; but I’ve found a few ways to keep it at bay. Here are some tips from a senior graduating during a pandemic. Hopefully you’ll find some useful for next semester.

First and most obvious, find something to watch. Whether you are a superhero fan and want to subject yourself to a Marvel Cinematic Universe binge (Wandavision was 10/10) or you want something a little more lighthearted like The Office, sitting down to watch a movie or TV show is a foolproof way to stay entertained for a few hours. I’ve binged my fair share of shows over the past year — most recently The Vampire Diaries — but I’ve found that the best way to be entertained while still being a diligent student is to use episodes as rewards. Switch off between watching an episode and completing an assignment. Maybe get a little crazy and watch a whole movie after submitting a big project. I’ve found that this helps with motivation to get assignments done. Make sure you don’t rush through your work though, you can take the time to proofread your paper before finding out if Elena chooses Damon or Stefan.

Next, reading is a personal go-to. Something about getting enthralled in the pages of a story makes time fly by. I’ve recently been enjoying the works of Cassandra Clare, Leigh Bardugo, and Ellen Hopkins. If you find a book on any topic that interests you, you will enjoy it. Do some research and maybe discover a new author or genre you haven’t explored before. As an English major, this has been a great way to relax from reading older, more academic texts and letting myself relish in the simplicity of YA literature. 

Regardless of how many new ways you find to pass the time, there’s no getting around how often you’ll be in your room. Take the time to really think about how you want the environment to feel. I suggest having designated areas for work and leisure, which can be difficult but even something as simple as only using your desk for schoolwork can help. Carefully pick what decorations you want to have around your space. Don’t leave the walls bare; find some cool art prints or hang up pictures of your friends, family or pets. I promise I won’t tell Res Life if you have a tapestry. I’ve recruited friends to design fun prints to hang up as well as added a copious amount of pictures of my puppy to my wall. We’ve been spending an unprecedented amount of time staring at screens, why not make the surrounding scenery joyful to look at when it’s time to give your eyes a break?

Though many establishments are closed, there are opportunities to leave your room for things other than class. Weather permitting, take your zoom calls outside. The fresh air and change of scenery will boost morale and help you focus better than while surrounded by the distractions of your own room. Maybe take a walk while listening to a podcast or some music, even a recorded lecture from class. Clear your mind with exercise and fresh air. If it’s too cold or raining, going for a short drive can clear your head too. Drives to the beach kept me sane at the height of quarantine. We may not be able to go to concerts or bars, but blasting a beloved playlist while heading down a parkway may fill that void for a bit.

Lastly, I cannot stress enough how important it is to not isolate yourself. This one seems hard if you’re living alone in a place no one can visit you. You’re not in jail. Talk to your friends and family as often as you like, but also get involved on campus. Zoom events can still be social even if they feel a little weird. See if there are any socially distanced happenings on campus and check them out. Maybe don’t delete the spam of emails from Student Activities one week, which I admit I am guilty of doing. If at first it doesn’t seem like your thing, you might be surprised. Even meeting with some classmates for a study session—in person or online—can brighten a boring, monotonous day. A few of my friends and I began having regular wine nights via FaceTime. Just a simple catch-up over a glass or two can be really beneficial in reminding ourselves that we aren’t in this alone and that everyone has similar struggles right now.

This pandemic is making everything feel like we’re living in a story with plot twist after plot twist, but there are ways to maintain some normalcy. It’s been a weird year, but down the line, it’ll be riddled with stories of all the ridiculous ways we learned to stay entertained and connected while apart.