As the Arcadia community looks back on one year of being fully online, it is important to hold onto silver linings. One year ago, April 5th, 2020, students and faculty were meant to return to campus to finish out the school year in person and what we once believed would be a two-week spring break, has turned into a year of hardship as we navigate living through the pandemic.
Looking back on this year of online schooling can be quite sad and hard to comprehend, especially after believing that we would only be online for two weeks last April. Students should know that counseling with wonderful staff is available to all and can be very beneficial to reckoning with living as a college student through a pandemic. Counseling is currently available through phone and zoom sessions; to learn more, visit this link or call 215-572-2967. And if all goes according to plan, in person sessions will be offered next semester!
Students have been frustrated, grief-stricken, and disappointed during this past year, but they have also been incredibly resilient, hard-working, and determined. Arcadia students have displayed incredible adaptability this past year, let’s take a look at some of their accomplishments:
- 1853 Communications, Arcadia’s student-run Public Relations firm, just completed their first ever virtual campaign in partner with Donate Life to raise awareness about organ donation.
- Arcadia’s theatre department proved its adaptability by putting on its first ever virtual productions which were fantastic.
- Seniors have been working tirelessly and are finishing up their theses online with the assistance of our dedicated faculty and they’re looking great so far.
Last year, we watched as the class of 2020 graduated with a diploma in the mail and now we are gearing up to hold smaller, department-based, commencement ceremonies on our beloved Haber Green this May.
As the Arcadia community plans for the upcoming academic year we are so excited to see everyone back on campus and to recreate campus life in a cautious, yet fun and interactive way. As we can see, one year can change a lot! With the vaccine rolling out and “more than 500 Arcadia community members received their first COVID vaccine dose, administered on campus by Rite Aid pharmacists on April 8 in the Great Room” to students and staff, hope is definitely on the horizon.
The one thing I have struggled with the most during the pandemic is maintaining my relationships with people I cannot spend in person time with. Just like most people, I have been stuck in a house with my family for the last couple of months. While I love my family and am used to spending a lot of time with them, seeing as I spent 18 year with them, but this is the first time I have not been able to spend time with anyone else. The short trips I take to the store does help a bit but with our masks covering our faces and at least six feet between us, it is hard to get any honest human connection that way. FaceTime and Zoom have kept human connection alive during a time it feels impossible for it to exist, yet talking to someone through a screen with no activities can get a bit old. I began to look for ways to spend time with my friends even though we have run out of things to talk about, especially since there is less to experience stuck in your house. Playing video games is the easiest thing to do virtually with the creation of gaming consoles, online gaming and digital platforms like Discord. Yet, it is not easy to spend thousands of dollars on a console, online gaming membership and the video games themselves. Here are a couple of free/cheap activities you can do over the phone with someone you no longer get to spend in person time with.
Watching television shows and movies is probably the number one thing people spend time doing together. Of course, since the pandemic started we have all done our fair share of Netflix binging but it is always more enjoyable with company. I have found a browser extension that allows you to watch the same thing as your friends at the same exact time. You simply find the show or movie you want to watch, can be on Netflix, Disney, Hulu or HBO, click the Teleparty extension in the top right corner of your browser, copy the invitation link and send it to your watch partner. When your partner clicks the link, it will bring them into the Teleparty watch room where the show or movie will be synced perfectly. If one of you pauses or skips, the video will do the same for the other person. Amazon Prime Video has their own version of this on their website, but it only works for things on available on Prime Video. JellyParty is just like Teleparty but it allows you to watch anything from anywhere together. So if there is something on YouTube you may want ti watch together, I would recommend JellyParty. But be warned that while all these extensions are wonderful, JellyParty can be finicky at times.
Pictionary is a game that most people have probably played at least once in their life. Skribbl gives you the opportunity to play this with your friends even when they aren’t with you. For this to work, you will need to visit skribbl.io and create a room. After you have done that, you simply need to copy the invitation link and send it to however many people you would like to play with. Once they receive the link and click it, they will be transported into your created room. After that all thats left to do is press play!
This is a great website for someone who likes playing comical games with friends. It is a lot like Kahoot but with the raunchiness of Cards Against Humanity. There are multiple games to play on Jackbox and all of them are hilarious. Quiplash is a game to see which of your friends can come up with the funniest joke on the spot. Fibbage helps you figure out which of your friends is a horrible liar in a humorous way. And Drawful is a lot like skribbl but with a slight twist that results in hilarious drawings. Trivia Murder Party is a lot like Jeopardy, if Alex Trebek constantly made fun of you and and killed whoever lost. All these games are available on JackBoxgames,com and all you need to do is pay less than $10 for any game you want, create a room and send the rooms code to your friends!
If you are reading this post, then you probably are learning or working at home during this pandemic! Ever since the world shut down, people find it extremely hard to focus on their responsibilities within their home. Here are some things you need in your home office to make sure you stay on top of your work!!
1. Your Computer
You can’t have a home office without your computer! Try to put this in a well-lighted area for zoom meetings. A monitor is optional, but sometimes very helpful for students.
Make sure you are close to your router to avoid technical difficulties when working!
It’s super important to have a desk area where you can focus on your responsibilities. You need to be able to have an area that’s strictly for your work!
4. A Comfy Chair
You don’t want to be uncomfortable! You’re going to be spending a lot of time in it. So you want to make sure it’s good quality!
5. A Lamp
Lamps to help your lighting of course! This helps you when you’re staying up late to do your homework.
6. Surge Protector
It’s always helpful to have these around! There will be a million different cords to plug in, and this will help you have the space for them.
You may need to print out some assignments! If you are like me and save past assignments for your future, this comes in handy!
8. File Cabinet
For all of your assignments of course! Also a very simple and convenient way to stay organized.
This can help you stay organized daily! Being home, sometimes we lose track of our assignments. This helps you stay on task!
Make sure you can shut out everyone in your household! No distractions!
11. Healthy Snacks
It’s easy to grab something quick and easy. Make sure you have some healthy snacks in your office so you’re taking care of yourself!
Surround yourself with pictures of your favorite people, places, pets, etc.
These come in handy for those zoom calls!
14. White Board
Just in case you need to brainstorm ideas, write down goals, or reminders, etc.
15. Pens, Pencils, Notebooks!
Even though we’re all virtual, you can still take notes!!
I hope this is somewhat helpful to you and your new home-office! Good luck!
There’s not one person out there who hasn’t been impacted by this pandemic and one of the things we miss most are events. Any kind of event, whether it’s a movie night with friends, a work party, or an award show, perhaps, a coffee date or 21st birthday. Whatever is it, we’ve all missed something or have seen it get cancelled and the sinking feeling that you’ll never be able to go out again absolutely sucks. Soon Thanksgiving and Christmas will be the focus of holiday stress as people try and figure out how they can possibly bring some family and friends together. It’s not easy planning virtual events or finding ways to spend time socially distant, but I looked into some ways you might be able to make an event happen, while staying safe.
Here are some things to ask yourself as you try and find ways to bring people together;
- Can you gather outside?
- Is there an outdoor place either public or private that would allow your group the space to mingle while wearing masks?
When possible, holding events outdoors is a great way to allow people to see each other face to face without getting too close to each other. I noticed the sudden return to nature when lockdown began. When we were no longer required to attend our normal workspaces, we turned towards the pockets of nature in our communities. Green spaces sometimes feel more at home than buildings do, and taking care of these spaces is important too.
- Make sure to always take all trash with you, leaving nothing behind.
- Make sure to always have your mask on you because parks are likely to be busy. Consider making individual servings so you can share food and go for activities that don’t require close contact.
- Even with precautions it’s a good idea to get tested if you end up gathering a large group.
In my local parks I’ve seen small birthday parties, group picnics where several couples/individuals set up their own blankets/chairs six feet apart, and even a lantern lighting ceremony. Being outside can make an event all the more aesthetic and can allow guests to feel more at ease than in a confined space.
My Science professor tells us he’ll be having his daughters over for thanksgiving and they’ll be utilizing both masks, face shields, and plexiglass, and while it will surely be a Thanksgiving to remember, he noted that he’d rather have the memories and the happiness of being around his family than nothing at all.
So it’s okay to feel conflicted about the Holidays this year, of course we want to draw joy and festivities from the holidays but as we enter winter, and Covid once again takes some turns for the worse, it’s worth it to make even the silliest accommodations in order to keep each other safe while spending time together.
- Can the event be held virtually?
- What adjustments need to be made for an event to happen virtually?
- What does a successful virtual event look like?
Virtual events are tricky but when done right they can be a great alternative to an in person event.
Early in the pandemic, my family organized a zoom happy hour with my dad’s extended family. Happy hour on the beach is a favorite activity of ours so we hoped grabbing some drinks and sitting with our immediate family while on zoom with everyone would be a great idea.
However, there were a few things we didn’t really anticipate. For one, you can really only ever have one person speaking at once. Normally, there’s up to 20 of us all having various conversations, or playing a game, someones usually taking pictures, we eat, we drink, and it’s easy going. But in a virtual call, we found ourselves awkwardly trying to hold conversations with the whole group, only to hear three voices try and respond at once.
So, what can you do to make sure a virtual event doesn’t flop? PLAN.
A virtual event will need more planning because nothing can really happen simultaneously. Each activity, speaker, or conversation must happen one at a time, and without a cohesive plan, you’ll be left with a silent zoom call and people awkwardly logging off claiming wifi problems.
One really important aspect for an event is the ability to engage with others. Is there an activity or a conversation that allows everyone to be engaged and participate in the event. Putting people in small groups and having them compete is another way to promote participation. Competition is always helpful in getting people involved.
Promote Your Event!
If the goal of your event is to expand brand or business awareness, know how to promote your event through social media. Plan posts leading up to your event to spread awareness and let people know information about how to participate ahead of time so they can plan.
Even thinking of a small party favor that could be sent out in advance, or if promoting a service/product, offer a discount or a coupon towards purchases of your product.
Some things may just get cancelled this year, and that’s just one thing we all have to face. I think there is something unique about facing a Pandemic in these exact moments in our existence. It’s a shared experience on a truly global level and it’s not a pleasant one. However, some really brilliant and beautiful things have come from this year and it’s important to remember that this won’t last forever, and there will be a time to take out our dancing shoes again. Even if the world isn’t quite the same after this.
Traditionally during the year, many people visit family and friends for the holidays. Due to the unfortunate circumstances that have befallen us in 2020 regarding COVID-19 and the regulations that have been put in place to mitigate its spread, large gatherings have become something to frown upon by many people trying to do their part to keep America healthy. Coming from personal experience, my annual Christmas gathering at my grandma’s has been canceled, along with many other people’s, to no surprise, and New Years won’t be the same without a massive crowd watching a giant disco ball drop in New York. While everything might seem bleak going forward with the rest of the year and the months that follow, I have some tips that can help make a lonely holiday fun again (until we can go back to enjoying life as it was).
Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, gift giving (and receiving) is always an exciting experience. Since most people will be spending the winter holiday away from those they love, what better to do than set up a gift exchange via mail? My friends had the brilliant idea of doing so, and we organized a Secret Santa all online with wish lists and anonymity just like we were in person. Of course if you mail a gift to someone, the jig is up and it’s no longer a “secret” Santa, but the anticipation and gifts make it all worthwhile! Once everyone receives a gift in the mail (and knows it’s part of the gift exchange), set up a video chat with everyone, play some holiday jingles, dress for the occasion, and open the gifts altogether. The get-together won’t feel complete without hugs and some board games, but just make sure to save those for the next time it’s safe to gather! Plus, the added novelty of receiving a gift from someone far away makes this holiday tip all the more fun.
Since the beginning of quarantine, people have been coming up with ways to connect with others from afar. One of my favorite things to do to have fun with my friends while we’re apart is to play some online games together. One of the great things about video calls is screen sharing, since it’s perfect for having everyone look at the same screen at once when playing together. Depending on your friend group’s interests and their budget for these games, there are lots of options across the board. For your friends just looking for any sort of fun for free, play some Roblox and have an audio chat going on. If someone likes to host a lot, they can get Jackbox, something everyone can play on their phones together for a great time full of laughter. If everyone likes to game and owns a console, set up an online room for an Xbox, Nintendo Switch, or Playstation game. Personally, I’m a Nintendo fan, and Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart are definitely some of the best options for online fun with friends. This plan works even better if everyone can manage to designate a night for a meeting every week, two weeks, or month.
Not into gaming? Have a watch party for a movie or binge a series! Someone’s bound to have something everyone wants to watch, so get cozy, pop some popcorn, turn out the lights, hit play, and laugh or cry together with friends over the computer.
If TV’s not your thing either, a long conversation with a group of friends is always fun. There’s always something to talk about and you might be able to figure out some new ideas to have fun together remotely!
Unconventional But Safe!
This is for people who are really stir-crazy, need some company ASAP, have time on their hands, and have a friend or two who want to pitch in. Quarantine with friends for two weeks! Unless someone is okay with hosting without risking a possible spread of the virus amongst other people who live with them, Airbnb typically has deals for long stays at places, so a two week stay would be relatively affordable, depending on where you go, of course. This type of thing needs some decent planning beforehand, and getting a quick COVID test and its results before leaving home would probably be best. Not saying this is the most practical way to pass the time in quarantine, but it’s definitely plausible and it sounds like a lot of fun!
Social media has been a prevalent platform during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Its use reaches countless purposes. It is a connection to family and community, an escape from the reality of the world, a marketing tool, an awareness promoter, and also a spreader of misinformation. These aspects of evolving social media usage cross the boundaries of both beneficial and detrimental. Learning to adapt to the constantly changing climate of social media is important to understand, in order to maneuver through work as a public relations professional.
During the time of the pandemic it’s been hard for many to connect with friends, family, and their communities. Social media is just one of the many ways that people are working to stay connected to each other when they can’t be together physically. One form of social media that has acquired a larger following since the pandemic is Tiktok.
Tiktok hosts a wide array of different communities, including but not limited to, Cottage Core Tiktok, Witch Tiktok, Alt Tiktok, and Dance Tiktok. These offer large communities between strangers and friends, and create an opportunity for people to feel less alone during the pandemic. Many older relatives are also turning to social media for the first time in order to connect with the older and younger members of their family. So much so that in a recent study 64% of those ages 35 to 49, and 34% of those ages 65 and up stated an increased social media following from March to May, with March and May being the months that had the most strict lockdowns during the pandemic.
One family, The McFarlands even rose to fame by filming their antics on Tiktok as a way to keep from being bored in the house during COVID-19. Among these antics they’re most well known for their group dancing videos. This form of content’s main purpose is to serve as a vehicle for smiles and laughter- something needed during tough times.
Not only has social media been used to cure loneliness during this pandemic, it has also provided a sense of escape. Something that many have struggled with, during the lockdown period, was finding things to do. For many, the solution was to log into social media and endlessly scroll through status updates, short videos, selfies, memes, and inspirational posts. The endless stream of content that is available on these platforms can cause the time to go by, and distract people from the real world. More bad news comes in every day of 2020. Some people chose to focus on real life updates, and others ignore it, by concentrating on the feel-good side of social media.
Information and Misinformation
For those who choose to tune into every update in current events, social media became the hub for quick briefings. Across all platforms information is shared nonstop about current events. For many users, their social feed is where they get a majority of their updates. This can be good, as it is a quick way of receiving important information. During the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, many relied on their social media for the quickest updates. Unfortunately, some of this news has not always been factual, and with the spread of information being amplified, it has led to a lot of division on where groups of people stand on the same issues. One example of this, in relation to COVID-19, is the anti-masker agenda. It has widely been spread on social media, through the attention it has gained, by people against wearing masks, and also people for it. By mentioning this issue on social media, both parties are amplifying how frequently it will show. This is done by using hashtags, follows, and shares to spread its relevancy in the algorithms. In this niche, there are vast amounts of misinformation about COVID-19, including vaccines, guidelines, and mask usage, that can be detrimental to how the public has reacted to the pandemic. Not only does it affect the health and safety of the public, it has also caused a lot of division between people. Recently Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have been fighting against this issue by creating misinformation warnings on posts that seem to include unfactual content. While misinformation can often get mixed in with the actual truth, there is a great amount of guidance that social media has made available. One instance that sticks out the most is the addition of a COVID-19 Response segment that has been added to Instagram’s Search Page. This page includes the accounts for CDC and WHO, which are two large organizations, that have taken on the brunt of information delivery during the pandemic.
Altogether, social media has largely been impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic. It is easy to say that the effect social media has had on connectivity to communities will permanently change the way we communicate with others, and help to minimize the divide between generations, and their usage of social media. This is a lasting effect that will probably continue to strengthen past this pandemic. It has offered an escape to so many, when it feels like there is so little to do, or that can be done. The vast amount of communities available to people on social media helps to offer this escape from the real world, and can affect how people interact with each other. Another issue that has been impacted by social media, and the pandemic, is division caused by the mass-spreading of information. It is fair to say that this large-scale amplification of ideas is going to continue past the pandemic, but it definitely has come to a forefront with current events, because it’s something that so many can relate to worldwide. Overall, social media has formed a sense of community for so many, during a time when people can’t actually be together. This is something that public relations professionals will have to maneuver around in the future and adapt to, as the world of social media is constantly evolving to fit consumer needs.
COVID-19 changed the world in so many ways. People worldwide have to adapt to those changes to perform their normal day-to-day, especially people who are working during the pandemic. As the virus continues to be a significant issue, there’s a whole group of people who are now working from home for the first time. Whether that’s you or you’re looking to help someone strive to keep productivity going out of the office, here’s a few things that might help make the transition seamless and how to stay sane when working remotely.
Make a dedicated workspace
It would be pleasant to work from the comfort of your bed; it’s not the most helpful way to bring out your best work. As a commuter student who did most work in the bedroom, I can tell you this: keep work separate from the bedroom. Your space should serve as a sanctuary that doesn’t contain the stressors of work. Create an area that you can work in that’s separate from the places where you relax.
Keep a schedule
When you no longer have to commute to work, you might find that you don’t have to do the things you’d typically do. It seems alluring to sleep into the last minute before you have to start working, but you wouldn’t make the most of your time. It’s essential to keep to your usual schedule. Wake up early, eat breakfast, workout. You can take the time you spend commuting doing something productive. While it’s nice to sleep in, you’d feel better if you make the most of your time.
Make sure you have the things you need
Working in an office is easy because you already have everything you need. You don’t need to worry about office supplies, printers, internet speed, etc. When working from home, you want to make sure you’re ready to go for the week. Whether you need to increase your internet speed, obtain malware, and antivirus software to secure company information, make sure you have everything you need to make the transition as seamless as possible.
When five o’clock rolls around
At the end of the workday, walk away from work. Go to your sanctuary and relax. You deserve it. It can be easy to overlook the time and work till late, but keep in mind that people will be working from home for an undetermined amount of time. You don’t want to burn yourself out at the beginning of the week. Separate your work life from your personal life as much as you can. As I said above, it’s essential to keep to a schedule, and that means having the time to unwind and rest for the next day. You may find yourself in limbo when you’re working from home, so for your sake, keep a healthy balance between work and life even if your office is in the comfort of your home.