With finals rapidly approaching, Binghamton University students may feel they are lacking the sense of strong emotional bonds, socialization and overall camaraderie that would normally be apparent on campus as classes come to a close. At the end of the semester, we celebrate our accomplishments, attend social events like Spring Fling and support each other during finals week — the final push of the semester before summer break. While finals week is a time of immense stress for students, it also strengthens the bond we have with our friends and fellow classmates as these relationships provide a source of support, relief and even a much-needed laugh.
Unfortunately, many of us may be feeling like this connection has been lost as we retreat into quarantine and continue to exist with minimal human contact. With finals looking very different this year, it is imperative that we continue to maintain a human connection to help us get through this time.
Keeping ourselves connected with people while in quarantine is a struggle, and some may be feeling like they are receding into isolation. Each of us is facing the coronavirus pandemic in our own way, and each of our experiences are unique in how our lives have changed. Students are tasked with the continuation of their education and learning to adapt to an online format. On top of these changes, final exams are still on schedule. Some students may be experiencing a significant decrease in both motivation and academic performance, as well as coping with our personal lives, making this semester’s final exams even more overwhelming. According to a poll on the myBinghamton homepage, 88 percent of respondents, about 4,300 students, feel less motivated now that classes are online. It is critical to acknowledge that we have lost an inherent part of our lives, which is human connection.
Humans are social creatures who rely on social bonds to stay in good physical and psychological health. Individuals who do not have enough social contact with others may become depressed, lose self-esteem and experience a decrease in their ability to learn. Being alone for too long also has physical effects, putting people at a greater risk for developing tumors and dementia. Humans evolved to depend on one another for the sake of surviving in harsh conditions. It has been suggested that these social relationships are what enable us to adapt to stressful situations, ultimately making us more resilient in the face of adversity. Our ability to socialize and maintain these relationships, which are so beneficial to our health, has been severely impeded by the COVID-19 pandemic. With quarantine orders in place, we are no longer able to freely visit family and friends and partake in our usual routine of social activities.
Going forward into exams, we need to set aside time in the day to reach out to friends. Some students may feel like they do not have the time to connect with others because of added responsibilities in their personal lives as well as more assigned work from professors. Sadly, as classes have moved online, not all professors have been as accommodating as others, and they should be reminded that their students need time to take care of themselves, which includes taking time to connect with others.
It is still possible for students to socialize while in quarantine as unusual circumstances call for unconventional solutions. These activities can help boost morale and remind us that we are not alone. Consider video chatting friends instead of just texting or using Snapchat. A study conducted on various forms of communication found that a majority of participants claimed they felt they were able to bond the most with others during in-person interactions, with video chat as a second-best option and the least amount of bonding via texting. Even online gaming can be a fun way to talk to friends live while doing something you enjoy, and may be helpful in reducing feelings of loneliness. It can be easy to get caught up in the monotony of quarantine, essays and final exams, so talking with friends may help students recharge and study more productively.
Social distancing with friends is also an option for safe socialization to lift spirits during finals week. Students with access to a car can drive to a friend or family member’s house and spend some time talking outside while standing far away from each other. This is a great way to get a much-needed break from the books and being stuck in the house, while also having an in-person conversation with someone. If it is not possible to be with them in person, try talking on the phone to catch up while going for a walk on your own. Being outside can reduce stress, improve short-term memory and boost mental energy, which may help students see more success in studying and taking their exams.
Regardless of the ways in which students choose to connect, it is important that we maintain a human connection with others. Finals are adding more stress onto an already difficult time, so keeping in touch with the people whose company we enjoy may be all we need to get us through.
Sophia LoBiondo is a sophomore majoring in political science.