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5 ways to stay connected during shelter in place

  • University News
  • Students

As students begin a phased return from winter break and enter the University’s shelter-in-place period, you may be looking for ways to stay connected to your friends and the Pitt community. Luckily, the online world plus Pitt’s own programs offer many options for staying close, even when you’re physically distant.

Here are five suggestions from Pittwire student reporter Kendal Johnson.

Jumpstart your January

Begin the year with January Jumpstart events sponsored by Student Affairs. There’s something for everyone on the schedule, from online art meditation to cardio kickboxing and an intro to blockchain and NFTs.

Host an online watch party with friends

Many streaming platforms have released their own ways of watching while apart, including Hulu Watch Party (“Abbott Elementary,” anyone?) and Disney+ Groupwatch (time to see what all those “Encanto” memes are about). The Chrome extension Teleparty also supports many other streaming platforms.

Some of these options have a chat feature, but as a student, you can always combine these options with a Zoom link and make your own movie night.

Attend an artsy Pitt event

Feeling disconnected from the campus community? Lucky for you the Center for Creativity is hosting multiple virtual events this month to keep students engaged while the center’s physical space is closed.

The virtual Open Mic N’at on Jan. 25 at 9 p.m. will be a little bit of everything: Performers are invited to share video creations, poetry, musical recordings, visual artwork and more. The virtual stage is open to all Pitt faculty, staff and students. Plus, all participants will be entered into a raffle to win a $20 Primanti Brothers gift card.

If that’s not your cup of tea, the University’s events calendar is constantly being updated with new activities, forums and more.

Play a game with friends online

Members of the Pitt community have access to Zoom video conferencing, making it easy to connect with others without leaving the house. Assistant professor of English in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and director of Pitt’s Vibrant Media Lab, Zach Horton, shared a few suggestions for games to play during 2020’s shelter-in-place period that still ring true.

“There are a lot of good online games. Not many are properly co-op, but the number one online co-op game happens to be particularly perfect at this moment: Pandemic!”

Another game he suggests as a good icebreaker is Wavelength — “a telepathic party game,” according to its developers.

Finally, Horton suggests an online version of the board game Carcassonne — a tile-based game in which players draw and strategically place their tiles to build a medieval city.

Pitt also has multiple clubs for video and tabletop games for you to join at the end of shelter in place: Find out more at the Spring Activities Fair on Feb. 1.

Look ahead to the semester

Overall, it’s important to remember why you are participating in the shelter in place period: For the safety of your classmates and instructors this semester. Use this time to focus on the term ahead, improve your study skills and learn from those who have been here before you.


— Kendal Johnson