Under normal circumstances, one would say to get more involved in on-campus activities or meet up with classmates for lunch. However, COVID-19 has put up more barriers for students and how they experience college. Clubs, Greek life, and extracurriculars were all put on hold for incoming Bulls at USF this fall and spring. Here are three things to enhance your off-campus housing experience while at USF during COVID-19 times.
Take advantage of the virtual world:
While you probably are fed up with zoom meetings after a synchronous semester, you shouldn't shy away from virtually joining college clubs. It may not give you the same sense of community as in-person meetings, but there are plentiful activities that can compensate.
Try to join campus clubs that you know are active. Most of the time, these college clubs' leaders host virtual events and gatherings such as Netflix watch parties or even TikTok challenges. Joining these clubs are the best way to have a direct connection to campus, at least virtually. Making these connections early on makes way for a smooth transition to in-person meetings once they are readily available again.
Meet with roommates:
Before COVID-19, roommate bonding would be occasional because of scheduling, time management, and school workload. Now more than ever, as college students are confined to their USF apartments, roommate bonding is essential. There's no better time to take advantage of roommate bonding since these are the few people you can freely spend time with and not worry too much about contracting covid-19.
Plan event nights to spice things up in the apartment. Perhaps you and your roommates can enjoy your version of a bake-off or maybe a game night full of those nostalgic board games. For those nights where it may feel like cabin fever may be getting the best of you, go out for a late-night drive down Fletcher Ave while jamming to your favorite songs. Creating a strong bond with your USF apartment roomies lays down the foundation for the college experience.
Explore outside of USF:
Speaking of leaving the apartment, take advantage of the bountiful flora that USF has to offer. Look for hiking trails, biking trails, or parks near your USF apartment to get that needed breath of fresh air. Eureka Springs Park, located near the Tampa Executive Airport, makes for a great hiking trail and is even pet friendly.
Typically, USF students remain in the campus bubble and rarely stray off into Tampa. Hiking trails and parks are perfect for early morning adventures to take your mind off your synchronous lectures and online work. Perhaps you and your roommates could plan a picnic with an Instagram worthy charcuterie board, or you could inhale the scenery of Eureka Springs' botanical garden. While it may not be a part of the traditional college experience, exploring outside of USF makes you more of a seasoned local.
COVID-19 has put up barriers for college students in the past nine months. Uncertainties, anxiety, and heavy workload make for a gloomy mood coming into the semester. Yet, roommate bonding, joining clubs, and even getting out of your USF apartment to take a walk in the park bring a bit of light to a dark situation.