Friends find alternative ways to stay connected during outbreak of COVID-19

Students continue to foster friendships online, despite lack of in-person communication

Hannah Flores, Staff Reporter

three women paddle boarding
Alyssa Buller, along with her sister and her mom, went paddle boarding for Mother’s Day. Buller has been staying connected with friends via zoom, while enjoying outdoor activities with her family. (Photo courtesy of Alyssa Buller)

As the COVID 19 pandemic drags on, individuals are finding it difficult to connect with one another. With limited in person communication, most conversations do not go beyond the latest Netflix craze. 

Seattle Pacific University students like sophomore integrated studies major Alyssa Buller, are going to great lengths to stay connected with their friends. 

For Buller, it is sometimes overwhelming to balance her personal life and academic work, which has caused her to become distant from her friends.  

She said that it has been hard trying to maintain communication with her friends while living off campus but she is grateful for technology that keeps them all connected. 

“I miss campus and I miss being in the physical presence of my friends. We do talk to each other a lot over Facetime or Zoom but I’m excited for the time when we all get to see each other in person again,” she said. 

Buller said that although her roommates from this past year live within a half hour of her, a majority of her close friends call Seattle their home. Buller resides in California, and expressed sadness about being away from her friends. 

Buller considers herself a person who communicates better in person than over the phone which has caused some conflict when trying to stay in touch with her friends in Seattle. 

Communicating with her friends via Zoom and Facetime has posed some challenges for her, as she enjoys quality time with her friends but communicating over the phone has not felt the same as it would being face-to-face. 

With the overwhelming workload of the quarter, it has been hard for students to have time for themselves and their friendships. As for Buller and her friends, they have been intentional about making time to check in with one another. 

“With some of my friends, we plan to meet on Zoom, we pick one day every other week and take time to catch up with each other,” Buller said. 

Buller said that she also has a group of friends who communicate via text throughout the day and will connect with one another over Facetime sporadically, if people are available to chat. 

“When I’m communicating with people, I’m definitely a person who likes physical cues [like body language] so even though we can see each other’s faces, it’s been a little harder to connect,” Buller said. 

She also explained the difficulty of being one to initiate conversations. Being at home as opposed to living on campus, it is easy for her school work to take precedence over her social life.

 Though she enjoys staying in touch with her friends, it has been extremely difficult for her to be mindful of communicating and she regrets that. 

“For me, I’ve noticed that I have trouble initiating conversations, it’s hard for me to reach out and check on my friends and throughout this [lockdown] I’ve realized that I need to be the initiator,” Buller said. 

Although this has been a tough time for connection, Buller looks positively toward the future in which she can be reunited with her friends and spend some quality time with them. 

“My friend group who lives in Seattle wants to take a road trip down to California [after lockdown restrictions are lifted] and visit me, and really get to know about the place where I grew up,” she said. 

In this difficult time of communication, Buller is thankful for the opportunity to show her friends the part of her life at home which they would otherwise not be able to experience. 

Living in Santa Cruz, CA, Buller said there are many aspects of local life that Washington natives do not experience, such as the emphasis on outdoor activities like surfing. 

Buller eagerly detailed her plans for the future and her excitement for being able to share her California lifestyle with her friends. 

“I’m excited to show them my hometown [Santa Cruz] and introduce them to the surf culture around here […] surf culture is something that’s really near and dear to my heart so I’m excited to tell them all about it. 

Buller reiterated the fact that this quarter has been tough but she looks forward to summer, and has hope for returning to campus in the fall. 

“This has been a tough time, but it’s going to make the return to campus so much better. I can’t wait to be back in Seattle and be around my friends, and have some more social interaction,” she said.