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A Socially Distant Spring Break

Kaitlin Resler
Spring break 2020? We’re in it, but for much of our community, current events called for a change of plans that involves less vacation and more field trips to the sofa to bother the family pet. It’s hard to tap into a feeling of togetherness when the distance is so tangible and we spend hours scrolling through a cycle of difficult news, with little shift in tone. Yet, in true ‘gaudet patientia duris’ style, there are gleams of goodness to be found in our virtual world! We’ve compiled some suggestions pulled from several corners of the internet for some socially distant spring break activities. Read on for links (a lot of links) and resources.

Art, Music, Theater
Various museums have made their collections accessible through virtual tours and activities. You can visit the Palace of Versailles (and if you want to really get into the late 18th century theme—and who wouldn’t—you can design your own wig with the Victoria and Albert Museum’s tool), the Tokyo National Museum, the Archives of African American Music and Culture, and plenty of other museums through the Google Arts & Culture resource. Many of these institutions, like the Louvre, also offer their own online tours. While these can be perfectly enjoyable as solitary endeavours, like Google Street View, there are still ways to make the experience part of real life by recreating these trips virtually.

Design your own wig at the V&A Museum website.

The Metropolitan Opera is offering a nightly stream (for free) of performances while the house is dark. Updates on the shows and links to the stream are found on Twitter. These performances began on March 16, with Bizet’s Carmen, and have featured Puccini’s La Boheme (which this year’s field trip to The Met saw in October), Verdi’s La Traviata and Il Trovatore, Puccini’s Turandot and currently, an all-Wagner week. Visit www.metopera.org to or use the Met Opera on Demand apps for your device of choice to watch. 

NPR has posted a document of musicians who are taking to streaming platforms and playing live for their fans. Updated daily, the list reflects new shows with links added to platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Many artists are archiving their performances, so if you miss one, it’ll be there for later. 

Movie Night
The Google Chrome browser extension Netflix Party can help you host a virtual movie night! Gone are the days of counting down to hitting play and hoping someone in the group doesn’t have a lag. This app lets multiple users sync and watch movies together (and chat in a window on the side). A simultaneous Google Hangout will let you watch with your friends and pretend you never left the dorms. Of course, Discord also offers yet another way to watch: you can broadcast a movie from your computer, and other people in the voice chat with you can watch and react to it in real time.

Games, video and otherwise, are of course a staple of the socially distant life, but there are a few that might offer a break from the usual kind. DnD nerds can still get together (or maybe now is the time to try!) by using Roll20, a web platform that offers a virtual tabletop experience.

And while this week feels like the opposite of that one week when Pokemon Go came out in 2016, the game developers have made some adjustments in light of COVID-19 that make it easier to find more creatures in your backyard and around the house (visit ‘individual settings’ in the app to activate the adjustments). 

If you made a promise to yourself to read more books this year, audiobooks are a great way to get through that list while doing chores, rearranging the living room, or going on a walk in a local park (with a six-foot stick to make sure you’re maintaining adequate distance). Resources such as Libro.fm have agreed to donate 100% of sales to local bookstores such as Market Block Books and The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza. Of course your local library can also help you find books with apps likeLibby for iPhone and Android, orOverdrive.

Jennifer Ehle, of Pride and Prejudice (1995) fame, is reading the novel live on her Instagram. As of today, she’s reached chapter 16 but you can find the earlier chapters on YouTube.

The McElroy family has their favorite dad reading The Hobbit daily, in a series called Stories From Your Gaffer.

There has never been a shortage of resources on the internet for workout videos, but there are a few sources that are offering classes for free now that their brick and mortar spaces are shuttered. DownDog has made all of their apps free until April 1st for everyone, with an extension till July 1st for all students, teachers, and healthcare professionals. CorePower yoga has also opened up many of their online classes for free.

If you do venture out on a six-foot away from everyone outdoor activity, go rainbow hunting. #518RainbowHunt will show you the ways people in the Capital Region are participating in this country-wide effort to bolster the mood from their windows (if you don’t want to go looking, participate by making your own)!

And of course, if you get really antsy, you can always coerce your family into trying the #BlindingLightsChallengeon TikTok. 

Voice Memos
Voice notes—via Facebook, WhatsApp, iMessage, whatever platform you choose—can be a vehicle of great joy. Yes, there are snapchats and instagram stories, but these are somehow different. Shorter than a phone call, easier to produce than text, without the distraction of a screen. If you have a thought for a friend, try the voice memo instead of a text for a change of pace. 

What’s keeping you busy over break? We would love to collect your images, videos, and suggestions for staying occupied while social-distancing and preparing for the rest of the semester!

It feels strange knowing that we won’t all be returning to campus after break, but as physically distant as we are, we’re also closer than ever: experiencing much of the same new strangeness together. 
    • A snowy spring campus photo from Residential Faculty member Lindsey Stapleton

    • #518RainbowHunt

    • Communications gets used to remote meetings!

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