People underestimate the power of a group chat. In March, when UT moved classes online and I was pulled away from my freshman year of college, I found myself missing, more than anything, the little things. The daily coffees, study dates, classes, meals, and even chapter meetings with my sisters were suddenly so meaningful, and I ached to have those moments back. I still do. Being suddenly and unwittingly moved back to my home in California and away from the people I’d become so attached to in Austin, I searched for ways to stay connected in every way that I could. Constantly texting and updating the group chat full of my sisters and best friends was just one of the many ways that I have tried to hold onto college and the people who ground me as the world turns on its head.
Social distancing, I have come to learn, is not synonymous with social isolation. In fact, it feels as though it has had an opposite effect. Being unable to be with the people who mean the most to me has given me a new perspective, a refreshed appreciation, for every moment I have had and will get to have with them. Now, every facetime call, every text, every instagram post and snapchat and tiktok sent to each other means so much more.
We are so often made to believe that technology is the enemy, that the internet is evil and ruining human connection, and yet this pandemic has served as a reminder of just how precious connection (whether in person or through a screen) really is. It is because of these online means of contact that I have been able to stay grounded in my best friends. If it were up to me, I would be with my sisters in a heartbeat, but that is sadly not the way the world works. So for now, I’ll take the facetime calls. I’ll take the snapchats. And the tiktoks. The texts, the book recommendations, the virtual study dates and the coffee recipes that just never seem to be quite as good as the espresso machine in the ADPi house.
In the midst of these terrifying times, having these things gives me a sense of sanity that I wouldn’t trade for the world; staying connected with my sisters has proven to be one of the most important aspects of my life in quarantine. If it weren’t for their support, their constant jokes, their daily facetime calls, their impromptu tutoring the day of a midterm, their optimism and geniality, and most importantly, their love, I would be significantly less happy away from UT. I cannot wait for the day that we are reunited, but until then, I will be grateful every day for everything they give me, even two thousand miles away.
Kate is a rising sophomore majoring in Neuroscience and is on a premed track. She enjoys hiking, exercising, cooking, and hanging out with her sisters in her free time.