Overcoming the social divide while remote learning

Learn how three UCalgary students found new ways to 'put themselves out there' during pandemic restrictions and why it was important to them to socialize with their peers.

Was it the small-talk before class began or a casual conversation on the train ride to campus that kicked-off a great friendship in university?

“When asked how did you two meet?”, the exact circumstances are often hard to remember. Most often, how you met is pretty inconsequential - it’s the memories that you’ve shared together between classes, over lunch and in your free time since then that really matter, right?

That’s the case for so many students at university, but at times like these that we’re reminded how that initial meeting is, because without it, there would be no friendship to build.

Circumstances that promote social behavior matter in university are what make friendships possible, and now that’s so much of our time is spent working remotely, it’s more difficult to grow with fewer of those social ‘happy accidents.’ But let’s not despair – change inspires innovation, right? This is also a time in your life where you’re supposed to experiment with new ways of doing old things. It may feel unnatural at first, but why find new ways to meet people as well?

In this interview, we’re going to run through some of the ways that UCalgary students are meeting new people in this era of mixed remote and in-person learning. If their experiences inspired you to try something new, there are weekly drop-in events.

Kami, a UCalgary student

Kamilla, 3rd year student

BComm in Entrepreneurship and Innovation

I met one of my best friends through remote learning. I remember receiving a link for a WhatsApp group chat and being eager to join it. To me it seemed like everyone who was in that group chat was there primarily for class help, which is understandable. However, there was one girl in the group who would always joke around; we had the same sense of humour, which we obtained from TikTok. One day I decided to text her to see if she wanted to form a study group and the conversation had such a natural flow to it. It was effortless. We related on so many levels and bonded over numerous topics.

I believe I can make connections as easily whether it's through remote learning or not. I like to think I'm a very open-minded individual, and that's the core strategy I use when meeting new people. I try to remind myself that just because I'm not used to someone's way of thinking, doesn't mean they're wrong. We all grow up in unique environments and everybody deserves a chance to present themselves to the world. Another strategy I use when meeting new people is being an active listener. I try my best to show people that they are heard.


A strategy that I use when meeting new people is being an active listener. I try my best to show people that they are heard.


David, 2021 graduate

BA’s in Social & Cultural Anthropology and History

I am an introvert, which means the way I socialize is quite calculated: I try to learn which opportunities that I want are available to me, and find more info about it by myself. I attend events which I think will allow me to meet like-minded people. I don’t go out of my way to meet more people when I’ve established a connection with a few, but over the years I’ve learned to step out of my comfort zone since you’ll learn that it will be difficult if you keep staying at the same place.

There’s no better example of this than during the pandemic, where, as much as I thrived being at home, there’s a breaking point there. So as the months went on, seemingly with no end, I had to push myself even more, and actually go out of my way to meet new people, who, I’ve realized, are mostly feeling the same way when it comes to socializing online. Ever the introvert, that reality was my saving grace, because if I was meeting new people for the sake of meeting new people, without the context of a restrictive pandemic, I honestly wouldn’t have done so.

As much as I thrived being at home, there’s a breaking point there. I had to push myself more and go out of my way and to meet new people.


David, a UCalgary student
Naheen, a UCalgary student

Naheen, 1st year

BSc, Computer Science

I would consider myself an introvert. I often find it difficult to initiate conversations with new people and most of the time the conversation trails off into awkward silence. I would usually have to spend quiet a substantial amount of time with a person before I can communicate freely with them. As a result, having to socialize over the course of the pandemic did come with its challenges. However, over the course of the summer, I tried actively taking part in the multiple zoom workshops and socializing events offered by the University.

The idea of socializing over breakout rooms was foreign to us however, and the awkwardness was very apparent. A s we warmed up to the concept though, we were more comfortable with our conversations and went on to form friendships outside of our meetings as well. The best part was being able to finally put a face to the voices I had grown accustomed to once we did return to campus.

Socializing in breakout rooms was foreign to us and the awkwardness was apparent. As we warmed up to the concept , we were more comfortable and formed friendships outside of our meetings.


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