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Tips for a better social life abroad during Coronavirus

Mar 18, 2021 by Monica Garcia

The Coronavirus has affected every aspect of our lives, especially our social life. However, just because we need to keep a physical distance doesn’t mean we should be socially isolated! Strengthening existing relationships and reaching out to others is crucial right now for our mental and emotional well-being. If you plan to or are moving abroad soon, you will have to spend your first weeks or months finding alternative ways to connect with new people and socialize in corona-safe ways. But thankfully, there are many options to do so. Even if it will be slightly trickier, it is still possible to meet your colleagues at work or make new friends!

Two friends outdoors under coronavirus

Opt for outdoor activities

The risk of Coronavirus transmission seems to be the highest when people are in close contact with each other in indoor environments. Therefore, many public gatherings have been canceled early on, and most countries have recommended or mandated a two-meter distance rule and the use of facemask in public. However, outdoor activities are still deemed safe (or safer) as long as you follow the recommendations and don’t go against any regulations. For example, avoid crowded places or invite less than five people to your place.

Some outdoor activities that you can do with friends to stay social and get a change of scenery are to go on daily or weekly walks, preferably in nature. Being out in nature is a great way to decrease your stress and gain energy, and it’s easier to stay socially distanced this way. So grab your facemask and meet a friend for a physically distant walk around the park!

Some other options include:

  • Exercise outside - lace up your running shoes or create a training program with exercises that are outdoor-friendly. The combination of fresh air and moving your muscles will be an instant mood booster.
  • Go rollerblading - switch it up by changing your walking shoes to a pair of skates. This is an excellent time to learn how to rollerblade, skateboard, or go ice skating if you have an ice rink in your new country. There are often places where you can rent the equipment needed.
  • Try a new activity - rock climbing or kayaking might not be the first thing you think of, but they are great fun and excellent outdoor activities to try with some new friends!  
  • Have a picnic - when meeting your friends outdoors, you are allowed to meet in groups. However, make sure to check the regulations in your country regarding how many you can be. If you are all healthy, you can meet up outside and bring some food to have a nice picnic. 
  • Explore your surroundings - take this time to explore some new routes during your regular walks. You could end up seeing some beautiful parts of your city that you would have never seen otherwise. Another option is to rent a bike or a car to explore places a bit too far from where you live. 
Friends having a picnic

Explore available indoor activities with your social bubble

Depending on what country you relocate to, there can be indoor activity options available. Many countries have started to open up their gyms, cinemas, and museums, for example. You are free to explore these options as long as you follow the set restrictions like wearing a facemask and respecting that there might only be a certain number of people allowed to go in.  

You might also have heard the expression of "social bubble" or a Coronavirus bubble. A "social bubble" is a group of people you can spend time with both outdoors and indoors. Create this bubble by agreeing with a few people that you will only meet them and follow protective measures so that you can safely interact or socialize together. The goal of having this "social bubble" is to avoid the virus but still having a group of people to interact and spend time together. 

There are also a lot of things you can do from the comfort of your home, if you have to spend time in quarantine, follow curfews, or have long periods of self-isolation, for example.  

  • Cooking and baking - work on your skills in the kitchen! Try to make some new dishes and explore new recipes. 
  • Learn the language of your new country - take a language course, download an app or start reading entry-level books in that language. Your future “you” will be thankful for that.
  • Read a course or take some classes online - alongside your new job - strengthen your resume by studying online.
  • Read books - reading is a great way to immerse yourself in another world for a while. Look up recommended and classic books that you have to have read in your lifetime. 
  • Write a blog about your new adventure - it’s always nice to document what you are going through and it’s fun to have and to be able to look back on it in a few years.
  • Practice knitting - it’s always fun to try something new! Why not try knitting and make a hat for next winter? 
woman sunbathing at home

Take advantage of video calls

One of the reasons many are stuck at home is because offices introduced a "working from home" policy during 2020. Many people who have experienced working from home during this pandemic have witnessed that the thing they miss the most is the social aspect of having coworkers around. Going from a vibrant and buzzing office to working alone in your apartment can affect your mental health more than you think. Since the pandemic started, many of the social moments with colleagues have been limited to weekly meetings and occasional chat conversations, but that does not have to be the case. 

If you usually have coffee with your colleagues, you can introduce a digital coffee. Take a 10-minute break and chat about your day and how you are doing. Thanks to the many video chat platforms, you can also call someone you usually have lunch with and have your lunch break together. Video calls are the most suitable way of socializing if you are self-isolating, both for and outside working hours.

video call with colleagues

Keep in touch with friends and family

Apart from making your workday easier by staying in touch with your coworkers, you can also use video calls with your friend group and family. This way, you can eliminate the physical distance and almost feel like you are in the same room again. By scheduling regular check-ins with them, you both have something to look forward to, and it makes the days seem less long or lonely. Plus, it’s a perfect way to avoid feeling homesick

And thanks to technology, there are many ways to spend time together - for example, there are new apps that allow you to play board games, like Pictionary, or other types of games online. Another fun option is Teleparty - a web browser plugin free to download that synchronizes the program you are watching with other people's laptops. You can watch anything together and even have a chat conversation during the show. Almost as good as having a movie night at your place!

Be responsible and use common sense

Just because we need to hold distance doesn’t mean we should be socially isolated. Lack of social interaction can make many feel lonely and even depressed, but by reaching out to others, you will notice that many people share the same feelings, and you can stay strong together

However, after staying isolated for months many are frustrated and are itching to go out and back to their old social lives. But even if some restrictions have eased up a bit, you still need to be responsible. This includes staying inside if you are feeling even the tiniest bit of sick. Having a sore throat or a runny nose can be symptoms of the Coronavirus. Or it could be a common cold. However, don’t risk it. It might seem minor to you, but you don’t want to accidentally infect someone older or someone in a risk group that could develop much worse symptoms!

Try to make the best out of your situation, even though it will sometimes be both frustrating and hard to cope with. But with vaccinations on the rise, it will soon get better. Remember: it is not going to last forever!

Friends greet with their elbow