The beginning of a school year is always a little stressful and exciting at the same time. For the majority of students seeing their friends after the summer holidays is the best part of returning to school. But this year, when it remains unclear whether the classes will be online or offline, the reunion might not happen as soon as the students expected.

Indian students and their parents have lived in such uncertainty for a while. The schools and colleges have been closed for several months now. And while everyone hoped to go back to class right from the start of the school year, the Indian government has announced that it’s definitely not going to happen in September. Due to a new surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, the classes probably won’t start in October either.

Some students will take online classes, others won’t, but all of them will be deprived of communication with their peers. In such turbulent times, talking to friends who have the same doubts and worries is more important than ever. Unfortunately, many students will not be able to share secrets in between classes or sit at the back and laugh at their classmates’ jokes this year. That’s why we decided to share with you four tips on how to stay in touch with your friends if your school is closed.

Online Hangouts

Of course, nothing can beat having lunch together or sitting in the schoolyard with your friends after classes. But luckily, we have many technologies that let us see and hear each other even if we are in different cities or even countries. Do you miss hanging out with your friends on the weekends or after school? Do it online: when the classes are over, you can have a call with your friends to discuss the day and the new material. Or set your imagination free and think of something fun: dance to your favorite music, sing a Happy Birthday song, or cook the same meal together.

There are a few apps that enable video calls. Zoom, an app that lets you call 100 people at the same time, has been on the rise lately. It also gives you a chance to change your background and transport yourself to any place you can think of — to your favorite cafe, to a beach, to Paris, or to your classroom. You can also have video calls with up to 10 people on Google Hangouts. The app is available to everyone who has a Gmail account, so you don’t need to install anything else. Of course, nowadays many messengers offer video calls, so you will definitely find a way to call each other.

If your internet connection isn’t good enough for video calls, that’s okay too. Just like your teachers send you video classes, you can make videos for your friends to tell them about your day or show them your cute dog. Who knows, maybe you’ll like it and will become a YouTuber!

New Social Media

We can hardly imagine our lives without social media anymore. With no real-life communication, we spend more and more time with our smartphones that give us a chance to exchange pictures, videos, and voice messages. But when you are stuck at home all day long and nothing interesting happens, it seems like there’s nothing to talk about. So what can we do? Try signing up for social networks you have never tried before or log into the old accounts that you haven’t used in a while. For example, remember ASKfm (More than 450,000 registered users in India)? Just a few years ago many of us loved discussing the questions we got and guessing who could have sent them with our friends. Besides the usual anonymous questions and answers, over the past years, ASKfm has gotten even more features to keep you entertained. Now you can post shoutouts — questions that will be sent out to all the users in your region, or participate in the VIP program and compete with your friends to see who will earn the most coins in a week.

If you can spend hours watching videos on YouTube, perhaps it’s time to create your own channel! Maybe now you’ll finally have the time to edit the video about your last trip with your friends or will find the courage to post that video of you singing your favorite song together. At any rate, a new project will help you stay entertained and will give you a new topic to talk about.

Working Out

Workouts outside have not been banned yet. So if you’re not a person who likes to spend an entire day online, you don’t have to give up your hobbies. Although it’s not the usual walk to school, a morning run with a friend who lives nearby can be a great way to start the day. If you have been meaning to start working out but keep postponing it, now is a great time to do it. To add more excitement to it, agree with your friends that if one of you skips a workout, they lose the bet and have to do something for you.

If the weather isn’t perfect for outdoor workouts anymore, there are tons of online programs that can help you get fit in your own home. You can do the program together with your friends, support each other, or even hop on a video call to work out together.

Movie Nights

Even if the cinemas are closed or one of you got sick, you can still enjoy your favorite movies and shows together. There are a few different ways to do that. If you want to watch something on Netflix, download a browser extension called Netflix Party. The extension will let you send a link to your friends so that they can join your viewing party. When they open the link, they will see what you’re watching and will be able to chat with you at the same time.

In fact, there’s no need to download new apps. You can just decide what you want to watch and put it on at the same time. If you want, you can also hop on a video call or chat in your favorite messenger at the same time. You might need some time to make sure no one starts too early or too late, so that there are no spoilers, but in the end, it will be worth it. And if you don’t want to miss out on the biggest premieres, check out the websites of the cinemas and film festivals — most of them have switched to online content as well.

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