How to Make Friends during a Pandemic

four sophomores outside U. Heights

Making friends during a pandemic can be tricky (and maaaaaybe just a little awkward).  Even for us who have a little friend-making-experience under our belt! While we all hone epic ‘smizing’ skills, we figured we’d try to share out ways to best that COVID connection – so we polled your peers and distilled it down to some of your best ideas for how to start a lasting friendship.

First things first – remember that friendships are formed – not found! There’s no fast-lane to friendship; and feeling alone or disconnected is completely normal as you start to rebuild your network. It takes time.  This Soul Pancake video really resonated with us, and it’s a good primer for all the activities we’ve aggregated below.

Phew. Now that you’ve got that down, here’s a round-up of what folks just like you shared (thank you!). Happy friending! 😃


student playing a guitar outside


We live in Vermont. ‘Nuff said (but we’ll say more anyway). Campus is beautiful, Burlington is close by and there’s lots of ways to be together, socially distant and while enjoying the great outdoors. Here’s some great outdoor activities to get you going (and a great blog post to ensure you stay safe):

  • Stargazing – bring your blankets outside, wear masks, and stay six feet apart while watching the stars! BTV’s ‘light pollution’ isn’t terrible – so on a good night you can catch up on some awesome astrology. Everyone can bring their own snacks, etc and it’s perfectly safe!
  • Hammocking – Self explanatory. There are so many awesome spots to pop-up some hammocks both on and off campus. Hang out for a good chat and an even better nap.
  • Explore BTV – Take a trip ‘Down the Hill’. There’s lots happening throughout the week that’s safe to check out with some friends. Swing by farmer’s market and Artists Market every Saturday, then try some food at a new restaurant and/or thrift shop at a new store. Swing through the waterfront and take a walk on the bike path. You can even rent a bike from Local Motion or check out a Green Bike and explore the whole stretch.
  • Hiking – Local hikes like Centennial Woods or Rock Point (along the bike path) are awesome hiking trails you can get to on-foot (honorable mention to College street which always pops up on in our yearly poll for ‘best hike’). Travel a little further out to places like Mt Philo, Camel’s Hump, and Beyond – or explore some hidden hikes.
  • Make Art (If you have supplies) – go outside and do some art with friends! Or, make some music together outside or in common spaces. Bond over your creative outlet; old-school style. Keep an eye out for events hosted by folks like the Arts & Creativity Learning Community and the Art Club.


students studying at amphitheater


Whether your classes are online or in-person, classmates are always potential friends. Here are ways to bond over your mutual of pursuit knowledge (or you know…attempt to pass that chem exam).

  • Make a Study buddy on Navigate. Step one? Get Navigate: Step two, connect with a study buddy on the subject of your choosing. Step three, meet! Done!
  • Pop into Class Early – get to know others by going to class (or tuning in to your virtual class) early and saying hi! The best casual convos can be had in the 10 minutes leading up to the main event. If you’re in a virtual class, keep your camera on for a sec so you can chat ‘face-to-digital-face’.
  • Do Homework Together – Set-up in common rooms or outside and do your assignments together. Sometimes the company is enough to solve your social problems AND your math problems all at once.
  • Make a Lunch Date – ask folks if they want to get lunch after a lab or class, this usually leads to more lunches and exchanging your social deets.
  • Speak up – Take it from some major introverts, speaking up in class can be scary – but it’s almost always worth it. But if you make the first leap others will follow and you’ll all be warmed up to chat before or after class.


a laptop with images of bob ross painting on them


Random fun can bring people together, so if you’ve got an idea, put it out there and see what happens. In our experience – Catamounts are some epic weirdos, and most our down for a bit of random fun. Share your ideas out and start gathering folks down to try it out – or notice someone else’s idea, take a risk and jump in.

  • Manhunt – To the roommates who started the game of manhunt on-campus this semester – can we be friends? This might be our favorite idea from those submitted to us. So simple, so easy, and so socially-distant. Post your game details on the whiteboard on your reshall door (or submit your game to our calendar). Set the rules, times, and general location – then just go out and play. Easy!  The folks who submitted this idea started with five volunteers as hunters (marked with orange ribbons/clothes) and ran a few games gathering more folks as they went along.  Hey, Manhunt crew – invite us next time; M’kay?
  • Bob Ross Painting Nights – Similar to the Art suggestion above; fire up Netflix (or Youtube), grab some friends, and gather your supplies to see who can paint the happiest little bush.
  • Make a Get to Know you Kahoots – Kahoots is a game platform that makes it easy to create, share and play games or trivia quizzes in minutes. Folks then share the link out and people can follow along and/or participate on their phones (kind of like Jackbox). Make one for yourself. Make one for your floor, Residence Hall, College, or anyone at UVM. See who thinks a lot like you.

Speaking of which…Did you know that ANYONE (yes, that means you) can submit an event to our calendar? Organizing a game of Manhunt? Setting up your own Kahoot game? Let us help you broadcast it by adding it to our calendar. Go ahead and put an something out there and see who shows up!


screenshot from the game among us


Gather round gamers. There are plenty of opportunities to jump online or in-person around campus and online. UVM is known for its outgoing, outdoorsy folks – but there are plenty of peeps down to hike the hills of Minecraft and compete in a legendary league.  We’ve also got a gamer directory you can add your info to – or explore other catamounts looking to squad up.

Here’s a few more gaming suggestions folks had:

  • Play with the UVM Gaming Guild. UVMGG is an official UVM club, and they play multiple times throughout the week. Pick a time, pop-in, and play.
  • Start a weekly Board Game Night. Nothin’ cheesy about lil’ Parcheesi.
  • Play Some Cards. Bond over some Poker or get started with Go Fish. Who are we to judge. You can do this virtually using io.
  • Speaking of Cards… Cards Against Humanity. Nothing breaks the ice like bonding over your shared dark humor.
  • Watch Ice Hockey Games. Check out their schedule and distance in the gut while watching the team shred some ice.
  • Dungeons & Dragons. Start (or join) a weekly D&D campaign (or your favorite RPG). You can even do this virtually using Roll20 to set-up and run your campaign. A lot of folks submitted this idea; you just need to find your peeps!


a student sitting in a window at a laptop drinking coffee


We love the extroverts out there who are willing to strike up a conversation with strangers. Keep doing that (you know how you are)!  But, if that feels like a stretch for you, maybe these ideas are just what you need to stretch beyond your comfort zone and see what happens:

  • Community Meals – Make your meals more interesting by sitting at the “community” table when going to the dining halls. Many submittees found it to be a fun way to spontaneously get to know someone – and maybe make a friend!
  • Grab a Bite – Reach out to folks on your floor or in your class and see if they want to grab a bite. Once you’re committed, you’re sort of obligated to chat for a set amount of time – and who knows what you’ll find out. You can even do this virtually! It’s like a friend-date. Or real date. Or bro-date. Meal date? Who wants to make a will-you-eat-food-with-me-like Tinder app? Seems like an untapped market.


Students doing yoga in the davis center distanced


Campus Rec has so. many. Programs. As you can see on our calendar. Let’s break down your options:

  • Intramurals – this is where you sign up ahead of time and are on a team competing against another team (free agents, welcome). Think: soccer, kickball, spikeball, pickleball, cornhole, etc. There are even e-sports options for the gamers out there.
  • Drop-In Sports these happen nightly, and you can sign up to play.
  • Group Fitness in-person and remote options available. If you like yoga, Zumba, kickboxing or classes like these, check it out.

And, for DIY exercise, here’s what folks shared:

  • Do yoga outside on the green. Invite others to join you!
  • Schedule campus gym time with friends.
  • Take some socially distanced walks (see trips to the waterfront above).
  • Go skateboarding. Plenty of spots on campus – or even at the A_Dog Skatepark along the water.


hands holding a phone watching instagram live


Clubs and orgs got a later start than usual this year because every single one had to submit and receive an approval for their new operations plan to UVM. This means more and more club opportunities are coming online each day! It’s never too late to reach out and join a club – find them on the UVM Clubs Directory and reach out to the contacts listed for the clubs you’re interested in.

  • Join a Club Meeting/Event – you can pop-in and get to know folks. Both in-person and remotely! Bonus getting involved in a club – you already know you have a common interest. Ice-breaker done!

For fun throughout the week, UVM Program Board (note: not the same folks as us) and Student Life have you covered. Keep your eyes peeled for:

  • Cats at the Movies – In a normal year this program gives you a ticket to see a movie of your choosing at the Roxy downtown; but because of COVID Student Life is running movies right here on campus. Grab a ticket and catch a flick in the DC!
  • Grocery Bingo – UPB and UVM After Dark run a virtual Grocery Bingo every month! Connect with others in smaller groups AND play to win some snackage. Yum.
  • Virtual Pub Quiz – Ask some folks to start a team (or join UPB’s) and play along on instagram every Wednesday night. Great MCs and epic bragging rights abound.

And, don’t forget that Civic Engagement has a weekly newsletter with volunteer opportunities in Burlington and beyond. You can sign up here. It’s a great way to meet new people and explore the community.


a student sitting along in his room on his laptop


Home is where the hall is… and, with the no-guest policy common rooms come in handy for meet-ups with new or potential friends. Some common-space connection suggestions are:

  • Watching shows and movies. Creating mini viewing parties in public spaces lets other folks jump in. Wanna watch the office for the 100th time? Yes please.
  • Hosting a game night. Everything from Jackbox to Fallguys.  Anyone Play Among Us? Cuz you all seem pretty sus to us.
  • Study Sesh. You don’t have to be in the same class to help each other learn.  Sometimes an independent party is all you need to cram for that test.

But still meeting folks is hard – even in the halls. Here are some ways you can get connected to the folks who are living around you:

  • Start an LC GroupMe, Instagram or submit your event to UVM Bored – then share the deets/link/handle in your hall using whiteboards, sticky notes, etc. You could even make a “get to know me” paper for your door with the contacts you want folks to hit you up on.
  • Knock on doors! It’s always nice to know your neighbors or have someone to get food with. Everyone is in the same boat, looking for someone to talk to and be around, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! Chances are you’ll meet someone great! If peeps don’t want to meet…they won’t answer their door. Oh well.
  • Put your number, Teams Name, or insta handle on a card and slide it under people’s doors. Everyone likes a little mystery. “Do you like me? Yes or No?” is optional.
  • Leave your door open if you’re home. Be yourself. Play some music. The people will come.
  • Decorate your dorm door! Let people get to know your personality by putting it on display – literally.

Phew, that’s a lot of ideas…and it’s probably only the start of all the new ways folks are figuring out to connect in this wonky year.  As always – we’re here to help. If you have something to add, leave a comment below – or send a note to [email protected].

You’ll always have a friend in us.