Credit: File Photo | Mustang News

With Cal Poly’s first all-virtual quarter underway, many students will not see each other face-to-face for a while. However, miles of distance have not stopped them from finding creative ways to stay connected beyond Zoom and FaceTime.

Watching movies

Comparative ethnic studies junior Athena Cole said she uses Netflix Party to host virtual movie nights with friends. The free app is available to all Chrome users, offering a sidebar that allows friends to chat and upload screenshots, emojis and GIFS. 

“This is an activity people don’t have to show their face for, compared to Zoom,” Cole said. “It can allow for introverts and extroverts to have a space that can accommodate their personality types.” 

Cole said Netflix Party is one of the ways she stays connected with her Delta Gamma sorority sisters, allowing them to share laughs, commentary and emotional moments while watching different movies.

“Simple activities like this can promote a sense of togetherness to allow sisters the ability to understand we can still connect virtually and feel the love,” Cole said.

If users still want an even stronger sense of togetherness, they can always FaceTime or use another service on the side.

Playing cards

Political science sophomore Austin McLellan said he and other members of Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity play digital games of Cards Against Humanity through the app Evil Apples.

McLellan said social distancing can bring down his mood but that playing cards once or twice a week helps him feel busy and entertained.

“[Other players] become the highlights of my day when I’m able to interact with them, because it’s something that makes me feel like things are normal, like I’m back at Cal Poly,” McLellan said.

Beyond Cards Against Humanity, allows up to six friends to play card games such as Go Fish, Crazy Eights and checkers. Users manually deal, move and discard cards and can only see their individual hand of cards.

Video chat and games

Some students are turning to Houseparty, a “face-to-face social network” allowing multiple people to video chat, according to the App Store. Opening the app alerts friends that a user is “in the house” or available to chat. It also has a Heads Up! game add-on for playing virtual games of charades. Houseparty is available on iPhone, Mac, Chrome and Android devices. 

The Squad app is a free way to screen-share while video-chatting with friends. It enables real-time shared experiences of Youtube videos, TikTok feeds and live stream concerts for groups of up to six people. is a free multiplayer online drawing and guessing game resembling Pictionary. Each round, a player has 80 seconds to draw a chosen word, and others must guess it to gain points. The person with the most points by the end wins.

Cole said can bring out her and her friends’ “competitive natures” when playing on Zoom together.

“It’s a fun way to feel connected and close the distance between our friend group, especially when we are all in different places,” Cole said.

Listening to music 

JQBX is free on the App Store and Google Play and available to sync up with Spotify accounts. According to its website, JQBX, pronounced “jukebox,” lets users “be a DJ, join a party or just kick back and listen to music with friends.” Users can vote on a currently playing song and communicate while listening to music with friends.

Meeting new people 

For students who might miss their friends, enrollment in the Zoom University sets up pairs on virtual double dates. Every night at 8 p.m. PST or 11 p.m. EST, ZoomU texts users a custom link for a meeting.

ZoomU is not affiliated with Zoom, but is a social dating service run by three University of Southern California students. According to its website, it has since attracted more than 5,300 users from 70 colleges.

The service allows users to “crack some jokes, cry about the quarantine or maybe fall in love,” according to its website.

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