By Nadya Dimitrova

With all the craziness going on and some of us feeling overwhelmed by the situation, Dr Nikos Gkotsis from the Department of Politics has set up a couple of Zoom activities for students to enjoy and to keep their spirits up. The two virtual meetings are feeding into a bigger project, which set the goal to increase student engagement through social media. 

I know how insane this whole new world seems to people. We all had to adjust to a new lifestyle and accept the fact that for some time, we will not be hanging out with our friends at our favourite café or bar. But thanks to Dr Nikos Gkotsis, whose work now includes figuring out ways to turn department activities into digital events, coffee talks and arts & crafts workshops are definitely not cancelled. And it is one of the best things to have happened to the students after the iconic Politics Ball. Every Tuesday and Wednesday until the end of the Easter break is dedicated to students connecting with each other over a cup of good coffee. Why, you might wonder? I have you covered, so here is what you need to know.

Tuesdays are now marked as the days when the ‘Recalibrate Café’ will be taking place, and it is a great initiative to look out for. From 11am to 1pm (UK time), students will get the opportunity to share with our peers what worries us and to get the friendly support we all need. After all, when the world just gets too much, we have each other’s backs. In Nikos’ words, this is a chance for all of us to get the negativity out and find our zen through sharing our troubles in a safe space, surrounded by the people we’ve shared everything with for the past few years. I mean, how great is that? We have been connected and united by our similar struggles during our time in university but to share this chapter with each other is more valuable than any university degree can provide us with. This café over Zoom shows the student body that we are no further away than a few clicks and you can connect with friends and have coffee without having to leave the comfort of your own space. The initiative really demonstrates that social media and the virtual space can be used for good and can have a positive impact on people’s lives. And the good thing is that the ‘Recalibrate Café’ is not the only time you can get involved. This brings us to the next part of the ‘Café a la Zoom’, as Nikos calls it.

On Wednesdays we wear pink! No, not really, but you are welcome to join in on the ‘Crafty Wednesday’ sessions wearing whatever colour you fancy. The session feeds into the Instagram hashtag that the social media ambassadors started: #WhatToDoWednesday? So, if you are unsure of what you can do during your stay at home, Nikos has you covered. Every Wednesday, between 11am and 1pm (UK time), we can all get together and discuss new and interesting ways of creating. It is also a space to share your favourite movies, books, journals and music to expand each other’s horizons. And some of you may pause at the question of why we need this if we can’t maintain the same levels of productivity. I think it is an absolutely valid question. The reason why this session is put in place is to provide all of the student body with a number of ways through which we can channel our negative thoughts and turn them into something positive. If you need to fill in some hours during your break or want to escape negative thoughts, the arts and crafts sessions can help you with that. Drawing, painting or just silly dancing in your bedroom to some new music can make your mood better and boost your energy levels. And all that after 2 hours of talking to friends over a cup of coffee on Zoom. Who wouldn’t want to join?

So, if you want to start your morning with your friendly neighbourhood Greek, as Nikos refers to himself, and some friendly faces, go check your emails for the Zoom link. If you are in a different time zone, you are welcome to join the sessions with whatever drink you fancy and have some fun with friends. All of us are definitely missing those days on campus when we would hang out and have a laugh, and these sessions are the perfect solution for the separation anxiety we are all experiencing. Mark your calendars, everyone, and join in every Tuesday and Wednesday at 11am for coffee and a chat. And if you are bored during the rest of the week, keep an eye out for everything that the Politics social media ambassadors are doing. Stay positive and don’t forget that we are all here for each other. 

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