Well, it’s been over a month since Middlebury students blew their goodbye kisses to the campus we all love. And with that goodbye, we pressed the pause button on so many of our relationships, close friends and significant others alike. For us, Houseparty group video chats and FaceTime calls to loved ones haven’t exactly been the way we hoped to continue our platonic and romantic lives this spring. Even couples quarantining together might be finding that holing up together isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Alas, it’s love in a time of Covid-19.
Not to fret, though: your Local team has your back. Whether you’re now waiting out a long-distance relationship or are spending time with one another (and only one another), here is a list of our top picks for virtual dates that are as close to their Middlebury equivalents as we could muster.
Middlebury date: Attending a concert in Burlington or the Gamut Room
Quarantine equivalent: Although there’s no great alternative to head-banging to Pinegrove at Higher Ground on a Friday night, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy music with your S.O. Swap mixtapes, listen to new albums together and watch live concerts online. (Ben recommends the Grateful Dead’s One More Saturday Night series, and Hattie recommends NPR’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts). For a list of upcoming concerts and performances, check here.
Middlebury date: Movie night at the Marquis
Quarantine equivalent: Have your own virtual movie night! Use Zoom’s screen sharing option to watch Netflix and each other’s faces at the same time. (Now you can explain to your mother all the “Tiger King” memes that have been popping up on her Facebook feed.) You can also take advantage of free titles offered by HBO, including titles ranging from “The Sopranos” to “Happy Feet Two.”
Middlebury date: A hike up Chipman Hill or Snake Mountain
Quarantine equivalent: If you are still in Middlebury, then this has likely crossed your mind as a way to spend the (increasingly abundant) warm spring days. For the rest of us, taking advantage of the outdoors — following social distancing guidelines, of course — is a go-to option. There’s nothing like a few breaths of fresh air after having been stuck inside for so long.
Middlebury date: Cooking dinner together
Quarantine equivalent: Synchronous cooking! Your S.O. had a recipe they were dying to try? As long as you both have the ingredients, there’s no reason why you can’t cook on either end of a FaceTime call. After working through the recipe together, you can both sit down over the same meal. We recommend trying to whip up a Vermont maple creemee for dessert to feel like you’re back at Shafer’s Market. (And please send us pics of your attempts, whether failed or successful.)
Middlebury date: Browsing books at a local bookstore
Quarantine equivalent: Although the idea of starting a two-person book club might be a little overzealous, picking a book to read together might just be an antidote to our digitally-saturated world. You can even support local bookstores like The Vermont Book Shop by ordering from bookshop.org. Bonus points if you read aloud to each other over FaceTime.
Middlebury date: Going to the Sheldon Museum
Quarantine equivalent: Tour a virtual exhibit of a museum, like L.A.’s Getty Museum look at Renaissance food and drink, the Louvre’s Gallerie de’Apollon ceilings, the Smithsonian’s Natural History guided walk-through, or the National Women’s History Museum’s NASA exhibit. If you’re looking for something closer to Middlebury, you can tour the Middlebury College Museum of Art.
Middlebury date: Attending Middlebury’s Moth-style event, “Cocoon”
Quarantine equivalent: Listen to The Moth online. If you’re looking for more story-based podcasts, try “This American Life.” The podcast just released episode 701, most of which covers non-Covid-related tales. Though they are continuing to produce episodes during the pandemic, Ariadne recommends Episode 419, “Petty Tyrant.” Looking for something more poetic? Poetry Foundation offers both daily poems and weekly podcasts.
Middlebury date: Becoming world travelers by spending a weekend in Montreal
Quarantine equivalent: Become virtual world travelers by exploring places on Google Earth and Google Maps together. Explore sites like Stonehenge and Mount Everest Base Camp, or drop down to streetview and stare at each other’s houses. You can even see some of the world’s wonders by virtually accompanying teams of explorers, hikers and adventurers over the last few years. A list of these virtual excursions can be found here.
Middlebury date: Playing Thursday night trivia (with or without the wine)
Quarantine equivalent: Sporkle, an online trivia platform, is making a comeback. You could also settle back with some good old Trivia Crack, or design your own quiz games through platforms like Kahoot to play with your S.O. or friends long-distance. Bonus points if you play them over FaceTime or Zoom together, and extra bonus points if you get just as competitive.
Middlebury date: Arguing (playfully) over Proc or Ross
Quarantine equivalent: According to Middlebury lore, the game Pancakes or Waffles originated on our very own campus. A would-you-rather-type game, the players are forced to make a series of back-and-forth ultimatums that get progressively wackier. In the spirit of one of Middlebury’s most heated debates — Proc or Ross? — this game will almost make you feel at home.