Undergraduate students in the School of Physics and Astronomy run the “To Infinity and Beyond” Discord server, open to all to maintain a strong community during the months of lockdown.
For many of us, learning how to communicate and maintain friendships in a virtual world is a relatively new experience, with many hours of formal lectures and meetings via Zoom and MS Teams. What’s missing is a place to unwind and relax after a long day, to share a coffee or a meal with friends, to play games and watch TV. The buzz of the coffee room in the School, the hum of the foyer and corridors between lectures, and the noise of the cafes over lunch – we’re all missing these normal experiences.
The virtual world can never fully replace them, but it can help. Postgraduates and Undergraduates from across the School have been using Discord as a way to keep in touch, via live chat and video. From chill-out rooms to study groups, from movie-nights to space news, from shared gaming to simple swapping of memes and gifs, the possibilities are endless. Discord – which has grown over the past five years since it started our as a social gaming platform – is freely available via the web, or as an app, and we want to make sure that all are welcome and can join in!
Physics undergrads Francis Watts, Peter Dines and Rhys Newland have been managing the “To Infinity and Beyond” Discord server over the past few months, and want to stress that it’s open to all. This started last year when the undergrads met at one of our ‘Firm-Offer Holder’ weekends, and has grown into a thriving online community.
How to Get Involved
An email invitation will shortly be sent our across our School, and when you log in you’ll see a #welcome section that will serve as a starting point.
This #welcome section is where people can read the #rules of the Discord server. You can click on #role-select and use reactions to identify your role (e.g., year group, among other things) so that you can access specific ‘rooms’ – for example, first-years would be able to access first-year channels, but not hop over to third-year channels. These year-group-specific channels (text and video) are ideal if you’re more comfortable in smaller groups. From there, feel free to wander into any of the corners of the server, and get inspired to gather with your friends.
Our student societies, #PhySoc and #AstRoSoc have their own sections automatically linking to their Twitter feeds, and there’s even a #physics-and-astro-blog channel to keep up with the news from this blog.
So why not give it a try? Set a time to meet, and join the Discord server (via the email – if you don’t receive it, contact email@example.com). No one wants to feel isolated right now, so please watch out for one another, and encourage others to get involved.