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As a strange new year begins, students make resolutions and find ways to celebrate responsibly

By relying on family and Zoom, Duke students found ways to responsibly celebrate New Year’s Eve while making resolutions for the year ahead. 

First-year Caroline King had to cancel her trip to Malibu, California, so she contacted friends and extended family and hosted an online New Year’s party instead. 

“We all watched a livestream of the ball drop in Times Square,” King said. “Having all of my loved ones together virtually was still really fun as we all counted down, so I’m thankful there were chances to participate in annual traditions in a modified way.”  

Experiences like this one—small, unexpected gifts—have influenced King’s New Year’s resolution. 

“This past year really taught me how to be thankful. I want to cherish the little things and live more in the moment. The pandemic showed how important that is,” King said. 

Like King, other students adjusted their original plans to the contours of the global pandemic. 

To celebrate the new year, first-year Amanda He often travels and celebrates with large gatherings. This time around, she stayed home and spent time with family. 

“We decorated gingerbread houses, drove around looking at Christmas lights, and made lots of hot chocolate,” He said. “These traditions are so important to feel connected with each other after such a hard year. I think that the new year gives everyone a bit of hope and motivation for a fresh start, so it was really refreshing to still celebrate the holidays.” 

As she reflected on 2020, she realized that the disruptions in her normal life have helped her understand the importance of prioritizing self-care.

“This year, I want to have some slack and not be so hard on myself. This includes focusing on things just for fun. I’ve always wanted to learn how to play the guitar, so I hope to pursue little interests like that,” He said. 

Like He, sophomore Dominic Jeong used Zoom to connect with his loved ones during New Year’s.   

“I usually visit my mom’s side of the family and celebrate New Year’s with them, but because of the pandemic, we had to celebrate with each other over Zoom. I still got to eat tteokguk—Korean rice cake soup—and galbi—Korean short rib—at home though,” he said. 

Jeong said that reviewing the past year has helped him better form his goals for 2021.  

“My new year’s resolution isn’t anything quantifiable, but I hope to put my health—both physical and mental—as a priority rather than as something expendable,” he said.  

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