#VUatHome: Firsthand stories from students and staff: Mrudula
Updated: May 1
Welcome to our new series of interviews with students and staff! We have created this series to connect with our students and staff, both here in Amsterdam and around the world, and to find out how they are doing during these challenging times. Say hello to our first student: Mrudula! Stay safe and happy reading!
Tell us who you are and where are you now?
My name is Mrudula and I’m a master’s student studying heritage studies at the VU, Amsterdam. It being a one-year master, I have a very short span of time left as a student. I stayed in Amsterdam at my room since I didn’t want to have any more changes to my daily life or timeline for the future. Going back to India would prove it very difficult to come back even after the pandemic ends. I didn’t want my stint abroad to end so soon and abruptly. My course work and part time job (I can work from home) continues to keep me on toes so I was unbothered for the first two weeks. But then it snuck up on me without a warning, a feeling someone living away from one’s family hates the most: homesickness. You see, Amsterdam, has become my home, the people have helped me make it my home: my flatmates, friends, the canals and omni-present rain. But this pandemic has disturbed my home. I cannot meet my friends, some of my flatmates have already moved back home or are going to move away very soon. I cannot go around the city as I please, so I try to limit myself to walking once a day or so to the nearby village. And of course, messages and calls from friends and family from home poured in asking after my health since they know how badly Europe has been hit.
How is it to study from home? Any tips for other students?
Being productive is hard, as someone already struggling with procrastination and clinical depression, managing studies has definitely become a lot harder. But studying with friends online, or study groups on zoom meetings help. Make a check-list of things you want to do, discuss it with your friends and help each other manage deadlines. Seek help, tell people that you aren’t doing well. In isolation, it’s easy to feel like nobody cares. But the truth is they might be struggling themselves, they might not have imagined how the extent of your problems. So, communicate, even though it may not solve the problem, knowing that people care, and seeing them try to be there for you through any means possible, offline or online, helps. It makes your heart lighter.
What is the first thing you will do when the situation is back to normal?
Once things go back to normalcy, I would like to travel somewhere, alone or with people. I regret not doing that more often in pre-quarantine times. God knows that I am saving up for it. I also want to decorate my place more and cultivate hobbies right now, while I can still get things delivered home. I regret not dolling up my room more in earlier times.
What cheers you up or brings you the most comfort during this time?
I somehow feel that this time period is a litmus test for me, how I deal with it will give me character development. I am trying to channel my feelings into writing. So apart from academics, I am writing for myself which satisfies my soul. I am also reading more than I used to. Reading history related blogs, my friends’ works, cartoons and memes in different languages as a method to learn the language. I am also trying to make my Instagram heritage blog active again. So, I am really trying to hold my own by feeding my creativity. Cooking good food also helps, indulge yourself by trying your hand at new recipes: maybe join the banana bread brigade or dalgona coffee whiskers! Some of my friends are also doing art, photography or making music. Find your pick, try not to watch too much Netflix as being passive can make you feel more depressed and out control than you realise. I wish everyone health and send my love, we will get through this!