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#VUathome: Firsthand Stories from Students and Staff: Anusha

Welcome to our series of interviews with students and staff, both here in Amsterdam and around the world. Let's find out how they are doing during these challenging times. Today we read the experience of Anusha, a third-year History and International Studies student.

If mundane things like shopping for plants can make you happy, just do it! Take whatever joy you can get and run with it!

As I hit the submit button on an assignment that I worked on for the last 3 hours, my phone screen lights up in the corner of my eye. A glance is enough to see it’s a fellow student from one of my assigned groups letting us know he’s created a shared Google Drive document for an upcoming presentation we have. Then, another notification pops up. Then, another. And another. I figure it’s time for a study break; my laptop is low on battery anyways. I don’t realise how long I’ve been sitting until I stand up and my legs feel like TV static. My clock tells me it’s almost 6:00pm, but I know my day has only started. Ah, the life of an international online student sure is charming. As I make my way down to my living room, I think to myself, “Maybe I should look into building a battery charger for my brain…”

Hi, I’m Anusha, a born-and-bred-in-the-tropics twenty-one-year-old, who took a long time to get used to the colder, rainier norm in the Netherlands. And just as I was starting to feel comfortable with the idea of biking in the rain, the storm that is Covid-19 swept me off my Dutch bicycle in the middle of March and plopped me right back into the humid heat of Jakarta, Indonesia. I’m sure you’d all nod in agreeance when I say that this year has been, in broadest sense of the word, unpredictable.

Recently, we started the new semester. Same university, same classmates, but on a totally different platform. It’s like a whole new arena. Even though we were prepared for the prospect of going online, it’s still daunting because most of us don’t know what to expect during online classes. Not knowing whether the internet connection will hold throughout the class, or if there’s going to be a power outage, I can say first-hand, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by these uncertainties. The unpredictability of this situation may be insurmountable, but it can be comforting to know that we aren’t alone in this. In my case, because I’m in a completely different time-zone, there is a constant nagging fear that I’ll miscalculate the time-difference and miss a class! Especially since a handful of our professors don’t record their lectures, the fear of missing out becomes all too real in our virtual worlds.

The feeling of solitude may feel overwhelming and inescapable this year, but take some time to reflect and give yourself time to adapt. When we come out of this, we’ll all have a fresh start (and fresh hairstyles!).

This brings me to the ever allusive and fickle concepts of time and space. No, I’m not about to pull an Einstein on you and start explaining relativity. All I’m saying is, even though neither of them feels real anymore because of this ‘new-normal’, time is definitely still passing, and the outside world definitely still exists. It feels so scary to think back to New Year’s and realize how we never expected everything to change in the blink of an eye. This is why when it comes to studying, I find it a lot more relaxing to create my own bubble of space with a cup of tea and a little timer to let me know when to give myself a break. Things seem so much more in control in that little space-time bubble. Do whatever you need to bring yourself that sense of control and calmness in the wake of calamity.

There’s so much to look forward to in the future, despite the fact that its only constant is change. I, for one, can’t wait to see my friends again when I eventually get back to Amsterdam! A huge chunk of time has been taken from our finite time together and we’ve got so much to make up for.



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