6 tips to conquer quarantine as (exchange) student

Tekst: Per Straume

- Oppdatert

The Coronavirus pandemic developed differently than most of us expected at first. Now that we are facing a lockdown in Norway, several aspects of the daily life are affected. Especially for the exchangestudents everything is different now. Maybe far away from home, surrounded by an uncertain future, and waiting for things to develop, this period can be extremely hard.

This article is written by Erasmus exchange students Tabea Schroff and Silas Ketels from Germany. Amongst other tasks during their stay, they have an internship with the Communication department.

We collected six tips regarding your well-being, socialising during social distancing, and for studying routines.

1. Be gentle with yourself

It is more important than ever to take good care of yourself and your mental health now. Watch yourself and how your mood changes, because you may not be able to handle stress and uncertain developments as well as you think. This may show in anxiety, feeling sad, experiencing changes in your sleep routine or eating habits, developing physical pain symptoms, mood swings, or something else that may appear as a new experience for you.

Every feeling you have about the pandemic and its lockdown consequences is valid. Find your own coping mechanisms for this time. And what works for others, does not automatically have to work foryou. If you want to try new things, read that long ignored book or try a new hobby. Go for it! Now’s the time! You can do all the little things you always brushed off before because you never had the time to do them. However, if you sense you need more time to adjust or if you do not feel comfortable handling the whole situation yet, that is more than fine too! There is nothing wrong with sitting in front of Netflix with candy jar or big tub of ice cream. Everyone handles and shows their emotions differently and you never know how the person is really doing.

Do not put pressure on yourself to achieve a specific level of productivity. Focus on yourself and what
is best for you! You are allowed to grieve the opportunities you are missing out on now.

2. Speak to other people

There are various services from the university if you need someone to talk to. Do not fear talking about
your feelings to others who can relate. Allow yourself to feel frustrated or scared, there is no need to hide that and keep it to yourself.

It might be, that you are experiencing a difficult time regarding your mental health at the moment and isolation can make it even worse. Being surrounded by your own thoughts or anxieties can be too much to stand sometimes. There is no need for shame, when it comes to mental health. Never worry about admitting that you do not know what to do. That’s exactly when you should talk to someone who can offer you help and guidance.

Now is not the time to put pressure on yourself and suffer unnecessarily. Your health is important so take care of yourself and reach out to us if you need something.

3. Build up structure

Give yourself a little bit of structure. This new situation puts a stop to everything that gave us structure before, every habit, every appointment, every meeting with friends. Since structure is what gives us a feeling of a normal everyday life, try to find your own ways to implement a new structure into your days. This can be a regular time when you cook or take breaks from working, or a walk every day, a small workout, or a routine how you normally start your day. Putting on proper clothes, showering, doing your hair or wearing makeup, can also help to feel like you are in a normal structure. We all love our sweatpants, sure, but in order for this situation to feel normal it’s a good idea to keep doing what we would have normally.

You do not need to plan every little detail in order to maximise the work you could get done in one
day, but structure gives us a sense of security and helps feeling better.

4. Socialise – but (please do it) at a distance

We all need to connect with others, talk about what bothers us and especially now, we need all the possibilities to have some fun! Whether it is your friends at home or your friends in Volda, socialise with them via all the online options you have. Socialising while keeping a distance will make the time fly, will help you feel good, and relieve stress.

There are a lot of opportunities that you could do: search for online games to play with your friends, do video calls with your friends at home, your family, your cat, dog or rabbit. Prepare dinner, light a candle, and eat together with your friends. You can synchronize your screens and watch a movie with somebody or do a Yoga session together. Join the same livestream together or take part in a challenge! Be inspired by others, there are a lot of ideas and upcoming services online. And never forget: We’re all in this together!

5. Strategic Studying

If you need to study for an assignment, it is important to set yourself realistic goals. What do you want to accomplish and how much time do you need for that? Be prepared to plan in more time, due to distraction or a lack of motivation, that is all too possible during these times.

Try to focus on your strengths, how can you study best? At which time, using which tools? Everyone has methods that work best for him or her, maybe try marking a “work-hour” in your calendar, set up To-Do lists and give yourself a deadline during the day for a specific task. Make sure, you do not just have one big goal in mind, try to separate a task or what you need for your assignment into smaller steps, which you can solve day by day. This way, you can track the progress and won’t be overwhelmed by everything.

Give it a little time to settle into the new habits. Not everything you planned will work out immediately, but the more consistent you are, the easier it will be.

6. Creating the right workplace at home

Maybe studying at home is not your preferred work environment. There can be a lot of distraction, and with not leaving the house you know your routines are broken. If you need to get a lot of work done pay attention to the following things.

Clean and organise that area you use for a workplace. Work only at your designated place of study without exception. It will be easier to set your mind into a work modus that way. Have everything organised according to your needs. Prepare yourself with tools, paper, music, a lot of water, and anything else you might need for studying. Imagine you are packing your bag for learning at the university, what would you bring? Place it near you and make it a decent and comfortable environment.

Set times during the day, where you get some exercise. No matter if this is stretching, a home workout session or just walking around a few minutes. If you feel stiff try stretching you neck, shoulders, and hands. Let your eyes wander to keep the muscles relaxed and prevent headaches. Have a short break every hour where you let in fresh air into your room. Fresh air is highly important.

Please remember that even though we are forced to socially distance to keep us all safe, we are not forced to socially isolate ourselves. We have so many possibilities to stay in touch online so use these chances and talk to each other about the problems and feelings you have.

Treat yourself, talk to each other, pay attention to your mental health, build yourself structures and routines and get some fresh air every day.

And always remember, no matter how small the world seems right now, it remains as big as you remember!

Stay home, wash hands, stay safe!😊

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