A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
The current global crisis has caused much disturbance to our daily lives. These disturbances have come in many forms ranging from travel restrictions to daily mask usage. Yet, a poignant change has been to our university lifestyle. What is normally nine months of lecture halls and daily interactions with fellow students has been diminished into a screen. We now confront the challenges of Zoom connection problems and talking when on mute during seminars. Online university can be daunting and difficult to come to terms with, so I thought I would share some tips on how to make online studying just a bit more palatable.
In not having to physically leave our houses to get our education, finding the motivation and discipline to attend university or just get through all of our work can be difficult. I have found that in order to solve this problem a routine is crucial.
Planning on what days and at what times I am going to study or attend lectures has greatly helped me get through the week of work. It makes studying feel somewhat similar to how it was back in the beginning of 2020 when we had definitive schedules and allocated study deadlines. When you create a routine, you make it easier for your body and mind to adjust to the new normal and effectively get all your tasks at hand done.
As a student this one may be slightly challenging, but is very important. In being bound to our houses for most of the day it is important that we separate out certain spaces for certain activities. This helps us separate our activities and get each activity done with greater ease. I have made a distinct working, eating and relaxing area in my house. In doing so I don’t feel as if I should be working when I want to relax and vice versa. This separation also makes a distinction in our brains as when it is time to do what – helping to get studying done efficiently.
When we work at home, we are removing the (at least) one time a day that we leave our houses to do something. We are now constantly at home doing everything we would normally do outside of the house. This can cause a sense of cabin fever and stagnation in our minds. Leaving the house to even go for a five-minute walk or look at a clothing store will rejuvenate our minds and allow for a bit of release from a constant setting. The best way to do this is through exercise – a quick run, walk or trip to the gym can be a great release and change of scenery. As well as the fresh air very beneficial to studying.
If possible, working from a different location entirely is very refreshing during these times. I am a personal fan of studying from a café or at a friend’s house. The change in scenery can help prevent the aforementioned cabin fever and brain stagnation. It also provides a sense of excitement and adventure to your usual routine. As well as if you use the café option, you can get a great coffee and a slice of cake as a bonus. Working from cafes at least once a week has kept me sane and makes me feel more connected to the real world.
This recommendation is obviously very location specific. If where you are does not have restrictions on visiting friends, then socializing is key to grappling with online studying. We forget that during a normal university semester we see our friends almost daily and for a significant period of time. We still need that social interaction during these times in order to stay sane. A weekly dinner with your friends or trip to the bar can be a game changer for your mood and ability to study online. It is a refreshing break that brings back a degree of normality to our lives.
This is the most important tip for studying from home: don’t beat yourself up. We all undermine the toll that this pandemic and circumstance have put on us. It is important to be kind to and not put too much pressure on yourself. This is a tricky time that is very different from everyday university life. So if you do find it slightly harder to do your work on a day don’t beat yourself up – it’ll be okay.