A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
The first semester of the third year of the International Studies programme is the discretionary space. Usually there is a choice out of studying abroad, doing and internship or a minor. This year, with the Coronavirus preventing face-to-face interactions in many places, studying abroad was no longer an option. Most people did a minor. I was lucky enough to continue with an internship that could be conducted remotely.
I was working for a company in the Netherlands that helps expats and their families settle. The team was relatively small (only about 4 people including myself) but they were incredibly friendly and helped me to feel welcome. I was working there from September until January; I was there around 5 months all together.
The internship was conducted online since during the entire 5 months it was not advisable for us to work fac-to-face. During the whole internship, I didn’t see my colleagues in person once. At times it was nice, I didn’t have to spend money or time on the commute and I’d be lying if I said there weren’t mornings where I rolled out of bed just before work started. At times though, I hated that everything was online. Staring at a screen for the whole day was felt strange and wreaked havoc on my posture. It felt strange not having casual interactions in the day, like we did when we were studying at school. Having no morning commute meant that my day never felt like it started or ended. For all its benefits there were also things that made me wish I was doing it in person. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful I was able to do it at all and I’m so glad I did. These were specific challenges I faced and how I found solutions for them.
Because there was no commute to the office and back, it felt hard to seperate my day. One of the tips I learnt from a friend is to take a short walk in the morning and afternoon before and afterwork to feel as if you’ve gone to work and come back. I never stuck to a specific route, but some people that I knew did and it helped them so figure out what works for you.
A ‘commute’ is incredibly helpful when paired with a set routine of hours. I understand that it is not always possible depending on timezones or urgent work, but if you can maintian it then try to. It helps to seperate out the day and stop work from becoming part of your free time. Relaxation time is so important, especially when other relaxation avenues are no longer available. Try to find a way to relax without technology though, becuase as someone who spent their entire day on their computer needs a break from a screen. It was hard to resist the urge to scroll on Instagram after work – but it was definetly worth it!
There will be another part coming with some more helpful tips, but in the meantime, tell me what helped you!