The Light at the End of the Tunnel

This is a long overdue one. And in some respects, it may be considered a little late. But it is a topic that’s still relevant - for those who have just started the new semester at Universität Stuttgart and for many of us who are still adapting to the changes thrust on us because of the effects of Covid-19.

We are still part way during the pandemic and Germany has just announced another national lockdown for the Christmas period. Although we have made it through nine months of digital learning, and some of us have managed to fare well, there are still many students out there who are quite lost and internally confused. Your home is your castle - a place of rest after a long day of work. But now it’s become the library, the study room, the workplace, the living environment all in one - a perfect recipe for winter cabin fever.

Online classrooms are just not a perfect replacement for physical classrooms. There’s no two ways about that. There is a loss of most non-verbal communication in an online class. Online classes can be a mental stressor. You might strain your eyes staring so many hours at a computer screen. Not to mention the uncertainty in the effectiveness and cohesion of online assignments and teamwork. These are real issues. Unfortunately, we have to make do with what we have and wait for things to go back to normal. Remember you’re not alone. Students all over the world are going through the same problems.

We can’t travel back home without so many barriers to surmount such as travel bans and quarantines. Our wanderlust is forced to go on hiatus, vacations are difficult and a trip to the grocery store seems to be the closest thing to an outing.

Another obvious fallout is the fact we can’t socialize freely. Even when we do so in small numbers, we have to cover our smiles behind a mask. All this can be frustrating and overwhelming - especially for the extroverts among us.

Now that’s the bad part.

What can we possibly do to deal with this?

Here are a few things that worked for me. Remember, there is no one size that fits all. So pick those suggestions that work well for you.

  • Pick up a new hobby or delve deep into the hobbies you already have. Get cooking, painting or rocking that guitar
  • Find things to do which provide a sense of pleasure and deep fulfilment to you
  • Take short breaks as often as you can. Set aside a few minutes and focus on how you feel. As simple or even silly as it might sound, it works wonders
  • Remember to take care of yourself. Go out for a walk- if that is still allowed. A change in environment, however short it may be, can help boost overall well-being
  • It’s normal to feel lost, confused, unmotivated and uninterested sometimes. But if things go overboard, do not hesitate to seek help.
  • For all you gym-goers - get creative with your workouts. ‘Tis the season of jumping jacks. Meditate and do some yoga. They’re extremely refreshing and relaxing activities.
  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule to alleviate digital eye strain: after every 20 minutes spent on the computer, try to spend 20 seconds looking at an object 20 feet away.

Even if you aren’t interested in anything at all, there may be a hidden advantage to all of this. Just sit down, have a cup of tea and take things as they come. You might just find your centre in the midst of all this.

And inevitably, things are going to get better. Though it doesn’t seem too promising now, there’s a brand new year in a few days full of possibilities. This situation is annoyingly described as the ‘new normal’ But this too shall pass. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, Prost!, my friends.


Ghayathri Suriyamoorthy


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