„Hello Ms Schebitz, we regret to inform you that you unfortunately were in contact with a person infected with the Corona virus. Therefore, I have to ask you to immediately return home and remain there as a quarantine measure.“ That’s basically how it all started, my two weeks of being isolated at home.
Students home alone
Social Distancing has become the new cool term amidst our collective experience of reducing personal contact to others and spending most of the time home alone. The Presidential Board of the University of Goettingen has also urged all students to follow these instructions, which seems to work out well, although the whole isolation thing can be a little bit trickier than expected. Everyday life without social interaction–for students like us a completely new situation. If you strictly follow the motto #staythefuckhome either voluntarily or unvoluntarily, life can get pretty lonely after a while. After the order by the public health department, I definitely know what I am talking about: Days without seeing anybody, not leaving the apartment at all and only viewing the world through my window or the internet was really hard!
Don’t worry, ask the BLUG…
When there’s a problem, there must also be a solution: Instead of getting upset because this situation is so unfamiliar, restrictive and overwhelming, there are a few positive things to take from this crisis. In case you need some inspiration to overcome this time of self isolation, you came to the right place! You’ll learn here which homey activities are actually super fun right now and which worlds you should explore virtually. Also, my fellow BLUG writers have tested what kind of sports to do at home, how we can now save local stores and what joy it can be to meet you friends online…
Home sweet home
During my two week long safety quarantine, which I was forced to do after returning from a trip abroad, I was tired of wistfully looking out of the window, peering at my alleged freedom. Investing my energy in workouts did not seem like a reasoned idea, given my 20 m² living space. So–what to do in this earthly space station? To my surprise, I learned to celebrate the homey activities. Spring-Cleaning? Already done it and because of my eagerness I bet this also counts as a workout. My desk is unusually empty, my folders on the other hand became even fuller. My windows have never been this shiny and clean and opening it widely almost gives me the feeling of being super close to nature, almost as if being outside. Who even says that it can’t be nice and cozy in our home, if we all have to stay indoors for so long?
Thankfully there are also numerous DIY craft instruction manuals on the internet for creating a couple of new little eye-catcher. Baking, drawing, reading, crocheting, knitting, repotting house plants, planting herbs… fascinating how you can recover old passions that you never have time for during busy university times. My personal highlights are these little fluffy comforting pastries (if you were the lucky ones who were able to get yeast at the grocery store) and my new wall decoration: photos from my hard drive that I finally managed to have printed.
Studying between bed and TV
The mensa is closed, libraries are closed, the LSG is also closed: If you would like to (or have to) continue to be productive throughout this time (waving at my Master thesis), it couldn’t be more challenging. The shared or single-room apartments are not necessarily the best places to study or write papers. What’s often missing is a separation between working and freetime–difficult if your desk is only a few feet away from your bed and TV. So how is it even possible to get into work mode? I will share a few tipps of mine and how I was able to cross some things off my to-do-list. Maybe they will help you with your own home office situation as well!
First – Don’t eat breakfast in bed!
Immediately after I get up, I make the bed and put on the bedspread for the daytime; I also change into normal clothes. This way I overcome the temptation of staying in bed, eating and watching an episode of my favorite TV show. That’s just killing every spark of motivation, let me tell you that!
Second – Set a timer!
To avoid peering at my phone all the time and be tempted to video chat with my best friend, I set the timer on 45 minutes. During that time the phone lies on the other side of the room and I am not allowed to look at it. Afterwards I have a 15 minute break–maybe even for video chatting with friends. Then 45 minutes of productivity, followed by another short break and so on…
Third – Be indulgent with yourself!
That’s maybe the most important part: Staying home for such a long period of time and spending it living, working and studying there is such a big adjustment! If the VPN client of the university is overloaded again and you can’t get access to all the literature you need, or you’re just feeling down and overwhelmed by the whole situation, then that’s just the way it is! Most of the deadlines were postponed anyways, don’t worry about one or two days. If you need some encouragement and cheering words from your friends instead, it is totally fine!
Experiencing the world virtually
So you’ve been stuck inside your home for 2 weeks now. You’ve already caught up with all your friends over call and binge-watched more shows than you care to admit. Right when you think you are running out of things to do and that the quarantine couldn’t possibly become any worse, you realise it’s almost summer! Which means no more tanning and travelling in the near future. But not to worry, BLUG has put together a huge array of all things culture for you to travel to right from your desktop!
Planned to visit Paris this summer? Or dreamt of strolling in the cobblestone streets of Florence? While you can’t physically travel to these places anymore, you can still in part recreate that feeling by visiting their famed museums! The Musée d’Orsay and the Uffizi Gallery are among the many museums offering a virtual tour of their famed artworks. Others include the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, the Museum of Modern Art in Los Angeles, or the Museu de Arte de São Paulo. If you’re looking for something more offbeat, we’d recommend an online tour of the museum of broken relationships situated in Zagreb and Los Angeles.
More inclined towards the performing arts? Numerous theaters and Opera Houses around the world are live-streaming their performances for free and are even opening up access to their archived shows. The Bavarian State Opera will be livestreaming its chamber music concert on Monday evenings. Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw Orchestra has organized all of its past concerts by composers and made them publicly available to watch. The same goes for the Berlin Philharmonic and their Digital Concert Hall. For fans of the legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma, you can watch him perform comforting short pieces on various social media platforms under the hashtag #SongsofComfort.
The quarantine also makes for a good excuse to catch up on all the movies in your wishlist. If in case you’ve already exhausted it, we can recommend going through all the Oscar-winning movies – Moonlight, Birdman, Marriage Story, The Reader, Roma, or The Revenant. If you’re looking for something more quarantine-specific, Netflix we have you covered for that too! Quarantine, 28 Days Later, and The Purge are some of the classic stuck-with-nowhere-to-go horror movies to add a thrill to your own stuck-at-home experience. On the other hand, you can choose to inform yourself of the nature and extent of pandemics by watching the documentary ‘Pandemic’. All the mentioned titles are available on Netflix Germany.
Like most things in life, there is a silver lining in the quarantine too. The Ljubljana City Museum understands this and is thus currently preparing a special exhibition of art pieces created during this quarantine. Slated to finish by the end of May, the exhibit will showcase all the masterpieces created during this difficult time.”
Get up now!
With all the online workout advertisement, home fitness videos, and all this time I have now, I quickly decided: This is the time for me to become fit! First of all, nobody should feel compelled to become better at anything during this crisis. Whether your’re gaining weight, losing weight, stay the same… now your only concern should be your wellbeing, not the shape of your body. Nevertheless, getting up and moving will be our rescue now. It rescues us from recurring hopelessness and from cabin-fever, when we leave the house once a day for a little walk or a run, especially when the sun is out we also catch a little vitamin D on our way.
I quickly discarded my plan of long exhausting runs and excessive workouts; as it turns out, there’s a lot of burpees involved and I simply love my life too much for these to ruin it (if you don’t know what burpees are: google it and tell me that this is supposed to make this isolation easier for anybody!). But: moving in general has become my daily priority. It doesn’t matter if you want to torture yourself with this 25 minute online class or whether you go for an-hour-long walk–now that we don’t get to ride our bikes to the campus, this will help you to take care of your circulation, muscles and other important body functions. Here’s a pro tipp for all those Hochschulsport fans like me: Their Youtube channel now features their workout classes to train along!
Three to four times a week I am currently getting myself ready to work out (helps to put on some nice gym clothes and feel pretty during the workout, trust me) and try to jump and squat and walk as much as my Netflix & Chill body enables me to. And guess what: After each time I am developing more ambition and routines, which makes the isolated days so much more bearable and endurable than they were in the beginning. Except when my workout schedule requires me to do burpees.
Shop local: little effort, big help for shop owners
I know, it’s very tempting to browse through all these online shops with their sales and free shipping and all. Not too bad to safe some money, right? At best, you’re still getting your monthly paycheck as usual and that money just has to be spent somehow. I myself struggle with this inner conflict, always allured to click these ad mails from ASOS, Zalando etc., stacking those items in my virtual sopping cart, all these books I want to read now, and hey, that dish from my favorite restaurant–I bet I can make this easily myself. Needless to say, the online business challenges and ruins our local stores (and btw overburdens delivery services). But, there are a few very easy and practical ways to have our consumerism support the Göttingen shops during the Corona pandemic.
My main advice is actually pretty simple: Think of your favorite restaurant or café, your favorite boutique, your favorite book store and work that open those search engines! Many of the little shops came up with inventive systems, how you’re still able you get their products. Many restaurants, bakeries etc. have lunched their own delivery services in next to no time (please remain fair here; to created this is such a short period of time can hold little difficulties, it often takes a little longer to settle). If you can’t find a website or social media account, just call them or write an email, because this also signals them that people care about their businesses. Some might not offer any kinds of services right now but sell gift cards that you can redeem once this whole thing is over.
On top of that, there are already several lists and other displays of local shops currently offering their services. Here’s a list of all first-hand and second-hand book stores and their efforts to grant customers access to their books (it includes two chains, I probably don’t have to mention who is more in need of our support right now). Instagram accounts such as @weareonegoettingen, @goeliefert, @deingoettingen and @goettingerglück and this website by the GT feature all kinds of different stores and provide links to their accounts and websites, so you’re only task there is to only browse. As you can see, there are already a bunch of initiatives that save us the research (if there are more that you know of, don’t hesitate to tell us!).
Another way to show solidarity has been widely talked about on social media and can help small bars and restaurants. It goes as follows: You just save the money you would usually spent at their places and hand it to them once they reopen. It’s actually very easy. If I usually drink three beers of each 3€ every weekend at my favorite bar, I’ll go to a supermarket instead, get three beers that I like, and put the other ~7€ (or more) aside. And maybe there’s even a way to transfer the money right away, possibly via PayPal or else.
Call them, ask them, show your support to every bar, café and restaurant you usually go to, because if we don’t help now, our cute little city center won’t be the same soon.
Socially distant, virtually close
Cancelled game nights, cancelled watch parties, cancelled – Corona leaves its marks in my calendar. Thanks to digitalization it’s still possible to keep a somewhat social life. I tried some Apps and Tools for you to get the ultimate „You’re not alone“-Feeling.
– Quizduell – Oldie but Goldie! I downloaded the App again at the beginning of my isolation. But I am wondering why I deleted it in the first place! Maybe because it might ruin some friendships instead of keeping them alive
– Houseparty is basically an extended video chatting app. It lured me with its promises of joint games, but only convinced me partially. Maybe because only one of my friends uses the App. If you have more fun with it, let me know!
– Speaking of games: I recently had the best Friday night in a while. I played a digital Escape Room Game via Skype with two of my friends (hi there). Btw: The game is created by a local provider!
– I love to watch TV, but I rather do it with others together, who share my interest in trashy TV shows. The browser add-on Netflixparty (only for Google Chrome) enables you to watch tv series and films on Netflix simultaneously, you can even chat and exchange your thoughts about the show right away. It’s definitely a lovely idea but I personally enjoyed the self made linear version of it too, when we real-time chatted about the new Tatort Göttingen on Telegram (one of five possible stars, let me know if you request a more detailed review of the Tatort).
My personal conclusion: I don’t necessarily need more than a webcam and a microphone to feel virtually close to my socially distant friends. My advice (she said, as if she was an expert): Don’t do spontaneous virtual hangouts but make concrete plans. We, for example, cleared out our friend’s closet via Skype once, each on their computer on the other side of the city. Rumor has it that entire beer pong tournaments have taken place virtually so far. Get creative and you might even forget the reason why we can’t meet for a moment! Meanwhile you’ll find me over here, playing Quizduell.