Student barometer

STUDENT BAROMETER

STUDENT BAROMETER

Studying together, going to student parties together, graduating together. Being together is an important part of a student’s life. Yet, our current society is pushing students to find alternatives for their lifestyle during this period. That can be hard sometimes.  STAN sees these students, even though it might not be face-to-face for a while. So, we decided to ask our very own STANciens – the students who work with us – and the rest of the student community in Antwerp. Here you can read how they deal with this time and how high the speeds in their student barometer are running.

One big bundle of anxiety

Student Laika Planchenault graduates this year, which is causing her a great deal of stress. Deadlines seem to be moving around daily, finishing a thesis without any books or sources, new assignments because classes get canceled, … It’s all starting to pile up quickly. “The current situation is also seriously making me doubt my chances on the job market. Should I just try to find a job? Would it be better to study another year? I’m telling you: stress, stress, stress.” And it’s not just Laika who’s feeling anxious. Student Jannes van den Wouwer: “All my days are the same now. I’m stuck in a rut and there’s this constant internal struggle between being stressed about school, finding motivation and actually getting work done. I just can’t seem to grasp this lockdown.”

Student Hannes Lenaerts finds it hard to be productive at home. “I miss the trusted workspace of my student room, and the peer pressure at the library. Now I have to make study schedules and actually stick to them. It’s hard because more than once I have difficulty getting started, and I tend to waste a lot of extra time I’d normally spend taking a break.” Laika can find herself in this statement: “Strict deadlines give me energy, and I don’t have the self-control to stick to a tight schedule without any real need to do so.”

Preparing for exams in these unprecedented times, studying for said exams in a noisy home, … these are just a few of the answers that were sent in after we asked on social media what students are experiencing in this unusual situation. The answers show that there’s a lot of anxiety in the air and a need for relaxing tips and study spaces.

Graduating… but different

The almost-graduated Student Kelly van Loon regrets graduating this particular academic year: “The graduation ceremony, the graduation-event of the faculty, the last really long vacation with a long and faraway destination, going to the last TD’s and singing one last cantus. All of that’s gone down the drain. Even our thesis defense is happening online. I had a very different image in mind when I thought of graduating.” Hannes Lenaerts agrees: “I kind of feel like I’m being robbed of my last months as a student and that last summer break, and in this current time it’s difficult to make big decisions about what you want to do next year.”

Hannes Lenaerts

Hannes Lenaerts

Laika Planchenault

Laika Planchenault

Jannes Van den Wouwer

Jannes Van den Wouwer

Kelly van Loon

Kelly van Loon

It’s lonely being alone

It’s not just the inability to graduate together that’s disappointing students. Not being together in general can cause loneliness, which again leads to stress. Dutch student Julia Jansen experienced it herself: “The first 6 weeks of lockdown I spent at my student room in Antwerp. All by myself. During those weeks I didn’t see a single friend or family member. I didn’t even have a friendly face to talk to! Luckily I’m very good at being alone (even for a long time), but all those weeks of isolation were starting to weigh on me. I felt lonely, my head was chaos – there’s so many things to think about and deal with in such bizarre times. Because of this, I constantly felt anxious.” By now, Julia has returned to her family in The Netherlands and, even though she now has a quieter space to work on her bachelor paper, she really misses her place in Antwerp and her friends. What bothers her the most, is seesawing between feelings of stress and calmness.

Students are social beings, and now that we can’t all hang out the way we used to (at least for a while), we’re really missing our friends and social contact. This is one of the biggest grievances we hear among students. Student Marie Fabri can testify: “For me, the social aspect is the hardest: not being able to go out and have coffee, no movie nights with friends, no parties, no barbecues. The only thing that’s currently keeping me busy is, well, finding ways to keep busy. I started knitting, I’m baking bread and granola, started running, cycling and walking and I even picked up a series of French books at my teacher’s house…” Say what you want, but Antwerp students are anything if not creative.

Antar Latifine

Online all day, every day

Online parties have become increasingly popular during Corona times: raising a glass together, virtual afternoon drinks, the sky is the limit! This new trend hasn’t escaped students, Antar Latifine explains: “My ultimate friend and savior during this lockdown are my smartphone and FaceTime. Without apps for video chatting or calling, this would’ve been much harder for me.  Now, I spend at least 2 hours a day talking to my best friends.” Laika Planchenault also finds comfort in today’s online possibilities: “Fortunately, I hear from my friends every day through Whatsapp, and my agenda is fully booked with video calls. I miss them all so much but at the same time I’m happy we can stay in touch through social media.”

Positive effects

Luckily this crisis doesn’t only bring negatives. Through lockdown, some students have gotten more time for themselves or, as student Antar calls it: Antar-time. Student Jamina van Maele now has plenty more time than usual: “Now that I’m no longer commuting between home and the university, I have a lot more time and energy to fully dive into my bachelor project. For me that means: illustrating. I work on my drawings almost every day and really notice that my illustrations get better with each passing week! So personally I have to admit that quarantine actually had a rather positive effect on my school performance.

Student Ian Bartsoen feels the same: “Compared to many others, I quite like this quarantine thing. Although that has a lot to do with the fact that I’m a commuter student and I’m used to doing 90% of my school work behind my desk. I also gain a lot of time every day by not having to commute.”

For student Jannes van den Wouwer lockdown came just in time: “I was very busy and feeling pretty overwhelmed. Back home I remember joking that I wouldn’t mind a break of a few weeks like Italy…” Sadly, things changed after a few weeks when professors started to swamp him with school work, causing it difficult to keep a steady pace and fully fading the line between free time and work.

How can STAN help you?

How can STAN help you?

STAN doesn’t just see you, STAN wants to connect you, get in touch with each other as well as us, and pull you through this unusual time. That’s why we’ve compiled the following tips to deal with the emotions you might be feeling right now. If there’s anything you’re dealing with right now or if a problem hasn’t been covered, share it with us. This way we can see what we can do for you. Suggestions regarding things we should add, are always welcome.

Stress

  • Take a break from your everyday life and listen to audio stories from students of AP Hogeschool.
  • Relax and learn a new skill. How about guitar? Follow Nico Couck’s free guitar lessons on YouTube.
  • Keep an eye out on Facebook for online exam info sessions by the different student clubs from faculties to relieve your anxiety about exams/school.
  • Read news and tips from our student-editorial team.

Loneliness

  • The ZOO of Antwerp has reopened since May 18. Feeling lonely? The adorable animals will definitely make you feel less alone.
  • Write your heart out and join the #schrijfinuwkot of Lingua.
  • Check the different apps that allow you to video call with friends and play games at the same time, for example Houseparty!

Anger

  • Relax and count to 10 during a walk through one of Antwerp’s beautiful parks (Brilschanspark, Rivierenhof, …)
  • Ground yourself by taking online yoga- and meditation courses through the Antwerp based yoga school Surya.
  • Release your anger and work on your summer body with Jotka Bauwens through her YouTube-channel FITplusTIP met JOT.

Give back

  • Apply for Antwerpen Helpt and do something kind for a fellow human.
  • Support local businesses and order take-out from your favorite restaurant (at many restaurants and small catering businesses you can still pick up meals).
  • Regularly check vanuituwkot.be: an initiative by UAntwerpen and a platform to, as they put it, “meet, help and inspire each other”

Questions?

Do you have any questions about how your college or university handles the current situation? Try checking our FAQ, you’ll probably find the answer there. If not, you can chat with our student hosts every work day from 9AM to 1PM through Facebook Messenger. They’d love to help you out.