“I feel the paranoia from my parents who are far away”

We have probably all worked from home once at some point, voluntarily or out of necessity. But how do you divide your day and sort your work or study load now that we collectively depend on our home for a longer period of time? How do you stay focused, how do you keep your team together, what are the tips, tricks and pitfalls? Cursor calls a ‘fellow sufferer’ every day. Today the crisis from an international perspective: bachelor student Computer Science & Engineering Hamshini Suresh.

photo Hamshini Suresh

Born in India, lived in Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and now here in the Netherlands. That’s more traveling than she will be doing in the coming weeks for sure. She’s working from her dining table in her appartment in Eindhoven.

“I share the appartment with a PhD student who is away for her annual break at the moment. She hasn’t been here since the first of this month and it will probably be extended, looking at the current situation. So I have the house to myself, which sometimes is nice but not for too long. I am a social person and now I don’t really have actual communication, only video calling or texting. I do have more frequent calls with my parent now that they have been working from home for two weeks now. We talk about how we are doing. My sister was going to visit me next month, but I guess that will be postponed or cancelled.”

“I stay indoors quite a bit but I’m blessed with two balconies I can safely get some fresh air and sun. I do groceries once a week like normal and encourage not to hoard as much as possible. One friend lives close to me and we shop together sometimes, keeping distance from others though. And since I live by the canal, I go there a lot as well. My other friends I haven’t see since the university closed.”

Being far from home

“I thinks this situation is harder for internationals. It’s not just our own worries; we feel the paranoia from our parents who are away, as well. You are far away, alone, not able to meet properly with friends that one has made here as they become your family here in the Netherlands. This might make internationals feel lonely.“

“My parents want the reassurance I’m okay. So we video call daily, just a minute or two can be enough. I’m fortunate enough that my time difference is only one or two hours, depending on daylight savings time. I know internationals who only talk once a week due to time differences of nine or ten hours. When you wake up, the other is asleep and vice versa. Working from home does make it a bit easier to plan such a call though.”

Hamshini also has a tip for her fellow internationals, that would benefit the Dutch as well though: “I know a lot of internationals who just stay at home. The sun is finally out, which was not often the case in February. So my tip to other internationals: go to a park - pick an isolated spot - for fresh air. This is essential for your health and wellbeing.”


“I think the situation here will get stricter over time. I check the RIVM website for updates every day, the number of new cases keeps going up, I guess mainly because most people don’t take the measures seriously. We see China recovering because people stay indoors but here I see people socializing still a lot. If people don’t follow the rules of social distancing, this can go on for at least a month or two.”

“My parents and my sister are in Saudi Arabia right now, where measures are much stricter. They have big and local supermarkets there and all the bigger supermarkters are closed. And then there is the travelban. If I wanted to go back, it had to be arranged last week or not at all.”

Alternatives for written exams

As far as studying, Hamshini has enough to do. But it’s sometimes hard to find the motivation. “I’m a little worried for a study delay. This quartlile I’m doing my final bachelor project (BEP) and we work in a group of ten. The transition from working in a room together, to communicating everything online is hard. My BEP will continue though and end when its supposed to end. I’m not so much worried about that but I do worry a bit about my exams. One subject’s classical paper exam will be replaced by an oral Skype exam. The subject is theory based so I don’t know how to study for that in order to make this new type of test.”

“You have all the time to study right now, but you don’t know how and what to focus on as you don’t know what to expect exam-wise. Classes can be taught online, but exams not so easily. I think they way the education runs here, they have never expected any kind of crisis to hit them and therefore experience the diffuculties to cope with them. I personally went to a school where they had some days of virtual school every year, which helped to prepare for times of crisis, maybe that could be an idea here too. There are so many people having to take exams and so many exams coming up. Maybe we should switch to project-based courses if this situation continues into the next quartile? But I’m optimistic: I don’t think this situation will last till the end of the academic year.”

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