The homeworker revisited: student Noor

Work from home if you can; this was Prime Minister Rutte's urgent appeal, made first to the people of North Brabant on the evening of Monday March 9th. Would it last two weeks? Four? Longer? More than eight months of corona news, discussion, measures, changes and adjusted expectations later, we know how things turned out - as do the members of the TU/e community who participated in our series on homeworkers this past spring. How are they doing now? Every day this week we are catching up with one of them and looking back at what was said at the time.

photo Privécollectie Noor Jansen
"Grandpa has the space, so that's nice. But it also takes some time for him getting used to having so many people around him again" (March 2020)

The Gelderland village of Wehl provided the backdrop this spring for Built Environment student Noor Jansen's homeworking experience, an sojourn necessitated not only by corona but also by the prolonged remodeling of her parental home. There, in the midst of sheep, the whole family was put up by granddad and the student found herself making frantic efforts to keep her mind on her studies, as she told us in mid-March.

She is grateful for the comfortable accommodation she had in Wehl, “but it is not your own home. Besides, it's just a bit odd to be living with your granddad; your relationship with him is different from the one you have with your parents, isn't he? My granddad is a really great guy, a modern man who leads his own life just like the rest of us. And suddenly there you all are in that house, living at close quarters; it took some getting used to. There can't help but be some friction now and then, sometimes remarks aren't worded as best they could be.” From her current vantage point, she can look back on the experience, with all its ups and downs, as a fine period. “Oddly enough, it's actually brought me closer to my granddad.”

"I do find it difficult to keep myself motivated and to work" (March 2020)

After nearly two months of living full time with her granddad, Jansen ventured back to her student house in Eindhoven. “Not that there was anyone there during the quarantine.” Driven by boredom she started painting a couple of walls and doing other odd jobs. But eventually she started visiting her family more often. “Being stuck in a house on your own sucks.”

Earlier this month she moved to another, more spacious room in the center of Eindhoven; her voice conveys her delight with her new quarters. She shares her front door with three housemates. While she chats with them now and again, as yet the threesome has made no firm arrangements about observing the corona measures. “Next week we are going to eat together for the first time, I think we'll discuss the matter then.”

Read on below the photos.

Back in Eindhoven, incidentally, she is still having to summon up the motivation and concentration she needs for her studies, as she admits. She had been just about managing while living with granddad, but never really found a good and effective approach to studying. “It felt as if there wasn't really a divide between studying and the rest of my life. I found that difficult.”

She continues, “I'm just not good at studying at home, that's something I've discovered; going to the university in the ordinary way of things is what works best for me. People from Doppio often arrange to meet up in Fenix, the most dreary building on campus. But even if that stops being possible, I hope the university will at least remain open as a place to study. For me that is vital.”

"Sometimes I go shopping with my parents for a bit of a social life" (March 2020)

Studying on the campus does at least give her the opportunity, she tells us, to see some people in 3D once again; a welcome change from all the enforced virtual contact of recent months. Although in that area too, she and her friends are trying to just make the best of it - by, for example, making ‘study deals’ between themselves. “So at two o'clock someone might say, ‘Who wants to play a game at 4 o'clock? Then before that time you have to have done this or that’. It works really well.”

"The entire association life is currently at a standstill" (March 2020)

Similarly, the online arena is where most of the activities of drama association Doppio, of which Jansen was a board members this last academic year, have taken place in recent months. “Before the summer we were able to put on three live performances, with thirty people in the audience - in the Corona Room, ironically enough. We were able to finish a few other productions online. But it's still difficult; every week there are other measures you have to adapt to.”

Happily, the latest press conference on November 17th brought Doppio good news: theaters can reopen, with up to thirty people attending each performance. “This means that our star production ‘Abeltje’ can finally come to an end,” says a delighted Jansen. On December 12th and 13th the association is giving three performances in the Eindhoven art center CKE.

For the time being the members of the drama association are still rehearsing online. “Not ideal, but it was certainly nice to see people again. Personally, I mostly do improvisation, and the director set us various group exercises that involve reacting to and playing off each other. That was fun and at any rate a great opportunity to let off steam, between all those study sessions.”

"Sometimes it’s nice to not follow the news" (March 2020)

Jansen is keeping her expectations fluid, avoiding too fixed an idea of what the future might bring. “I hope that after this wave we can start rehearsing 'in person', but following the forecasts just a little, I don't see that happening during this academic year. It's not something to spend too much time thinking about, because that makes it just depressing. I try to live in the moment.”

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