These are unprecedented times we are living. The clock seems to have stopped, and our daily activities have undergone major changes. There is no specific recipe for coping with isolation, each of us trying to find our own way to resist, wait, or enjoy this "break" of the world. Let's see this situation through the eyes of our volunteers: which are the ups and downs, the funny and the difficult parts, and their message for the Erasmus students from everywhere.
Describe your current situation using 3 words.
Daniela: challenged, rested, disquieting.
Andi: creativity, Rapunzel, nurturing.
Diana: home, place, love.
What do you miss the most during this isotation period?
Daniela: People! I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by amazing friends who always make me feel that I can move mountains. I miss hugging them.
Andi: To actually hang out with my friends, feeling the rays of the sun on my skin and the air breeze, just to be out to walk without feeling like I am a thief or something in this area. And one thing that hurts me the most and I miss it greatly is seeing my grandmother, which I cannot do in this isolation period.
Diana: I miss the feeling of freedom, walking through the park with my bestfriend while talking about everything. In general I am a social butterfly, I feel at ease when I have a person that I care for near me all the time.
How do you think you can use this time in a positive manner?
Daniela: The most important thing for me this time is to recharge my batteries, physically and mentally. I was so overwhelmed and tired right before all the craziness started that now I’m thankful for every hour of sleep I’m having. My boyfriend and I have been spending a lot of nice time since we isolated together and I’m very grateful for this, too.
Andi: To read the books that I wasn’t able to read, to write even more now that I have plenty of free time, to engage myself more in Uni’s activities and tasks, to do more in-house sports, and to nurture myself more in many areas now that the situation given lets me do so.
Diana: I think like all the students who found themselves in the final year of uni...I’m trying to make sense of the BIG THESIS coming up. Final exams are a priority and because I’m also a Letters student, sleeping needs to become my bestfriend again ASAP.
What is the funniest or the most interesting aspect of this situation for you?
Daniela: I’m cooking almost every day and I’ve surpassed my fear of making soups (I know it sounds odd, but 3 years ago I tried to make soups and after 4 failures in a row, I stopped tying).
Andi: The fact that whenever I have a mental breakdown or every two days, I clean the whole apartment with jazz music in the background to ease the tension, and this way I calm myself. Then, I do other tasks with a clearer mind.
Diana: I usually came in contact with a lot of new people while being a volunteer, so I missed meeting a new person and doing that guessing game about ourselves. Well the funny thing is I found a new friend online when I least expected it. So, staying home doesn’t mean a social wall came in your life.
How do you keep in touch with your friends?
Daniela: Calls, calls, calls, and a lot of chatting. Sometimes we play online games.
Andi: We use every available app such as Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, and we have daily phone sessions where we talk about everything and anything. We do text a lot, as well. We also began to write virtual letters to one another at the end of every week.
Diana: Pigeons and letters would have been an interesting idea, but my friends from abroad need a doze of my happiness too. I text and call a lot, my fav part of the day is doing a weekly check up with all the important persons in my life.
If you had to write down a personal „to do” list for this period, what would be the first 3 things you’d choose and why?
Daniela: Work on my mental health, more specifically, on increasing my self-esteem and confidence. Then, the casual reading of some books, watching TV shows, cook, work on my projects for uni, and check on my friends regularly.
Andi: To stop complaining, because I used to complain about many things before this situation and now I am bitterly regretting it. To fix my sleep schedule, because whilst being at the dorms, I slept just how much I could. To do more in-house sports because I am not a fan of sports, but I must do it in order to feel and be a little bit healthier.
Diana: More self-care/a portion of smiles each day, less drama, read more books.
What is the first thing you want to do once you can go back to your normal life?
Daniela: That’s actually hard to say, I have a lot of things in my mind. But definitely to go around Somes river and take a deep breath, go to my favorite burger place, and end up my day with my friends, having a beer on a terrace.
Andi: Hug my friends and my grandmother tighter than ever.
Diana: Thanking Cluj for the most amazing place to start my adult life and hug my best friend.
What message would you like to send to the Erasmus students that are currently in a different country from their own?
Daniela: You are not alone! I know it sounds like a cliché, but it’s true. We are all a bit scared, confused, and can’t wait for everything to be normal again. And these feelings go beyond any geographic, linguistic, or financial borders. These are shared from heart to heart and soul to soul, so if you need help, just ask. Remember, it’s ok not to feel ok, but try to make the most of the time spent with yourself. Who knows when you will have this “opportunity” again?
Andi: To stay safe and respect what the Government issued, to pray for the better days and their safety, and to take very good care of themselves, because if they protect themselves, they protect the others around them. To stay positive and not lose hope. To occupy their minds with positive thoughts and activities. Also to treat this isolation period very seriously.
Diana: I know that Erasmus is about the balance between university and studies, but be strong, stay in touch with your family/friends, and be creative. You are the true owner of your time, so do what makes you happy in the limits of today’s dramatic events and do it with your country in your heart and mind.
Written by: Cristina-Elena Talpoș