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Padmini Tu Delft Delta

I am not going to bore you with the statistics here, but it’s safe to say, and I believe I speak for most of the international student body here, that the students at TU Delft are stressed, to say the least.

Late last night I was browsing on my laptop when I came across this article titled ‘Read this Story and Become Happier’, and all I could think was that it’s a world of click bait. Nevertheless, curiosity got the better of me. It turned out to be an article about Yale’s wildly popular course ‘Psychology and The Good Life’, introduced by Laurie Santos, with over 1200 enrolled students, a quarter of Yale’s undergraduate body. The course is about ‘positive psychology and ‘behavioural change’, which Santos says is “the science of how you move your behaviour around. How do you actually change your habits and use your situation to your advantage?”

I am not going to bore you with the statistics here, but it’s safe to say, and I believe I speak for most of the international student body here, that the students at TU Delft are stressed, to say the least.

One might think that we’re attending one of the best schools in the world, and we have a nice little campus. What is there to be worried about? But the truth is that we sometimes tend to put personal well-being on the backburner to make it through. According to Santos, “College students are much more overwhelmed, much more stressed, much more anxious, and much more depressed than they’ve ever been. I think we really have a crisis writ large at colleges in how students are doing in terms of self-care and mental health.” And from personal experience, I agree.

Over the course of the past year, I’ve been through some hard times. There have been moments of crippling anxiety due to academic stress. So, I did what every TU Delft student is advised to do in situations like that and spoke to the academic counsellor. She turned out to be a wonderful woman who helped me get things back on track and even pointed me towards a course on ‘Constructive Thinking’ offered by the Career and Counselling Services. But what can you do to avoid getting into these kinds of situations in the first place?

Don’t get me wrong, I know that earning your Master’s degree isn’t going to be easy. It isn’t meant to be. There are expectations and high standards to meet. But we shouldn’t have to choose between good academic performance and personal well-being, although most of us have had to at some point.  Still, we do have choices, which means there are options. And the university has a certain level of moral responsibility to provide us with those options.

The university has some offerings such as the counselling services, workshops and a recent mission by the Sports and Culture Unit to introduce a Campus Farm where students can de-stress. All of them are appreciable initiatives, but not all of them are well advertised, and some of them have a long waiting list, such as a consultation appointment with the psychologist. These facilities are not useful if the student doesn’t proactively reach out for help in situations of distress. 

It’s a two-way bridge that both sides have to work on.

PS: The Yale course Psychology and the Good Life, rebranded as The Science of Wellbeing, is available for free (enrolment) on Coursera at www.coursera.org/learn/the-science-of-well-being

Padmini Manivannan is a Masters student studying Signals and Systems at TU Delft and hails from Chennai, India. She loves doodling in her free time.

 

During a Delta debate on the increasing pressure on TU Delft last Tuesday 5 June 2018, a panel of TU Delft representatives tried to find some answers.

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