Imagine being an international student, far away from home. With family abroad and the recommended social isolation, these times can be quite challenging. Dhruv Gulhar knows all about it. As the Vice President HR of the Board for European Students of Technology (BEST) Delft, he is partially responsible for the 35-40 members, many of whom are international, of BEST Delft.
“As a board, we try to keep faith by organising online games. These vary from board games to online hangouts during the weekend. It’s mostly just a way to interact with fellow members. It allows us to check-in with each other.” The group also transferred their weekly ‘physical’ meeting to an online platform. “We are trying to go ahead with everything as planned. I believe that works best.”
‘Being socially isolated can take its toll’
In these challenging times, international students suffer an extra blow, since some of them were unable to return home. Just like Gulhar, who is originally from India. “It’s not that I wanted to go back home, but the fact that I can’t right now because my home country banned all incoming flights from Europe, does give me a weird feeling.” To make sure he and two fellow students are okay, they created their own little family. “The three of us only meet each other, we don’t socially interact with other people. I’m thankful for them because being socially isolated can take its toll.”
Students who are struggling with mental health issues luckily can still seek counselling at the TU Delft Career & Counselling Services. However, 1-on-1 appointments and walk-in hours have been moved to Skype. More info can be found on Brightspace.
In the meantime, TU Delft student ambassadors are collecting questions and concerns regarding the ongoing situation. Be it on education, visas or mental health. They will sort out all the questions and will try to provide answers as soon as possible. You can reach them via Facebook or Instagram.
Facebook groups and house parties
For those just looking for a place to connect with other students, there are several Facebook groups. The largest international community is Delft Internationals, with over 16,000 members.
Elsewhere, other initiatives are being developed. Take architecture student Alexandros, for example. He created a chat group on the Discord platform to connect with his neighbours in the Michiel de Ruyter housing complex. Gulhar agrees. “We have to make sure we check in with each other regularly. Because, however ironic it may sound, we’re in this together.”
Since the campus shutdown, Delta has seen multiple initiatives emerge to help get people out of their social isolation. As of now, the TU Delft introduction programme for international students is exploring ways to lift spirits amongst their community by hosting a daily hour of collective reading. Sports centre X provides free and live online classes, to help get in that physical exercise. Another initiative is the Houseparty app, an easy way to connect with friends: you can video chat or play games at the same time. It’s like an online house party, so no cleaning up afterwards.
- Are you experiencing concentration problems due to the current situation? Or are you feeling worried? Please have a look at the TU Delft Career & Counselling website for tips and additional information.