News - April 7, 2020

A lower gear

Angelo Braam

Week three of the intelligent lockdown: blogger Angelo Braam is reluctant even to consider plans for the future.
Social life is no longer what it used to be, few plans will materialise for the foreseeable future. Enough to be upset over. But still. Looking back on these past weeks, they weren't at all unpleasant. On the contrary: his normal life could so with a little more of this current life.

After three weeks of quarantine, the typical structure of busy study weeks is wholly gone. Suddenly, a large portion of the day is filled with nothingness. It took some getting used to studying behind a computer screen and having all this freedom to design your own schedule. For me, it resulted in a slower working and living pace. And that's not at all bad.

In the social sciences, we read dozens of scientific publications a week, and, on occasion, some of the reading material is left unread. In fact, many fellow students read less than half the assigned literature. And even those who do, often just skim the article, hoping to understand the general content. The vast amounts of extra time on our hands allows us to delve deeper into the material and reflect on it more critically. It often takes an in-depth consideration of content to appreciate more abstract concepts. Without a busy social life to distract us, there is suddenly ample time to dig into the books.


Things we usually don't take the time to do, such as baking our own bread, suddenly become daily rituals

High standard of living
It's not just the studying that I appreciate more. Now that we are all home for weeks, simple things spark more joy. Things we usually don't take the time to do, such as baking our own bread, or paying attention to each of the plants in the garden, suddenly become daily rituals. By the end of the day, all those hours spent in the kitchen or garden create a feeling of satisfaction. A feeling to be shared with housemates with whom you produce a veritable feast for diner each evening. All in all, a truly higher standard of living, not so easily achieved under normal circumstances.

I must admit, it's easy to feel this way when living in a paradise such as Droevendaal. Indoors, there is no shortage of company, and the extensive gardens and forest just around the corner prevent us from feeling locked in. Life in a building like Asserpark will likely feel very different. For those that are truly locked up, I hope the busy life will begin again soon. But for myself, I wouldn't mind this slower life to continue for a while, even when the Corona crisis is over.

Angelo Braam is a third-year student of International Development Studies, who recently returned from an exchange in Jerusalem.