I hope that you are healthy and safe!
My name is Stamatis Risto, I am 27 years old and I am half Greek and half Albanian (wannabe professional guy in Figure 1). I am currently studying Biomedical Engineering (Master) at the University of Applied Sciences of Lübeck. Since last August I live in a small city called Aalen in Baden-Württemberg, and I just finished my Master thesis. Today I will do something unusual for me and for the first time ever, I will guide you through my last weeks through a written blog. I am really bad at writing, I prefer visual interaction with people, hence, the reason I am such a good actor (you can laugh here), but, hopefully I can offer you some extra power, ideas and motivation during this situation.
To begin with, when the first measures for social distancing took place in Germany it was a month before the end of my contract with the company Carl ZEISS AG. I was doing the evaluation part of my thesis at that point and I barely found the last three participants that I needed in order to receive my evaluation data. I managed it though, and then I did two weeks of home-office until the end of the contract. Meanwhile, we were discussing with my supervisor, that I could follow up with an internship as he needed some help and I wanted more knowledge and experience. Unfortunately, the coronavirus had different plans for both of us.
I will do something unusual for me and for the first time ever, I will guide you through my last weeks through a written blog.
Having the thesis on hold
… I could not travel back home to Greece. The contract ended in 14th of April and I am left without a job during a pandemic disease, and with high social distancing measures. My parents cannot really support me with my monthly expenses such as rent or health insurance. I have a deadline to meet for submitting my thesis, I have two more exams to study for finishing my degree and I must defend my thesis once I pass all exams. How do you manage this stress? Well it needs a lot of personal work, but a main component of the solution is family and friends.
In the beginning, when we all had to stay inside our homes, I got so anxious that I did not do anything for a week. I literally lived the second week of April, without writing my thesis, or looking for a job, or doing anything. It is like I fell into a depression without even knowing it. The question here arises: “Are you still like that?”. No, I managed to control my anxiety and I am way better and back in track. You may now ask, “How did you do it?”. Well, firstly, I was always in communication with my family. Talking to them always relieves me of stress, and most of the times we find a solution to any problem. Secondly, I am talking very often with my best friends. One of them begun a chain thought reaction in my brain which later gave as a result the solution to my personal psychological problem (I will not go into details, though, maybe in another blog). But she also gave me a tip which proved to be worth and I would like to share it with you.
She told me that I should create a schedule
… like if I was working normally in a company. It is not the best one and sometimes I do not follow it 100%, like I still cannot wake up at 6 am but I do wake up at 8 am and I am improving each day. Nevertheless, it really helped me to set some targets and accomplish them. With this schedule I managed to finish writing my thesis in time for the deadline (Figure 3), and I made enough applications for jobs from which I received an offer for a “mini-job” where I deliver newspapers early in the morning (Figure 2). That happened last week and yes, companies and organizations are still hiring. Now that the thesis deadline was met, I am focusing on studying for my next exam which will happen in one week from now. Meanwhile I am still searching for a better job, as the “mini-job” I have will not pay my monthly rent, but it will help me to survive next month to some extent. I could go on into more details, but I think you got the message. I don’t promise that your problems will be solved if you follow what I did, but I believe that it will at least give you a hint or guidance to find your own solution to your problems in a healthy way.
At this point I would like to take a moment
… and provide a reference that I really relate to and it could probably help you see this situation and your situation from another perspective. For the “One Piece” anime fans, I would like you to go and check again (unless you haven’t seen that episode) what happened at the “Archipelago”. I want you to remind yourselves what was the dream of the “Straw Hat pirates”, why did they go to “Archipelago” and what happened next. For those who have not seen the anime I have another more familiar reference which will conclude into the same message. I am sure 99% of you have played at least once in your lives Chess. I was a medium-high Elo player (1700-1800). What I like the most is to start the game with my “Queen”. I always start the game attacking with her and mess around with the opponent. Why? Because it is fun, and because at the same time I am trying to see how the opponent will react to this. After a few moves though, my “Queen” usually gets blocked because the opponent counter attacked, and I’m forced to bring my “Queen” back to her initial position. Why do I bring her back to her initial position? That is because the opponent now is attacking, and I must build my defense. Once that happen, I check weak spots in my opponent’s defense, and I start attacking with my “Queen” again.
I was always in communication with my family. Talking to them always relieves me of stress, and most of the times we find a solution to any problem.
Now you will be like “What is the meaning of this?”.
Well think about this strategy as your life choices. You go on attacking, that is you being wherever you are, trying to achieve your dream or goal, i.e. I am in Germany to get a Master’s degree. Your opponent, “coronavirus”, sees your maneuver and counter attacks, therefore you are forced to step back, i.e. social distancing, losing your job or internship/thesis, or even going back to your home country or city. You are going one step back, but only for the reason to increase your defense, find an opening on the opponent’s defense and then attack again. That means, you are increasing your knowledge through online courses, webinars, working on your own in small projects either related or non-related to your study, doing calisthenics, cooking more and better food etc. And when the time comes you will find a weak spot (probably when the coronavirus effect will be almost gone or at a safe state) and you try again to pursue your dream or goal. You try again to come back to Germany or try again and apply to the job position you lost or generally for any other job. Same thing happened with the “Straw Hats” in the anime. Their dream was to make it to the “New World” (a set of big islands) where they will find the “One Piece”. But they were defeated in “Archipelago” and each crew member was sent to a separate island. What did they do next? They trained hard for two years separately one from another and tried again to enter the “New World”!
I hope this situation will get better and we can continue our lives in a new normal way (because I believe a lot of things will change so the normal we knew won’t be applicable). I cannot wait to be able to dance again, travel and BBQ with my friends. I also want to visit my family again, hug them and relax with them. I am sure you have similar desires too. Well, until then, we train hard and prepare ourselves for the “New Normal” (see what I did there? New world – New Normal…Man, I am so good…)!
I wish you all the best people, stay safe, stay strong and if you ever would like to discuss anything with me, you can always hit me up on Facebook, Instagram. I would be more than happy to at least help you relax a little bit and not think of this situation, but even more happy to help you overcome any problem you are facing.