I’ll come right out with it: I lied

I have MORE free time now and it’s not cool.

For the past blog-updates I’ve been (at least trying to come across as) positive, enjoying this lock-down, making the most out of it, and generally not very phased by having to remain indoors. But guys and gals and non-binary pals – I’ve been struggling. Tomorrow marks the first day of week 4 of lock-down and social distancing and people, I am really starting to miss things.

  1. Koffie Onan. When it was open I would sometimes tell myself I don’t need to buy their coffee, Pangaea’s coffee or my simple machine at home is good enough.
I. Miss. This. So much.

Well right now, “good enough” doesn’t cut it anymore. I want good coffee, with a square of nice chocolate, and their baristas’ friendly faces, and the nice chat of how everyone’s doing. I miss sitting on one of their benches inside, or a chair outside, and catching up with a friend over a soya capuccino. I miss ordering their stronger coffee by accident, and it being 3:30pm then I wouldn’t sleep until after 2am (my body’s quite sensitive to caffeine, I haven’t been able to teach it not to be so far). I just miss Koffie Onan.

2. Not needing a self-imposed routine. I get up by an alarm on the weekdays, eat, do a bit of work, have my daily list of things to do. I work out at least every other day to keep my physical health up. I go for walks every other day. I keep a schedule. And I am starting to hate it all.

Knowing exactly what you will do when, it can relieve a lot of stress and anxiety from your mind. And because this isn’t a holiday but a stressful time, having a routine and things to do, tasks to accomplish, it’s what you need to not let yourself slip into anxiety and stress (no time to stress = no stress, right?). So I keep busy. I keep planning things. I keep on doing.
Until last week. Last week, most of my to-do list didn’t get crossed out. Half the time, I did my “daily tasks” sloppily and quickly instead of actively trying to build that habit and keep that routine. I found myself annoyed at every task and just wanting to read to escape, and not move. I miss just having things that need to be done instead of searching for things that need to be done. I want to just be busy, not make myself seem busy.

3. Random weekly conversations with random people. The random conversations at the bar of Pangaea with students I haven’t talked to before. I have a bartender friend who I would go visit once a week after my shift, and I’d just sit at their bar for an hour and talk about the most random things.

A cold drink on a terrace on Oude, in the sun? I’d even go to the Rector at this point…

Those weird, random conversations you have with strangers, be it for one minute or half an hour, and when you leave them you’re somehow different from when you started them. How your brain and point of view can expand within a single discussion because you suddenly have someone else’s experience or point of view thrown in your face. These seemingly little, sometimes downright annoying inconvenient talks you have with acquaintances, that still end up setting your thoughts on fire and stirring up some introspection. Now I have to get those sparks from walks. It’s not as easy sometimes.

4. Going for walks because you can, not because you need to. Going for a walk right now is one of the only few reasons you’re allowed outside, really. It’s become an association with “I need to do this so I get some exercise”, “I need to do this to keep mental health up”, “I need to do this because otherwise I have no justified reason to go outside and I want to be outside”.

The Park Abbey at Dusk

I used to go outside for a walk to take a break. To get from A to B. To escape certain social situations I didn’t want to be a part of anymore. To get my head straight, and my thoughts unscrambled. To take a deep breath and be alone.
Now I go for a walk not really because I choose to, but because I feel I have to. It’s become a necessity, and I hate it. Walks no longer spark the thought-processes or ease my worried mind, they’ve become another task for me to do. It takes a much longer walk for my mind to become clear, and people, I’ve even started to enjoy going for a run. I used to not like running, my cardio was walking everywhere and volleyball practice 2h/week. What is happening to me?

5. The freedom of not having to worry about what comes after. Before the lock-down, I was able to look at the next year of my life full of unknowing-ness and thinking “it’ll sort itself out, it always does, I’ll figure it out somehow!” Now I just don’t know anymore.

I will start this off by saying I’m pretty sure I’m one of the more privileged students at the KUL. I’m aware of this, and I know I have to worry way less about what my future may hold than students who don’t hold the Belgian nationality, whose supportive parents or family members can’t afford to provide financial aid in these times, who live from paycheck to paycheck, month to month, constantly worried, overworked, and being at their top 10% just to make it through – during normal times. I’m beyond lucky that I don’t have half of those worries.
Right now even, I still have to worry less because I probably stand more of a chance after this. But thinking about the future right now is just absolutely frightening. Job offers will probably decline, exams will be as hard as ever while there’s even less contact with the professors, and don’t even get me started on having to find the motivation to even still apply to jobs and study the course material. Delayed graduation? We’ll all have it, so we’re all “delayed”, but that’s the only reassurance. An unknown future can be a blessing and a burden, and right now, everything seems uncertain, and not in a good way really.

And these are just the things I miss most during these times. What about you? Are you missing something very specific, or you miss it in a very specific way?
Share it with us in the comments section below! And see who else misses the same things as you in the Pangaea Padlet for things we miss to feel a bit more connected

Sending you all hugs!! Stay safe, healthy, and kind 🙂

Published by thepangaeablog

We're the staff of Pangaea, the Intercultural Meeting Centre of the KU Leuven in Leuven, Belgium! Welcome to our blog where we aim to inform you of all we are doing, have planned, and keep you connected with what has happened lately!

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