Support service: The Student Counselling Office
Especially for new students, the pandemic-related restrictions on contact can create the feeling of having to go it alone. 'But nobody has to do that,' promises Stefanie Kieback, deputy head of the Student Counselling Office at HAW Hamburg. 'Anyone who has a problem can come to us. Whether it has to do specifically with studies – for example, learning difficulties or a lack of motivation – or with private issues such as relationship crises, bereavement or anxiety, we try to look together at what next steps could be helpful.'
Depending on the problem, the Student Counselling Office works closely with other internal and external support services, such as the Confidential Dispute Advising Office and the Family Office. 'And of course the discussions are free of charge and treated as strictly confidential,' Kieback emphasises. She also recommends seeking support early on. So again, it is important to trust yourself and dare to take the first step – after that it gets easier.
How do I organise my day?
What is also not easy for many is studying in online courses and at their own pace. These questions result: How do I structure my day? Where should I set up my laptop? And how do I keep from getting distracted? Kieback knows that everyone learns differently. 'While for most people the classic study setting at a desk is helpful, I, for example, liked studying at the kitchen table of my communal apartment the best – at the centre of the action,' says the expert.
However, she recommends set study times to structure the day, as well as rituals. 'For example, going for a walk around the block after breakfast and then starting the (study) day. Or making a date with fellow students for an online check-in in the morning or a check-out in the evening, followed by a little reward.' These kinds of routines make it easier to be organised, disciplined and, above all, motivated, says Kieback.
Johanna confirms this. After getting up, she first does a round of exercise, then takes a shower so she is fresh and awake for the online seminars. She always sits at her desk, with water and a few snacks nearby. 'Of course the idea of logging in from bed one minute before the lecture starts is appealing, but a certain amount of study routine just helps,' she says.