Our Blog

26th November 2020

Welcome back to the ISN blog! The theme of this post is all about ‘getting creative’. With the holidays fast approaching, we start to get into a festive atmosphere and get creative with gifts and presents. However, students have also been busy in the last few months thinking about ways to occupy the time. We’ll talk about the recent ISN events, some top-notch ways of spicing up your room, and other ways we can get creative.

Comedy Show! – Daniel

Comedy Show, hosted by the Comedy Undergratz was a great relief to the everyday routine. Hearing some fun jokes and finding humour in the current situation we are in. Even though this comedy show was hosted over Zoom it still felt nice, of course, it was tough to tell when people were laughing due to everyone naturally muting themselves during Zoom meetings. Though I can assure you that I heard myself laughing.

Origami and Wine!

…and to continue with activities to get your mind off uni and work, Origami and Wine was able to put all my concentration on a little piece of paper. It’s amazing how intricate origami can be. Even when we made an origami heart, I was confused to the fact why there were so many folds to make something that you can cut out in a few seconds, but I guess that is where the fun of origami is. I believe that origami can be a fun activity in these times of corona to keep us creative.

Broaden your horizon – Sol

Being creative is not only painting, drawing, or making films; being creative is actually doing something different than you’re used to and making it your own. Essentially, creativity comes from an idea and vice versa. Regarding the current situation, we have more time to generate new ideas and try them out. So, what better time than now?

Learn a new language

With apps like Duolingo, it’s very easy to start learning a new language.  Even better, apps like Speaky and Tandem can easily help you find a language exchange partner. You don’t even have to put a lot of effort into it; it’s not a course you need to pass, it’s an experience. As long as you are consistent, you will definitely see progress. Little things can help you learn new languages, like adding some music in that language to your playlist, reading children’s books before going to sleep, and watching movies with subtitles so you get familiar with the pronunciation. And lastly, (when it is possible again) travel to that country and put your knowledge into practice!

New Hobbies

Now that there are limits to social interaction, it may be a good idea to broaden your horizon and get involved in your friends’ interests. Do they like something that you could potentially like as well? What book or artist have they been recommending you for the past weeks, and you just have never really given it a try? Also, this works the other way around. Encourage your friends or family to practice your hobbies and get to know your interests. You can also get a lot of inspiration on Instagram, Pinterest, and Youtube – but it’s just not the same as learning interesting hobbies that you never knew your family and friends had.  Of course, the best thing about that is that you can do them together!

DIY up your room

Your room is a canvas, paint it however you like. Even if you’re not that into DIY and being creative, simply changing the position of furniture and cleaning it out a bit can have a big effect and make it feel like it’s a whole new room. But if you want to really be DIY, for example during the Christmas break when you have more time, go to Pinterest and dig up some ideas to change up your room or just make it a little more personal. Since you’re spending quite a lot of time in your room right now, James will give some tips on how to customize your room in the next section.

‘Room Renovation’ – James

Thanks Sol! This time is a great way to embrace the opportunity to brighten our rooms up a little bit. Having personally lived out of home for the past 5 years, my room has always looked slightly different but over time, there are certain things that stick with me.

First thing, the ‘background’. This is the permanent addition to your room which you will see every time. There are two things here which do the trick for me – posters and LED lights. Posters are a great way to add some colour to your room, especially if you have plain walls. Posters can be of whatever you want and can be something you’ve seen of Pinterest, a childhood memory or a great picture that you’ve taken. During the evenings, when you can’t appreciate the posters as well, a set of LED lights can make your room look exciting. I’ve had rooms decorated with multi-coloured LED strips, as well as standard white LEDs. The coloured ones are the best, as you can make your room look from a sci-fi film to very romantic.

Secondly, we aren’t always looking at all of our posters, or sometimes we are so engrossed in our Zoom meetings that we just can’t appreciate them. Despite our eyes looking away from the beauty of bedroom walls, our other senses continue to take in our surroundings. The next item on the shopping list should be a nice diffuser. These come in all different sorts of smells and in shops, are situated close to each other. You can really pick out which one takes your fancy. If you want something more delicate, a candle (or two, or three) can also add a nice mood-setting in your room. As I live in a studio, I have a diffuser near the entrance every time I return home. Back home away from Amsterdam, I light a candle in the evenings to also warm myself up on a cold winter’s evening.

We’ve got the smell, we’ve got the sights. To finish it all off, we need the atmosphere. By atmosphere, I mean decorating it with some seasonal additions. As you’re reading this, I’m going to be putting up my decorations for the festive season. Whilst the Christmas tree may be located in the living room, there’s no excuse for not brightening your room up with some tinsel. Other times of the year can be Halloween, where a trip down to your nearest Halloween shop can inspire you towards all sorts of different creations. Finally, flags are a great one to show off certain national holidays! For example, an Irish flag for St Patrick’s Day through the middle of March!

Here was just a combination of a selection amongst the multitude of things that are possible for renovating your room a little bit. Perhaps you have a room full of posters and have now found your missing thing, or maybe you have found a place for an old gem hidden in the back of your cupboard. Let us know through our social links below if you decide on learning a new language, hobby or renovating your room. We’d love to see what you will come up with!

UPCOMING EVENTS

Don’t forget to join us in our upcoming events!

Friday (November 27th) – Game Night! (18:00 – 20:00)

Join us tomorrow where we will play several online games with fellow ESN members around the Netherlands

Thursday (December 3rd) – ESN Christmas Pub Quiz (20:00 – 22:00)

Friday (December 4th) – Writing Letters to Elderly

Blog 2 – Students in Quarantine

12th November 2020

Welcome back to the ISN blog! Our second post will highlight what to do during quarantine, bringing you the latest on what we’ve been getting up to during our ‘Online Wednesday’s’. Also, Sol and some of her friends share some stories about what life as first-year university students is like for them this year!

The ISN blog gets a new post every two weeks – stay tuned on our social media platforms (which you can find below) to be alerted when our next post is up, which will be on the 26th November!

Online Wednesday’s: Pub Quiz (4th November 2020) – By James

ISN Amsterdam’s ‘Online Wednesdays’ continued with a monthly PUB QUIZ. Originally founded in the UK in the 1970s, a pub quiz is a great way to find out who your smartest friends are, but also – the opportunity to learn an interesting thing or two. I took my seat and joined Daniel’s group, our very own PR coordinator, for the evening.

What makes a pub quiz good? Well, my benchmark is set quite high as I’ve had many pub quizzes in the past. Many things contribute to the quality of a pub quiz, and I can surely say that this one was ranked highly by an experienced ‘pub-quizzer’. Let me tell you more about it. 

The categories of the quiz and the backbone for every quiz. No pub quiz is a pub quiz without the ‘classic rounds’. The quiz kicked off with a ‘General Knowledge/History’ round by one of our Introduction Coordinators: Bora. He is an extremely competitive person but has kept the social atmosphere up since activities were moved to online activities. I knew this was going to be a tough round! The great thing about general knowledge rounds is that we always know one or two answers for sure, and the others can be determined by a good guess. 

Feeling confident, Janine took the stage to add an ‘ISN Amsterdam’ flair to the evening. This pub quiz wouldn’t be an ISN Amsterdam pub quiz without a ‘Dutch Culture’ round – do you know how many bridges there are in Amsterdam? Well, the lowest option was 223 which left us all bamboozled!

What pub quizzes remind me of are the history and geography lessons in high school. All the knowledge buried deep inside our memory is brought back to daylight such as the capital city of Australia (always a trick question!). These questions are somewhat nostalgic but also pick your brain a little.

Pub quizzes are super easy to put together and each one of your friends can chip in a little to make a pub quiz an evening to remember! If you couldn’t make this ISN event or miss out, then there are many more fun activities each week to get involved with! Follow our social media channels below to get the latest news on what events and when we have them.

First-year students vs. Corona – by Sol Cristina

While I am a first-year Economics student, this is not my first year as a student at university. I have experienced student life before corona, albeit for a short while. But students who have just started studying for the first time ever (and all students, really) have to deal with crushed social expectations, crashes during online exams (*cough*, UvA), and a lack of motivation due to laggy Zoom sessions. I thought it would be a cool idea to interview two of my friends from high school about studying during corona, not only regarding online classes but more importantly about the social aspect (or rather, the lack of… ).

(On the upper left, we have Romy, 18 years old, a first-year student in Communication and Multimedia Design. She is interested in fashion, make-up, and enjoys gaming from time to time. Secondly, we have Amber, also 18 years old, and a nursing student. In her free time, she enjoys walking her dogs in the park and doing all sorts of creative things.)

What were your pre-corona expectations of studying at (Applied) University?

Amber: “Since I graduated this year during quarantine, I expected that there were going to be quite some changes in education. Socially-wise, the student life that is packed with social activities is obviously not possible anymore.”

Romy: “Before corona kicked in, I expected student life to be: going to uni every day, hanging out with friends, maybe some partying, etc. The usual stuff. Well, these things are kind of still happening now, but the social interaction is minimal, and the ‘hanging out with uni friends’ is mostly done online when we have to work together for projects.”

How often do you interact with your classmates? 

Amber: “We have a Whatsapp group where we communicate about our homework mostly. We don’t really have group projects or interactive Zoom sessions. Our interaction is basically when we’re at the school itself (for theory-based- and practice classes), which used to be three classes on three different days, but now it will change to only two.” 

Romy: “We’re quite active in the group chat. I have sometimes hung out with them, like going for drinks or travelling on the train together, but that is not possible now with the new measures. In conclusion, most of our interaction is really done online through Zoom, for projects, etc.”

What about social life outside of (Applied) University? 

Amber: “It has decreased, for sure. I hang out with a couple of friends once a week, but not a lot, especially now with stricter regulations.”

Romy: “I have a good time with friends at my part-time job, and I occasionally hang out with some other friends, but all of my social interactions are mostly done on my phone, haha.”

How much do you think Corona has impacted students and in what way?

Amber: “It has had a very big impact. I‘m at home a lot, and honestly, I feel kind of lonely. Of course, it depends on what kind of person you are, but I think it does affect every student and perhaps even their mental health (this is the case for me). It’s like they have to “build up” their social life again. For example, I used to be very open and talkative, but now I have become more closed. It seems I just kind of ‘forgot’ how to be social, haha.”

Romy: “Yeah, same for me. I also read that these times depression rates are higher because of the minimal social interaction. Personally, I don’t mind being alone too much (I am an introvert, haha). Social life on my phone is enough for me, but I am aware that this is not the case for everyone and that this situation will definitely impact many people, students in particular.”

What tips do you have for students to still be socially active and keep up with Zoom University?

Amber: “Sometimes we can forget why we’re actually doing this, especially now, because we’re in our rooms the whole day, behind our laptops, following all classes. I can understand it can really demotivate some people, and me too. But always keep in mind that you’re doing this for your future! For me, I want to become a good nurse. If you miss social contact, it’s an option to just hold weekly Zooms with friends, or download friend- and dating apps, or occasionally hang out with a friend in calm places, at each other’s place, etc.”

Romy: “Make good planning. I find myself sometimes having to stay up all night because I have so many deadlines, which is why planning is key. And if you feel a little less motivated, remind yourself why you are doing this, like Amber said, think of your goal.”

If you have similar experiences or want to share some of your own feelings on other subjects, free to contact us through our social media and maybe you will find a place on our blog. Don’t feel afraid to contact us, we are always excited to get in touch with you.

Future Events

Corona might still be going on, but that won’t stop us from creating events and content for you! We have many events planned that you can take a part in from your homes. We know that times may be hard to find new people to interact with and discover new activities to do to pass the time. That is why ISN Amsterdam wants to give you all the opportunity to an exciting academic year, even from your bedrooms! So follow us and join our events, we hope to see you around.

Sunday (November 15th) – Comedy Show with Comedy Undergradz (19:00 – 20:00)

Wednesday (November 18th) – Online Wednesday: Origami & Wine (20:00 – 21:30)

Friday (November 20th) – I*ESN Tilburg Carpe Corona Cantus (19:30 – 22:00)

Thank you for reading our blog! We post every other week on Thursday, so keep your eyes peeled for our next addition! Do you want to be featured in our blog? Contact us and we’ll be happy to find a way to include you into our ISN Family!

Blog 1 – ISN in Quarantine

29th October 2020

Welcome to the first edition of the International Student Network (ISN) Amsterdam Blog! We will keep you all posted about everything from what’s been happening at ISN Amsterdam, to upcoming events, to what’s going on in the city itself, and much much more! The best thing for you all out there is you can get involved, and we’d all love you too! Please reach out to the team if you’d like to appear on our blog!

Our blog is run by a team of students – we’ll be updating you with exciting content every other Thursday, with our next post being the 12th November! Keep your eyes peeled!

Sol – Reporter

Daniel – Editor

James – Reporter

ISN Wednesday’s: Among Us (7th October 2020) – By James

With Coco’s Outback no longer being the spotlight for ISN Amsterdam on Wednesday nights, I joined ISN Amsterdam’s first edition of ‘Online Wednesdays’ on the 7th October over Discord. Debuting the event would be ‘Among Us – a game which I haven’t taken my eyes off since it went viral earlier this year.  

What is Among Us? Firstly – it’s a great way for a large group of friends to come together. The game is set on a spaceship and is based off of deduction. At the beginning, each member is assigned the role of ‘crewmate’ or ‘imposter’. The majority are crewmates, whose aim is to complete tasks onboard to save the spaceship. However, in and ‘amongst everyone lie between 1-3 imposters. Their aim is to kill the crewmates whilst they complete their tasks. Players remain silent for the majority of the game, and only allowed to talk during ‘meetings’. These can be initiated upon reporting the death of a crewmate, or by pressing the ‘emergency’ button. 

As an imposter, I would use my favourite ‘sabotage’ in the game: turning the lights off. Whilst crewmates remain in the blind, myself and the other imposter could go off on a killing spree until the lights get fixed. 

As a crewmate, I would follow people I suspect were imposters, and see if they would actually be completing their tasks. You can see this in the task completion meter of the game. Most of the time this worked, but this tactic was risky. I could be dubbed as a ‘third imposter’, where I help the imposter vote innocent people whilst they sit back and win the game! 

Will you be successful as crewmates, or will the imposters get to you? Among Us is a great way to be able to sniff out who the best (and worst) liars are in your friendship group; who can you trust and who you can’t. More so, Among Us was just one of many ways that ISN can bring you together. There is always something going on every Wednesday at 8:00pm, so don’t forget to follow us on social media to find out! 

CoronaMelder: the App that makes the change – By Sol Cristina

Have you already heard of the Coronamelderapp that has been downloaded for over 2,5 million times? If not, you should definitely get it. The app fights against the spread of the coronavirus in the Netherlands with a smart and easy algorithm:

First, you download the app on App Store or Google Play (*links) and set up your account.

If you have been in close contact with someone *(for over 15 minutes) who turns out to have COVID-19, you will get a notification.  You can also find information on the app about what you are then recommended to do. The app itself doesn’t know who both of you are or where you’ve met, it only knows what day it was. 

If you yourself have been tested positive and you know who the people are that you have been in contact with, the app will take care that the GGD (health organisation in the Netherlands) calls these people without mentioning your name if you prefer. But, it’s also likely you have been in close contact (for again over 15 minutes) with people you don’t know. To solve this problem, you can report it with the GGD, so CoronaMelder can give a notification to all people who have been in close contact with you.

Every download of this app counts. Keep in mind that: “Alleen samen krijgen wij corona onder controle” (Translation: “Only together can we get a hold of corona”)

21 Days of Sustainability – By Sol Cristina

Since the 10th of October was the day of Sustainability, UvA Green Office challenged us to participate in the 21 days of Sustainability. You probably have seen stories of people participating in the challenge on ISN’s Instagram (such as growing their own food or picking up trash), and I too have tried my best to follow along. With the following picture, they gave us fun ideas to be more sustainable:

The first idea that caught my eye was “Eat Vegan for a week”. I am already a vegetarian, so I figured going vegan for a week was not going to be that hard. YouTube is the place to be for these recipes: I have found many that were not only easy to follow but also very delicious. I recommend saving some vegan recipes that you can do every now and then to bring more variety to your lunches or dinners. 

While I was working on my vegan recipes, I have also been focusing on zero-waste eating. For zero-waste eating, you can start buying more from organic stores, like I have done in the past weeks; or in general, put more thought into your food and how much you actually need, so that you don’t overbuy. Less waste is less cleaning, so that’s also a great incentive to start becoming more zero-waste. Plus, it will save you money. In short, it’s not only good for the environment, but also good for you. Remember: more does not necessarily mean more value!

It does take some effort to try out these sustainable ideas, but there are also things you can start doing right now. These are, for example: lowering the temperature of your house, taking shorter and cold showers, or using a reusable face mask. And don’t forget to use that free time on your train ride to listen to podcasts on sustainability. Every small change, is a change. 

So, are you in for the challenge? 

Thank you for reading our blog! We post every other week on Thursday, so keep your eyes peeled for our next addition! Do you want to be featured in our blog? Contact us and we’ll be happy to find a way to include you into our ISN Family!