I’m C V R Shastry, an international student who like you was stuck in the New Zealand lockdown. You can get to know me a little better though this video:
After this video went live I got asked lots of questions about my optimism, my productiveness, my routines and schedules, and most importantly, how I beat the idleness, boredom and claustrophobia of the lockdown.
Did you struggle with finishing your assignments during lockdown? Did you struggle with being isolated from your mates? Did you struggle with anxiety and depression about being away from your family, or worrying about finances and the risk of losing your job? How did you handle these unprecedented challenges? How did I deal with it myself?
I understand this experience has been overwhelming for many of us here. I had this feeling too initially, but then I learnt to enjoy the lockdown, and was able to be very productive.
Everything we’ve been through during lockdown is a lesson that can be applied to everyday life as an international student.
Read on to learn more about my productiveness mantras.
1. Focus on your passions
During lockdown I worked on my research, learnt a new language, wrote and published a few blog articles, participated in two hackathons, applied for a few other projects, all while prioritising my individual health and safety from a physical, mental, social and spiritual aspect.
What is your passion? Netflix? Playstation? PubG? Painting? Cooking? Knitting? Your pet turtle? Whatever it is, you could spend hours and days on it, without any guilt during lockdown. And then bask in the glory of achieving something productive.
Now that we’re not in lockdown anymore, you might not have so much time, but the glory of achieving something you’re passionate about still applies. Keep it up!
For future international students, if you’re still in lockdown where you live, this could be an ideal time to prepare for IELTS or PTE online if you are required to submit the test scores for your education in New Zealand.
2. Stay fit and healthy
The most important reason behind the lockdown was the health and well-being of the public, including international students like you and me. Health does not only mean physical health, but also mental, social and spiritual health.
During lockdown, you could meditate, or pray, or simply cherish the experience of mindfulness within your bubble. You could cut down on anxiety and worry by staying away from the tsunami of information on social media, and watch puppy videos or look at cat pictures. Plus connect with old mates, talk about old times – you may have felt nostalgic and not wanted to feel alone.
Why not keep up these good habits? Remember, health is wealth. Even in everyday life, a healthy mind resides in a healthy body.
3. Build your professional profile
Let’s be honest: jobs are always on our minds as international students. If you’re looking for work, it’s always a good time to work on your profile.
Build your LinkedIn profile, or polish it off if you already have one. Ask your connections to review it for you, and work on their feedback. Ask them what needs addressing. Missing skills? Certifications? Recommendations? Projects? Or do you need more connections?
Check out the LinkedIn profiles of other successful professionals in your area. Engage with their content, while trying to build a similar profile for yourself. You may find you attract some potential future recruiters. It is not always about what you know, but who you know.
Many organisations are resuming hiring so you may strike gold at any time if you aim right.
4. Volunteer for your local causes
As we move out of lockdown, it continues to be a hard time for a lot of people - not just students. There are many members of society who are struggling, and many charities are helping the poor and elderly.
Charities and organisations such as the Red Cross, White Cross and your neighbourhood charities are seeking volunteers to help which may include delivering grocery supplies, putting together food parcels or clothing, or other essential tasks as needed.
Please look up volunteering opportunities in your city for more information, or else contact the student body of your university or institute for more information on what’s available in your area.
Relish the experience of the joy of giving, if you haven’t yet. If you are studying nursing or paramedicine, and/or you have a drivers licence, this may be of even more use. Don’t forget to mention your volunteering experience on your resume as it will impress your future recruiters.
5. Learn new skills
I learnt a new language and participated in two hackathons during the lockdown which kept me busy. Plus, I explored my modelling skills (in more ways than one), by featuring in some videos for Study in New Zealand, in pictures for a local newsletter, and by training some new machine learning models for my uni project. I also learnt how to create new videos – I made some silly meme video content myself. Overall, this can be a really rewarding and enriching experience.
It’s so rewarding to take the time to gain additional professional skills and certifications. You can always sign up for free online courses or certification programmes over and above your study, which can be useful and recognised professionally when you seek jobs and attend interviews.
6. Focus on your study and/or university club commitments
But overall, don’t forget the main reason you are in New Zealand, which is to study. Online lectures may be around for a while, so please remember to focus on your education and grades. Keep in touch with your classmates and look out for each other. Learn to work in groups virtually. Group projects will be great practice, since working from home could be more mainstream in a post-Covid world.
Online lectures may be a new experience, and here are some commandments to make your online education experience more productive:
- Thou shalt arrive on time for a zui (zoom hui)
- Thou shalt not bother wearing anything formal under the waist for a zui.
- Thou shalt eat your cookie/crisps after you switch off your mic.
- Thou shalt pretend to pay attention on the zui, when you're checking your social media feed simultaneously.
- Thou shalt keep your pet away from the zoom-room, to avoid barking sounds in the background during a zui.
- Thou shalt close all NSFW (not safe for work) windows before activating screen-sharing on your zoom session.
- Thou shalt only discuss the relevant topics when you meet for virtual group assignments.
- Thou shalt feel creative with virtual backgrounds in a zui.
- Thou shalt turn off the mic and cam, but not disconnect the call, when you take a loo break in the middle of a zui.
- Thou shalt achieve the meeting objective at the end of the zui.
May the bandwidth be with you.
I hope these productiveness mantras are helpful and may help to maximise your productiveness in the long term.
If you feel you could not utilise your time at home during the lockdown, fret not. You still helped by staying at home, and you deserve a pat on the back for your feat. You can be more productive and efficient now, as we march onward to a more resilient era ahead.