Keep track of your feelings and share them
When Costanza Spadafora started working at the Student Wellbeing Point, she had just come out of a difficult year. She found it difficult to adjust to a new country and a different study program. Making friends was not easy either, she had to learn to deal with the loneliness and alienation caused by the pandemic. Her personal setbacks and what she picked up while studying psychology gave Costanza the motivation to start helping other students.
When I joined this project, I knew that a space like the Student Wellbeing Point could be incredibly helpful to students who, like me, have many difficulties to overcome. Especially for those who don't feel comfortable approaching a more formal form of service, or don't know where to turn with their questions in the first place. I could never have imagined how powerful a judgment-free, candid interaction between fellow students can be. Whether they're just looking for practical support, having a bad day, or really needing professional help. It helps in all cases to have such a conversation.
Students come to us all day long with all kinds of questions about exams, financial matters, housing requests and study delays. Some go to the Student Desk, where they ask their practical questions and receive a practical solution as an answer. Usually they find the answers they are looking for, and they have found enough support.
Because we are right next to the Student Desk, students also come to talk to us, before or after their conversation at the Desk. We then ask how they are doing and usually soon after they share with us their small and bigger daily struggles of student life.
How are you doing is a simple question, but it's a topic students often don't talk about in their busy university lives. Sharing emotions — whether it's anxiety, excitement, boredom or joy — is the way to get and stay in touch with yourself. For some, such a question can be a boost so they can start the day with a little more energy, for others it is an opportunity to make sure that small problems don't become bigger, precisely by not ignoring them, but discussing and addressing them now.
Reaching for support while experiencing hardship is hard, but sometimes it can be just as difficult to take that step when one feels their struggles are not that severe. Especially then it can be very helpful to know that the VU has numerous services and initiatives that can improve the well-being of its students, even of those who are thriving already.
The Student Wellbeing Point is here for everyone, since everyone can improve their wellbeing. Be sure to stop by!
Tip: Keep a journal for at least 20 minutes a day. Try to keep track of your feelings and express them as precisely as possible. This will motivate and help you pursue what is important to you.