Academic life and family life in the time of Corona  

Youssef Kanjou

My academic work as a researcher in Middle Eastern archaeology at the University of Tübingen and in the field of research usually does not happen at home. At the same time, my children are usually in schools and kindergartens. The situation, now, has changed because of the Corona virus: I can no longer go to university and my children are permanently at home.

That has forced me to change my social and scientific lifestyle: on the one hand, I work from home and on the other hand, my family life challenges me. It costs a lot of time to supervise the school work of my children and help them with it at home. To do this, I need to provide them with my own computer to learn and print learning materials. But more importantly, I spend time with them and try to look for ways to entertain them.

My research, which included not only going to university but also frequent trips to Berlin, has also changed, since all scientific meetings now take place via the Internet. My work as part of an international team which documents Syria’s cultural heritage is challenged because it is now impossible to meet my colleagues. Furthermore, the scientific conferences I wanted to attend in Italy and Turkey have also been cancelled.

I feel that my time for scientific research and writing essays has been limited, so I cannot complete my work as planned. At the same time, communication has intensified with Syrian students and researchers who have questions about scientific literature, bibliography and their academic future.

For me, it is very interesting to see that I now share my computer with my young children because it has become a place for them to order gifts and games over the Internet. Sitting at the computer in my office means that the supermarket is open and they can buy anything they like! I use my skills to search online, for example, for toys that my children ask for. I also had to learn many games from them that did not exist when I was a child.

What is particularly remarkable to me is that my children understand the importance of staying at home and not complaining about it. On the contrary, they always say: “We have a lockdown and should not go out or come close to others.” Sometimes their friends walk past our house and talk to them loudly from a distance for a short while. At the same time, they miss their friends from the kindergarten very much. They also communicate with their friends via WhatsApp, which makes them very happy. I started making short videos with them of some games and songs, which they love. This has become almost a daily habit and a way to spend time together.

I hope that the corona crisis will soon pass, so that social contacts can once again take place and that everyday work will not be forgotten, may it be at universities or at schools.

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Impressionen zum Leben in Zeiten der Corona-Pandemie: Foto: tünews INTERNATIONAL; Mostafa Elyasian, 19.04.2020

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