Moving forward to a new normal

Rector's blog

It is October 2021 and the ISS building is once again buzzing: with our MA students attending classes or meeting to discuss their research paper; with PhD researchers working on their thesis; with colleagues teaching or writing about their research; with colleagues supporting our activities and …. with all of us meeting and greeting each other again in person after such a long of time of online meetings only. The laughter, the enthusiasm in seeing each other again in real life (rather than just a face on a screen), the feeling of happiness that this creates, to connect again ….

It is a wonderful and happy time. After over one and a half years we are going back to normal. But will we indeed go back to normal, the old normal? Or are we moving forward, to a new normal? Moving from a liminal phase - an in-between period - of which I spoke in my last blog, into a new stage? Is it a transition? Can it be transformative?

The corona crisis has been tough and long; with its lockdowns, curfews, physical distancing and facemasks; with learning and working from home. Our physical and mental well-being has been affected, some of us facing illness and even the death of loved ones. Here in The Hague we can now hopefully step into this new normal, whilst taking with us what we have learned in and from the corona crisis.

So, what have I learned over the past year and a half? And what do I want to take with me into this new normal? The corona crisis has made very clear how important my relationships with others are and what it means to feel at home in The Hague, in my neighbourhood. I have re-discovered a feeling of ‘home’, rediscovering how it complements my full and busy working life, providing me with more balance. I have rediscovered playing tennis, being outside in all weathers. I have walked a lot: to the beach, in the woods, and discovered neighbourhoods in The Hague that I did not know. I have learned that online meetings are tiring but can also be inspirational, enabling me to meet members of the global ISS community.

I hope to be able to keep these rediscoveries alive, to live a slower life, and create more balance between my work and personal life. And right now, I hope that this happiness in meeting each other in person, in sharing stories and laughter again, will last for a long time!

I also wish you happiness and a slow life. And, if you are still deep in the corona crisis, I wish that you too will soon be able to move forward to a new normal.

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