A TA's Unofficial Guide on Studying in a Pandemic

How to effectively continue your studies during the COVID-19 pandemic as an IHEID student

by Lena Holzer

The current situation poses novel challenges to the students at IHEID. This document shall provide you with some basic advice on how to continue your studies and live through the next months. It is certainly not complete but builds upon information found online and shared by different members of the IHEID Community, complied by an IHEID Teaching Assistant. Feel free to circulate and add on to it – we can all learn from each other in this new situation. 

Stay physically and mentally healthy!

The first objective for the next months is to stay physically and mentally healthy. As everybody is different, you will need to find out what works for you to retain your mental and physical health. Take a moment to think about the measures that you can implement in your everyday. This could include cooking healthy and yummy food, doing physical exercise (online sports classes), being creative (e.g. painting, writing texts), learning something new (e.g. a language), meditating, listening to or do music, skyping with friends and finding other distractions (e.g. books, video games, movies). Moreover, do not stay alone with your concerns and fears, but contact your friends and family members when you need to talk. In addition, IHEID provides free online psychological service to its students and you can also make an appointment with the psychologists from UNIGE Pôle Santé. Moreover, if you need any help, such as with shopping due to self-quarantine or somebody to talk to, contact the IHEID solidarity initiative

Communicate with your classmates!

As you will no longer see your classmates in the institute every day, make sure to stay in touch with them. This will help you to overcome the feeling of isolation in front of your computer. Moreover, it will also allow you to ask your classmates advice and clarifications on assignments. Ways to stay in touch are whatsapp groups, facebook and other social media. In case you have difficulties motivating yourself to study at home, you can try to set up study groups with your classmates. For example, you can give each other targets that need to be reached until you meet for lunch break or a coffee break on skype. 

Communicate with your professors and TAs!

Watch out for instructions by your professors and TAs and follow them carefully. Your teachers will do the best to guide you through the semester and make the transition to online teaching easy. If you have any questions or need some advice/help, do not shy away from contacting your professors and TAs. They will continue holding their office hours and are available online. However, they might not be able to reply to your concerns immediately, which means that you should ask your questions on assignments far in advance to a deadline. As your teachers know that the current situation can be challenging for many students (additional care work responsibilities, illness, stress etc.), they will do their best to accommodate your personal situations. Yet, as before, if you have any known special needs or need an extension at the end of the semester for final assignments, you will need to contact Students Support or your Academic Advisor Laurent Neury.

Set up a good study environment at home!

In order to be able to continue your studies, you must set up an environment which is conducive to it. This not only means having a table, a comfortable chair and good light, but also making sure, as far as possible, to be able to connect to internet when needed. There are instructions on how to connect to a Google Meets conference. Try to avoid certain distractions during study time. For example, it can help the concentration to turn off any social media (e.g. put phone on flight mode and log out from facebook) and ask your flat mates or family for some “quiet” hours per day. Earplugs and noise-cancelling headphones can do wonder to your concentration. Moreover, if possible, it is good to separate your working station from the place where you spend your breaks and free time (e.g. move from desk to bed or kitchen). Set up your VPN to access the IHEID library’s online sources for assignments, but please connect to it only when you need it, since it can sustain a limited number of persons and many people will use it now. Consult the IHEID library blog for assistance on online research and check out the online sources made available for free by several publisher houses, including Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press.

Find a routine and prepare your semester!

As not only your study environment has changed but also the structure of many classes, take a moment to prepare the rest of your semester. Figure out how the classes and the assignments for the classes have been modified and mark relevant deadlines in your agenda. Furthermore, most people study better if they have a routine, so think about how you can continue your routine for the next months and during which time of the day you are the most productive. To-do lists can help you to have an overview of what you need to do and not to forget certain tasks and have-done list can show you what you have already accomplished.   

Plan your financial security!

In times of a pandemic, many people and their family members are losing their job and face severe financial difficulties. If you are one of them, please inquire with IHEID whether you qualify for emergency scholarships. The IHEID direction also seems to work on a more coordinated response to financial needs. Watch out for any news on this. Moreover, some student initiatives, such as the Welfare Committee and Parents Initiative, are ready to use their limited funds for helping students out with some small expenses. Thus, also watch out for any of their announcements. 

Know where to get information on the coronavirus!

Follow the information and guidance on the COVID-19 situation provided by reliable institutions, such as the WHO. At times, it can also be helpful to limit your exposure to media coverage on the situation, as receiving constant and excessive information can create worries and anxiety. However, find out what to do in a case of a COVID-19-related emergency in your town, wherever you are. If you have coronavirus symptoms in Geneva, you can call your doctor, call the COVID-19 hotline at 0800 909 400 (every day from 9:00 to 21:00) or the 144 emergency number. The institute has also two email-addresses where you can ask information concerning the coronavirus: 

For further information, please see here

Know your resources at IHEID!

The Graduate Press has collected many great resources that can make your life easier during your time in Geneva. Check out their updates on this website. In addition, find some of the IHEID resources below: 

Together, we can do this!

Featured image by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

5 comments on “A TA's Unofficial Guide on Studying in a Pandemic

  1. Lena Holzer

    Students support also advised to keep a diary, where you can write down your feelings (positive and negative ones), how your day went and goals for the next days.


  2. Lena Holzer

    Moreover, domestic violence as well as violence on the stress is rising during confinement. If you experience violence at home or witness violence, you can help at the following addresses.

    ⚪️ CENTRES DE CONSULTATION : free and confidential services

    ☎️ CENTRE LAVI – Consultation for victims
    Phone: 022 320 01 02
    Mon-Fri: 14h-17h
    📧 :

    Phone : 022 797 10 10
    Lu-Ma-Je-Ve : 14h-17h
    Me-Ve : 9h-12h
    📧 :

    ☎️ UNITÉ INTERDISCIPLINAIRE DE MÉDECINE ET DE PRÉVENTION DE LA VIOLENCE (UIMPV) – Service for victims of violence and aggressors
    Permanence téléphonique : 022 372 96 41
    Lu-Ve : 9h-12h / 14h-17h
    📧 :

    ☎️ VIOL SECOURS – Consultation for women, trans persons and intersex persons above 16 years who experience sexual violence
    Phone : 022 345 20 20
    Ma : 14h-17h30
    Me : 14h-17h30
    Je : 9h30-13h
    📧 :

    ☎️ SOS ENFANTS – Consultation for children, teenagers and parents
    Permanence téléphonique : 022 312 11 12
    Ma-Me-Je : 9h-17h
    📧 :

    🔴 Witnesses : The role of witnesses is crucial, especially those by neighbours. If you suspect violence happening in your neighbour’s house, consult the following sites or call the emergency numbers.


  3. Pingback: COVID-19 Updates and Resources – The Graduate Press

  4. Pingback: IHEID: An (Unofficial) Orientation Guide – The Graduate Press

  5. Pingback: The Graduate Press Wrapped – A year in review – The Graduate Press

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