If you had asked me three months ago how the start of my Master thesis project would have gone, I would have definitely not predicted that things would have been the way they are now. Instead of working from the group office at DIFFER, all work is now done from home. Altogether this has been a double-sided experience, although I must preface my short story by saying that I am glad that the computational nature of the project allows me to work on it from home, I cannot wait to be able to go back to the office again.

Workspace set-up for working from home, which has been rather productive as a result of the large screens.

Despite everyone in the group working from home, plentiful interactions within the group remain, with the weekly group meetings proceeding as usual and numerous pathways for online one-on-one contact with each other. Nonetheless, the days of work have changed considerably from working from the DIFFER office. To name one example: usually I would share the office with several hard-working colleagues, at my home they have been replaced by one lazy cat. Having experienced this change of colleagues, I long back to the days where I could have short chats, coffee breaks and lunches with these hard-working colleagues.

Demonstration of the work ethic of my cat. Left: The cat has decided that a separate chair in my room is right for her. Right: Having gone downstairs for dinner myself, the cat determined that my chair is a better fit for her main activity: sleeping.

Nonetheless, working from home does not only have downsides, but also some positives. I now save about two hours each day, since I no longer have to travel to the office at DIFFER by train. To typical Dutch tradition, I have used these extra hours to explore the nature around my home by bike, which is a nice change from sitting behind your computer. I have (re)discovered a lot of beautiful places of nature near my house, which I had either forgotten about or did not know of in the first place and at the same time I am able to enjoy the fresh air and sunlight.

Some examples of the nice places of nature that I have come across during my biking trips. Left: a small meandering river. Right: a large dune area.

Lastly, I would like to share that I have also undergone something that seems to have become a tradition within the group, with Haibo and Shuxia as trendsetters: a haircut at home. With the hairdressers closed it was about time that my ever-growing hair would be downsized a bit. Making use of a hair trimmer and some helpful family members, a new and, more importantly, a satisfactory haircut was obtained 😊.