Gesa is our working student in the Rights of Children and Youth Team. Before, she was volunteering for the World Future Council in the Admin team.
Author: Gesa Dolkemeyer, About virtual friendship, Nordic countries and sustainability, and new adventures during the pandemic
About virtual friendship, Nordic countries and sustainability, and new adventures during the pandemic
When the pandemic started, I was in the middle of finishing up my bachelor studies in Malmö, Sweden. As I was writing my bachelor thesis about South-Korea’s development policies at that point, Covid-19 had little impact on my life in the beginning. I was stuck at home or in the library either way trying to wrap up the things I had learnt for the past two and a half years. Moreover, I was in a country that had a different approach to the whole situation as most other parts of the world. Whether it was a better or worse approach is more than questionable but for me it meant that I was able to finish my studies in Sweden in a good way. That also meant that I was lucky enough to have the opportunity of a real good-bye from my friends.
Still, as I left Sweden it was uncertain when I would be able to see my friends again, as most of them either stayed in Sweden or moved back to their respective countries. And it was not only the distance but now also the Covid restrictions that made a possibly reunion difficult.
Starting a new chapter of life, I moved to Hamburg to start working at the World Future Council. Out of my closest friend one stayed in Sweden, one moved back to Finland, and one moved back to Scotland. This meant we were not only in four different countries but also in three different time zones. Who would have thought that now I still feel closer to them than maybe I ever have before?
Covid has definitely played its role in this development. For one, all four of us had more time on our hands, due to the fact that activities were very limited for most of the year that has passed since we finished our bachelor. That meant more time and flexibility for video and zoom calls.
We started to hang out weekly on zoom, just talking and playing games. It felt surprisingly less different from when we used to be together several times a week back in Sweden. As I had moved to a new city, where I knew no one really, I was more than happy to at least have some virtual meet-ups and my close friend that I could share with what was happening in my life. So, while Covid made it hard to settle in Hamburg and make the new city a home for me, it was also easier to keep in touch with my friends abroad.
As the pandemic was winding down, it began to show that maybe keeping in touch would become more difficult with all of us starting routines in their own places again. So, one of us came up with a great idea to integrate our weekly meetings into our own routines and at the same time start a new fun activity together: A podcast! We usually liked discussing topics that were brought up throughout our studies and put everyday news into our own perspective. Especially topics around the Nordic countries and their external image were a reoccurring theme, as we had all lived in one of the countries together and found that the way they were portrayed was not necessarily the reality. So we were excited to use our enthusiasm for discussing in a new way. A podcast would on the one hand enable us to gain more experience in formulating and discussing our thoughts in a different format. On the other hand, we would be able to share our perspectives with other people who would hopefully find them interesting and stimulating. When one of us found out about a funding opportunity with the Nordic Youth in Sustainable Communities, we put our ideas into action and applied for the funding.
Now it was determined that we were starting this new project together, which would be both a great experience for us as a group and also a great asset to our CVs! We got granted a small amount of funding, therefore there was nothing stopping us from setting up a Drive folder and diving right into it. The thematic focus was to be “sustainability and the Nordic Countries”, as that was an issue we were interested in personally and at the same time fitting the support we got from the Nordic Youth in Sustainable Communities. With the podcast, our weekly Zoom meetings continued and besides working on the project we were able to still share the ups and downs of our daily lives.
The first episode of the podcast has been published this week and focuses on the earth overshoot day in the Nordic Countries. You can listen to our podcast on all relevant platforms, and you find us under The Social Balcony – Demystifying the Nordic Utopia.
All in all, for me personally, the pandemic has shown that it is possible to find new ways of communicating and interacting with friends far away. And despite it all, we were able to still create new adventures together even if we were a few thousand kilometers apart.
If you want to follow our journey going forward and are interested in sustainability and the Nordic Country, please feel free to listen to our podcast and follow us on all relevant social media channels under @socialbalcony!
Listen to our first episode on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/37mlr8yBDrXXWHolcnF6Ya
Our Website: The Social Balcony – Demystifying the Nordic Utopia
Our Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thesocialbalcony/