The Lockdown Diaries: Living a creative life in 30 sq. mts. of Berlin

10 Jun

Janak Mulchandani
Janak Mulchandani

Janak Mulchandani, a full-time Master in Management student at ESMT Berlin, originally from Delhi writes about his experience as an International student in Berlin during COVID-19.

Late in 2018, while working for a German company in Gurgaon India, I decided to learn German for the sake of communicating better with my colleagues in Bielefeld, Germany. Never did I think that it would lead me to Germany to pursue a Masters in Management from a young but reputable college like ESMT Berlin.

Every day in March was full of stress. My class timings had doubled. I still needed to look for an internship, while managing to study a bit of German to clear the B1 level exam. News of a new virus killing people became the most talked about topic, and suddenly all I was focusing on was keeping myself safe from it. Learning German and finding internships were not that important anymore. Thankfully ESMT allowed us to attend classes in person or via Zoom at our homes. After 9th March, I did not step out of my house for 32 days straight. During this time, the government regulations forced our college management to conduct lectures online for the rest of the semester.

Life in a 30 sq.m. apartment became quite dull. From the bed  to the study table to the kitchen was all the travelling I did. Apart from the lectures, ESMT delivered all the necessary public information to us in English, and our fantastic librarian would forward us amazing articles to read. All of it was not enough for me, and so I started dialing all my friends wanting to know how they were coping with the situation. At the end of March, I had a compelling call with Sebastian Heiner, a contemporary artist in Berlin, who wanted to test my business expertise in his business.

Janak Mulchandani at the European School of Management and Technology in Berlin

With April, the core semester was over, and now began the internship semester, where we need to work for at least 12 weeks. With Sebastian, I am helping him to expand his business from paintings to carpets. I have contacted and onboarded professional rug manufacturers, and licensed his paintings which were to appear on the rugs. As this mini-project was about to finish, I got another opportunity to work for a social cause: organizing and strategizing the functioning of the 1000-year-old Tabo Monastery in Spiti Valley. A commitment like this is 10 years long or even more, and now I don’t feel bored in my room any more.

In a week, I will travel to Bielefeld Germany for a 3-months internship with Böllhoff Group, the same company I worked for in Gurgaon. It makes me wonder about what the new normal will look like. Will I work in an office or from home? How long will this go on? Is Zoom the new conference room and are tuxedo jackets with shorts the new business formal? Only time will tell.

Germany has relaxed its lockdown significantly in June but the fear of an infection from Covid-19 prevails. The concern is even more when shifting between cities.

Corona isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But coping with the changes and uncertainties is what has kept me moving forward.


By Janak Mulchandani

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