How has the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic affected the lives of students and expats in the North? The Northern Times asked students from NHL Stenden in Leeuwarden to find out. This first interview in the series is with Anna, originally from Estonia, but now living in Leeuwarden. “The pandemic and quarantine made social interactions much less, compared to what it before. So, no parties, hanging out”, she says.
Interview by Yulia Liubetca
Written by Meike Schridde
Meet Anna. She is twenty years old and originally from Estonia, but moved to Leeuwarden in 2018 to study ‘Global responsibility and leadership’ at the University of Groningen’s Campus Fryslân.
‘I’m missing some of the more joyful parts very much’
The biggest affect the ongoing pandemic has had, she says, is on her social life: “The pandemic and quarantine made social interactions much less, compared to what it before. So, no parties, hanging outs”. Anna’s studies were able to continue, however they now take place exclusively online. She concludes, “most of the discussions are now very formal. It made everything more official and I’m missing some of the more joyful parts very much.”
The entire inter-personal aspect of being a student has disappeared, says Anne, which has had serious effects on her personal life as well. Anna could not travel to her home country for more than half a year. When she finally did, she had difficulties coming back to the Netherlands.
“I haven’t seen my friends that much, because some of them had to leave for their home country at the beginning of the pandemic”, she says. So not only did Anna had to miss out on interactions with her peers at university, but also with her close friends. “It affected my life quite seriously, I would say, and I really hope that it will be over soon.”
To adapt to and cope with the situation, Anna says that she has set up priorities for herself and planned them out. “It wasn’t that hard to implement those plans, but I disliked that lots of them were cancelled due to the development of the Corona Virus everywhere.”
Situation is getting worse every day
She learnt that she has to adapt her priorities and keep on planning, “because the situation is not over yet and it’s seems to be getting worse every day.”
Anna realised that she is mentally stronger than she thought in terms of managing such a delicate and unsure situation. But with the strength comes tenderness: “I learned that I can really miss my family and my country from time to time. Having no opportunity to go home at any moment makes everything quite harsh and makes you feel more homesick.”
In terms of her studies, Anna has managed to arrange herself rather well. She explained that she adjusted to the online education but still prefers in-person education much more: “I think when it will be normal again, we will appreciate it much more than before.”
Overall, Anna, more than anything, wants the pandemic to be over, “But, I guess we’re just here to see what happens. We don’t have much influence and much to say indeed. The only thing left for us are sticking to the measurements and trying to be healthy as long as it is possible.”