During work at the MUMC, in 2018/ Loraine Bodewes
(No) (Wo)man at work
(Wo)man at work. That was the name of a series about students and the jobs they do, published last academic year. How are they doing during this corona crisis? Can they do anything for their employers or have they been sent home? Aside from the students in the series, we will also hear from others. This time: Kristel Zaal, third-year student of Psychology. She took a break in patient catering for the moment.
She is not good at being “alone”, so she has left her room and is living with her boyfriend in Eindhoven for the time being. A disadvantage is that she can’t work at the hospital in Maastricht. Observant followed Kristel Zaal (23) while she performed her duties in patient catering. Until a month ago, she was there five times a week, working shifts of one and a half hours each time. She prepared meals that had been ordered on an assembly line, with brown or white bread, chocolate sprinkles, jam, desserts and soups.
She is avoiding the loneliness, even if it is at the expense of income. By the way, she had not been allowed to work for some time anyway. Zaal, chairperson of Maastricht student swimming association Tiburon, was at a winter sports resort in France with more than a hundred students from across the country, halfway through March. “The corona virus had reached Europe, it haunted in particular the North of Italy, but had not yet flared up so intensely in other countries. Skiing in France was not discouraged yet.”
A lot changed in one week. The French government closed all winter sports resorts with immediate effect on March 15. In the Netherlands, prime minister Mark Rutte announced the closure of all schools and catering businesses. “We were returning home anyway, because our holiday was over, but it felt really strange, it happened very fast.”
It felt like “real panic” back in the Netherlands, says Zaal, more so because a fellow traveller – a student from another city – had all kinds of corona symptoms during the trip. Everyone who had been there, suddenly belonged to a ‘high-risk group’. “It was recommended that we all went into quarantine. My boyfriend had also been on the winter sports holiday, so, fortunately we could stay inside together. Working was of course not possible.” Whether the student actually had the virus, is not known. “He wasn’t tested.” She was at least spared any bronchial symptoms or fever.
They are crying out for more help in the hospital, but not at patient catering, says Zaal, they are not in dire need yet. “As far as I know, the job agency has had no problems filling the roster. Still, for Zaal this means that she is losing out on about 250 euro a month. “So that can’t go into my savings.” She has the maximum student loan. Zaal pays her rent and recurring expenses from that. Despite her financial buffer, she hopes that the situation doesn’t go on for very long. “I would rather not touch my savings.”
In answer to the question when she thinks she can return to work, she has no answer. “First the measures have to become less rigid.” In other words: that her social life becomes livelier. For example, that the weekly swimming training can start up again and we can have a drink together afterwards. “But I don’t see that happening any time soon.