Archive Olsi Sokolli
Olsi Sokolli is a bachelor’s student of European Studies. His original plan was to go into self-quarantine at home with his family in Altamura, in southern Italy. He had already bought his ticket, but his flight was cancelled at the last minute. “I thought it was a sign.” He decided to stay in Maastricht.
He was the only one in his student house to do so. “I live in a house with nine Dutch guys. They’ve all gone home. One of them comes back every two weeks. I spent Easter with him and his family. They’re very nice people. We did an egg hunt in the garden and through the whole house. It was a lot of fun.”
There is an apartment on the top floor of the house where he lives. “We don’t really have contact with the person who lives there, but he has to go through our house to reach his own front door. He’s a doctor. A while ago, he let us know that he had become infected with the virus. We don’t share any rooms and he no longer has symptoms, but I’m not taking any chances. I try not to touch the doorknobs and handrails and I clean every day. This is probably the cleanest student house in Maastricht, haha.”
Fortunately, none of his family members in Italy have been infected with the virus. “The situation isn’t quite as bad in the south”, he explains. “Strict preventive measures were taken to prevent southern Italy from heading in the same direction as northern Italy. If it had, the Italian health care system would have collapsed.” People in his hometown are allowed to go outside, “but you need a form to leave the neighbourhood. If you don’t have one, you could face a fine of up to 450 euros.”
Sokolli mainly goes outside to buy groceries or go to work. “I work as a call centre agent at H&M customer service.” Where many of his fellow students have seen their hours cut, Sokolli is busier than ever. “People are doing a lot of online shopping. I work five days a week.”
When he’s not at work, Sokolli has to study, but he’s having a hard time concentrating on his studies at home. He was one of those students who would spend hours in the University Library. “I studied at the faculty and the library and relaxed at home. Now, I spend a maximum of 10 hours a week studying. I don’t study after work on the weekends.”
Sokolli isn’t very pleased with his online classes. “I understand why it’s necessary, but I feel like I learn more in face-to-face tutorial sessions. I also miss reading physical books in the library.” He is doing well on his online exams, though: last period, he got a 9/10 and even a 10/10. “I have no idea why I did so well. Maybe it’s because I didn’t feel the pressure of being in the MECC building.”
To relax, he likes to ride his bicycle and – quite literally – go where the wind blows. “I cycled 125 kilometres last week. I visited Roermond and the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten. My goal is to cycle to my housemate in Dordrecht, but it might be too great a distance to cover in one day.”
What are these corona-days like for tutors and students? How does it affect their studies and other parts of their life? Observant speaks to one of them every day to give an idea about the virus' impact.