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"I do things now that I usually do on holidays"

"I do things now that I usually do on holidays"


Archive Femke de Haan

It has been a strange academic year for Femke de Haan, a third-year student at University College Maastricht. Last September, she went on exchange to Canada. Soon after her return to the Netherlands in January, Maastricht University closed its doors due to the coronavirus outbreak. “I went from experiencing one new thing after another in Canada to staying at home in the Netherlands. I’ve spent very little time at UCM this year.”

When the virus began to spread through the Netherlands and the situation became more and more tense, De Haan all but fled to her parents’ house in Hoorn (North Holland). “There was a lot of uncertainty, so I preferred to be home with my parents.”

She came back to Maastricht a few weeks ago. “I live in a student house with three other girls. It’s a lot of fun.” She and her housemates spend a lot of time together. “We eat together every day and go for walks or watch films together.” They’re also tidying up the house and making some home improvements. “We bought new chairs and a table for the living room. We’ve sanded them to prepare them for painting. We also got rid of a broken fridge, put up some lights and I repotted my plants.”

Her social life has been put on hold since her return from Canada. “I’m a member of Circumflex. I usually have student association activities at least two evenings a week. Now, we only have a few online activities.” She misses it, but it’s not all bad. “I sleep more, go for walks, read books – the kinds of things you’d do on holidays”, she laughs. She also devotes more time to calling her friends and family. “My parents, my two sisters and my brother all live in different cities. We call each other more often than we used to. We don’t really talk about anything in particular, but I like talking to them, even if buying groceries was the highlight of our day.”

She is disappointed that she might not see her fellow students again. “UCM is very international. Many of my friends have already gone back home. They’ll complete their studies from there. Our graduation ceremony has been cancelled, although we may organise some kind of online event. It’s all quite sad, but I’m glad it’s just my bachelor’s degree. I hope graduating with my master’s degree will be different.”

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.


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