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The only one present

The only one present

"I hope I'm not the only one here today." I said it with a grin. Sometimes you only realize the irony of a situation in retrospect. This is one of those times.

Last Wednesday morning, I immediately knew how I had to follow the designated route to get to my tutorial room. Though this was not, as one might assume, because I was so excited about the new course that I learned the tutorial room number by heart (which, I guess, I also did do), but rather because the day before I had already made myself comfortable in the same room as I infiltrated the wrong class. Walking into the wrong classroom during Corona is a whole new experience by the way. Not only do you feel incredibly guilty and would just like to spray disinfectant on every inch of the floor your shoes might have touched, but you also have to walk a big circle within UCM to get to your actual tutorial room 3 doors back, following arrows and walking through dark corridors, almost like a treasure hunt (after all, you can’t go against the stream).

"I think a few more students will join us.", my tutor replied. I had entered the tutorial room only two or three minutes before class started, so needless to say I was quite surprised to find no one but my tutor there. But my tutor was right in that more students joined the tutorial meeting. One by one they logged into zoom and waved into the camera. Some of them at home because they couldn't come to Maastricht, others quarantined because they were in contact with someone who was in contact with someone who got tested positive for Corona.

Everyone but one attended the tutorial meeting. I was the only one who attended onsite. And who wore a mask.

While you would think that being the only one (next to the tutor) in the tutorial room would make you feel big and important – getting up and walking around the whole room, articulating widely – it actually has the opposite effect. You're half glued to the screen to debate with your fellow course mates, waiting for the internet to catch up with what you've said, half looking the tutor in the eye – the only one actually capable of doing it. You're both put on the spot and forgotten. Feelings of extra responsibility – after all, you're onsite and have all the luxuries this entails – and less responsibility - after all, you're onsite and have all the pitfalls this entails – sweep over you.

It is a truly unique experience. At least that's what I hope.

Jesler van Houdt

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