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In two minds: stay or go back to Moldova?

In two minds: stay or go back to Moldova?

Photographer:Fotograaf:

Joey Roberts

The UM first years of 2020/2021, part 2: first-year student Alina Timosenco

She does the same things every morning: she has a cup of coffee, does her skincare routine, and meditates. This positive way to start the day is helping first-year student of Global Studies Alina Timosenco through the lockdown. Timosenco, who is from Moldova, is facing a dilemma. Will she stay in Maastricht or return to her native country? “Sure, I could stay here, but what’s in it for me right now?”

The only place where she can study is her room. She rarely sees any of her friends, and the evening curfew is limiting her social contact even more. “I’d hoped that the number of COVID-19 cases in the Netherlands would decrease. That we would be able to see each other again. It hurts deep down inside.” The restrictions don’t just impact her social life, but also her studies. “I study best with people around me. I used to go to Bandito at FASoS, for example, or the library. But I’ve only managed to book a study space there once.” Timosenco is worried that she won’t have any classes on campus for the rest of the academic year. “Hybrid teaching was great, but I think everything will be online-only now. I’m quite sad about it. Discussions were fun and you get to see people again during physical tutorials.”

Moving

She’s also looking for new accommodation in the city centre, as her sublease agreement is about to end. It’s not easy. She has already viewed a lot of rooms, but she hasn’t found what she is looking for. “The only way I can meet new people is by moving to a nice student house, so a studio flat or semi studio is not an option. The room will also have to be furnished, as I can’t take anything with me from my current place. And of course it has to feel right for me.”

And so Timosenco is faced with a difficult choice. If she can’t find a place to live, there’s a good chance she will go back to Moldova. “It’s hard. I don’t want to keep switching between my life in Maastricht and my life in Moldova. I’ve settled in Maastricht, but if all teaching will be online from now on and I won’t be able to see anyone, I don’t want to stay here.”

Home

In other words: if she has no other option, she will return to Moldova. It was difficult for her to be back there in December, when she still had to complete her period 2 courses. “I had to get used to life at home again, living with my family and following their daily rhythm. I was also very stressed about my exams. I wouldn’t do it again, going home during an exam period.” But her hard work paid off: she passed all her exams. After her arrival, she self-quarantined for two weeks before visiting her family and friends. Seeing her grandmother again in particular made a deep impression on her. “I stayed with her for a few days. When I left, I was very emotional. I don’t usually cry when I say goodbye to someone, but COVID has changed everything. It was my most emotional goodbye ever. You don’t know when you will be able to see each other again.”

She could always move back in with her mother or father. “I talk to my mum the most. We talk about the rooms I’ve found in Maastricht. And when I’m at her place, I get to spend more time with my little sister. But I also like the idea of living with my grandma. Her internet connection is better.” Wait, what? “Yes, I’m serious,” laughs Timosenco. “In December, I attended my classes from my mum’s house. It didn’t go smoothly at all. There were too many of us using the Wi-Fi.”

Maastricht
In any case, she hopes to be able to stay in Maastricht. She really likes it here. “My study programme is a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to the rest of my courses this year, especially Environment & Economy. That course is the reason why I enrolled in this bachelor’s degree in the first place.” And she doesn’t just spend all her time studying, either. “I now work at Student Radio Maastricht. We create items and think about topics we would like to discuss, like sustainability [one of Timosenco’s interests].” To relax, she takes online yoga classes or goes running. “I’ve noticed that everyone smiles at me or says hello to me when I’m on a run. I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to that at first. It’s not a thing in Moldova.” 

Future

What else is she looking forward to in the coming months? “Well, maybe moving, getting to know new people.” The pandemic is preventing her from making any big plans. “I’d just like to see lots of people in the streets of Maastricht. What’s it like when everything is back to normal? I want to experience that.” She has a whole list of other things she would like to do again once the pandemic is over: “Go to parties, museums, protests… meet people…” She pauses. “Oh, and go to the University Sports Centre again! I actually don’t like running at all. I much prefer strength training.”

 

 

 

 

The first years of 2020

Who are the new first-year students at Maastricht University? What are their dreams, their plans and their expectations? And how are they doing this year? Observant is following six new students this academic year. We spoke to them for the first time in autumn, are checking in with them now and will interview them one last time in May/June.

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