Not a day seems to pass by anymore without at least three new e-mails updating me about how Corona is affecting my life. By the time I'm writing this, Maastricht University has sent out its 15th Corona update. My current University in Freiburg comes very close to this number too.
In Freiburg (as in Maastricht), the Corona outbreak is met with the highest rate of compassion I could have ever imagined. And while Maastricht's updates are like the granola-bars of e-mails - packed with good and important information - Freiburg's e-mails come closer to chocolate-coated digestive cookies: 50% important information, 50% motherly advice. Take one of the first e-mails I've received: starting with paragraphs filled with sympathy for our confusion and worries, it finally ended with the advice to start "looking at the flowers in the gardens around you" to stay healthy and happy.
Sadly, the flowers in the gardens seem to be the last thing that isn't affected by the Coronavirus. While the university is doing everything it can to alleviate this tense hide-and-seek-like hide-out, like being more flexible about deadlines and attendance, I watch as my carefully calculated plans crumble under Corona's weight. If everything would go according to plan, I would have approximately one and a half weeks to move from Freiburg to Ecuador. If the University in Freiburg decides to move the summer semester, this already tight plan might get so tight that it suffocates me. That is if the virus allows me to do my semester abroad in Ecuador in the first place. Also, I planned to get my driver's licence while I'm in Germany. Yet, now that drivers' schools aren't allowed to teach for an undefined time anymore, this plan, too, is threatened.
But, like always, one thing is important to remember: some things are unfortunate, and some are serious. Luckily, all of the above still falls in the former category.
Additionally, as we Dutchies say in Cruijffiaans "Elk nadeel hep zijn voordeel" - every disadvantage has its advantage. And thus, I am suddenly catching up online with friends I haven't been able to catch up with before when deadlines, exams and readings seemed like they belong on the top of my to-do list. Corona is a deadly reminder for all of us to focus on what is important again. A reminder, to start looking at the flowers in the gardens.
Jesler van Houdt