What happens when a German, a Swiss person and a bunch of Bulgarians walk into a Bar? Currently, nothing as Corona has forced all of them to close. And as we all know this does not only go for bars or other establishments of the alcoholic kind. The choice of things to do has shrunken down significantly since that fatal day off the 13th of March 2020. Most activities nowadays are either strictly online or only in very small groups possible. We are all affected somehow. And one group of students is probably even more affected by this than the other. I am talking about the international student community in Enschede.
The international student community itself is relatively small in comparison to the amount of Dutch students at Saxion. Which… makes sense. We are in the Netherlands after all. They are also often overlooked as most international students are only centered around the courses which are held in English and therefore stick to themselves when it comes to after school activities. Or at least while after school activities were still allowed. Nowadays the situation looks a lot grimmer for them as there are some issues that affect international students more than students from the Netherlands.
Most students who come from abroad to Saxon to study here are from the countries surrounding the Netherlands. But there is also a big part of the students that come from further away. There are students here that come from countries all around the globe. And most of them are affected by the different travel restrictions imposed on them by their countries. This makes it incredibly hard or even impossible for them to travel home during the quarantine. Just like many of us they did not expect the lockdown to last as long as it did and thought to themselves that everything will go back to normal soon enough. This of course did not happen and by staying their last chance to go home went away for a while.
The students that moved here before corona have built up their new circle of friends here which often also consist of fellow internationals. Meetups and Nights filled with copious amounts of alcohol have happened which created great friendships. During the lockdown all of these friendships have now been moved to digital hangouts or stopped completely as people have turned away from their studies once they moved back to their home countries. This affects most Dutch students as well-off course but at least we have these friendships which we created pre-corona. One group of students does not have this privilege. Students who are currently still in their first year of studying never had the chance to create friendships in their place of study like that as easily. They are now here in a foreign place to them, not knowing anybody, having to do their studies in a weird and unfamiliar way with no way to get to know more people. This cannot be healthy for anyone.
And that is not even it. There are students here who have not seen their families since last March and with the worsening of the general situation these students will, in all likelihood, spend their first Christmas alone. But not with friends or other people they care about but just sitting in an empty student accommodation as the rest of their roommates were able to travel home.
I don’t have any suggestions on how to improve the situation since we are bound by the Corona restrictions. I just hope that if you are reading this article that you make sure that you take care of the people around you in these hard times.