“The best social distancing sport you can do right now!” Nicolas from Belgium laughs. The rest of the sports centre is closed, as are most of the other amenities on campus. But the tennis courts are one of the few sports facilities that are still open. “After the first announcement on Friday, we checked whether we could use them and chanced coming back now,” says Habets, who lives nearby in Kralingen.

They’ve brought tennis rackets and balls from home. “There’s not much else we can do at the moment,” Nolte from Germany explains. “One course is about to start, but we can’t do much preparation for it yet. We’ll just have to wait and see what the programme can do for us.” The three students know each other from International Management/CEMS, a two-year international master programme which involves a year abroad.

‘We’ll definitely be coming back’

Tennis op de campus corona 2
Image credit: Marko de Haan

Along with many fellow international students, like Nolte from Germany and Daijdi from Belgium. “Many of our fellow students from abroad have rushed home. I guess it’s quite a risk for people from more distant countries like Canada to stay, so I understand that.” Today’s game of tennis may be their farewell as well. “We’re going home this week too. You want to be in your home country at times like these.”

“It feels surreal,” says Habets. Nolte: “But it’s good that countries are learning how to deal with such a pandemic. Because I’m afraid this won’t be the last global virus to affect us. Nor the deadliest.” What does the future look like? “Like so many other things, it’s not clear what the next semester will be like. We’ll just wait and see, but we’ll definitely be coming back to the Netherlands, that’s for sure.”