Amit Ben Ari (19) has just completed the first year of her International Bachelor of Arts & Culture Studies (IBACS). She is currently staying with her parents in Singapore.

Why did you leave Rotterdam?

“I returned to Singapore very soon after the first cases of Covid-19 were discovered. I felt more comfortable there. I was concerned about what could happen in the Netherlands during a lockdown, and it is easier for me to get medical care in Singapore if necessary. Also my mother was very worried!”

How is the situation in Singapore?

“Everything is under control here. Everyone wears a mask outdoors, and you need to scan a QR code with your phone when you visit any public place. The lockdown has been phased. First there was the ‘circuit breaker’, when everything shut down. Then there was phase one, when we were only allowed outside for emergencies. We are now in phase two, which means that we can meet up in groups of five and certain shops are open again. Phase three will be the final phase, when cultural institutions and companies can reopen. The government has drawn up a clear plan, so we know where we are.”

How did you experience online education?

“I actually found the online lectures quite nice. I could fast-forward them, make notes in my own time and review them for the examination. However, I didn’t enjoy online tutorials at all. I really missed the social interaction. Discussing the material or just chatting to classmates is not so easy in a video call.”

Do you plan to return to the Netherlands?

“Definitely! I’m coming back to Rotterdam in a few days’ time. My room contract ends, so I need to move my furniture. I considered sending my things back to Singapore, but that would have been expensive. However, I am a bit nervous about being on a plane. The flight takes thirteen hours, and if anyone in the plane has coronavirus, I’ll get it too.”

How will you feel about being back in Rotterdam? What have you missed?

“I plan to stay in Rotterdam for a while, because I hope that we’ll be able to return to campus for some classes at least. Hopefully, I won’t get too many strange looks from people in Rotterdam when I wear a mask outside. What I’m really looking forward to is meeting up with my friends. And I missed the weather in Rotterdam: it will be nice to get away from the heat of Singapore!”