Tommaso Fanin was about to finish his thesis for the master in Cultural Economics and Entrepreneurship when the coronavirus took hold of the Netherlands and his student life. He decided to return to his parent’s house in Bologna, Italy in May.
Why did you leave Rotterdam?
“Around this time, most of my friends were leaving the city, and I didn’t feel like passing my quarantine days all alone. I decided to join my parents in their quarantine and finish my thesis there. And also celebrate my holiday in Italy afterwards.”
“The journey was actually quite fine, I wasn’t scared. I had to wear a mask and got registered on arrival, but the hardest part by far was finding a flight to take me home. And perhaps the Italians are a bit worse at queuing at a 1.5 metres distance than the Dutch. But I think that was also the case before corona!”
How is the situation in Italy right now?
“Actually, these past few days it’s been looking like it is getting a bit worse again. But I do feel that the people are less worried. Everything is open, and you only have to wear a mask if social distancing is not possible. We thought cases would go up from June onwards, right after the restrictions were lifted. But they only seem to be increasing now. So people are mostly confused.”
“When I just arrived here, people were much more scared of the virus than in Rotterdam. You had to be registered if you had to stay in quarantine, and police would stop to ask for your papers if you were out on the streets. But the atmosphere also depended on the region, as my hometown had relatively few cases compared to Lombardy, for example.”
How do you feel about having to finish your degree from abroad?
“Thankfully I didn’t have any more courses, and finishing my thesis was doable from Italy. However, my original research plan was to collect surveys and visit heritage sites in real life. In the end I had to collect my data online. Everyone, including my supervisor, agreed that it was a shame that I wasn’t able to do the research on site. But I still managed to pass with a good grade. That is what is most important.”
Do you plan to come back to the Netherlands?
“For sure! I’ve decided to do a second master at the EUR. And I want to take every opportunity I have to spend time with my professors and friends in person. I am a marketing and communication assistant for the International Office, and I miss the vibe of the office. I also teach Italian, which is almost impossible to do from abroad.”
Is there anything else that you miss about Rotterdam?
“My routine, mostly. Being in Italy is great, good food and everything. But moving back to my parents was very difficult after living by myself for so long. We were quarantined with the entire family for thirteen days. I miss doing my own thing, and biking around! But I have mixed feelings about returning to the Netherlands. I always feel a bit nostalgic when leaving Bologna, even if it is what I want to do.”