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Self-isolating in Huize Bommel: ‘We talk to each other from the doorway’

Four students (Robert, Jorim, Martijn and Jarné) are self-isolating together after…

Last week the four residents of Huize Bommel  a student house at Eendrachtsplein which belongs to NSR, entered quarantine. “At first we had to get used to the situation,” says Martijn, 21, a third-year IBCOM student. “You have to be mindful of a lot of things and you’re constantly focusing on keeping your distance and disinfecting your hands. But once we had gotten used to that, the week was over before we knew it.”

“I struggled a bit on the weekend,” admits 21-year-old Econometrics student Robert. “On the weekdays I was generally quite busy, but on the weekend, some of my friends got together and it was a pity I had to miss out on that. Thankfully, I have plenty of hobbies. I read a lot, watched some Netflix and did some programming.”

Things were a little harder for 24-year-old Jorim, who is training to become an economics teacher and was supposed to have this week off. “I’d scheduled a lot of meetings with friends that I didn’t have time for while working. So I felt the same way on the weekdays that Robert did on the weekend. But in hindsight I’m glad I got tested before catching up with all those people, because if I hadn’t, they might all have had to self-isolate.”

A quick stroll on the rooftop terrace

Jorim and Robert had both tested positive the week before, and by now Martijn had been told he had not been infected with the coronavirus. “Fortunately, Jarné and I could keep hanging out, since neither of us had any symptoms,” says Martijn. “But it wasn’t as if we never saw the other two. Of course we asked each other how we were doing whenever we met in the kitchen. In addition, we sometimes spent some time together on the roof, and once we had a silent disco, with in-ear headphones and a playlist.”

The rooftop terrace was the only place where the students got some fresh air last week, because apart from that, they did not venture outside. Not even to take a quick stroll. “We are lucky in that our rooftop terrace is fairly large,” says Jarné, 23, who studies advertising at the Willem de Kooning Academy. “It’s easy to keep your distance there, and yes, you can do some walking too.”

huize bommel quarantaine studentenhuis NSR foto Milena Chopova (1) (EM)
From left to right: Martijn, Jorim, Robert en Jarné. Image credit: Milena Chopova

“I really enjoyed cycling to the coronavirus testing station,” Martijn adds. “I definitely took my time getting there.” Once he got back from the station, his flatmates came running to hear his news, because obviously, that was the ‘most sensational moment of the week’.

Dinner served every night

Since Jarné had bought ten days’ worth of groceries the week before, they didn’t have to worry about buying groceries. Jarné cooked for his flatmates every day. “I don’t really mind cooking, but when I had to do it every day, I did feel a bit like a housewife,” he says with a laugh. “Thankfully, Martijn gave me a hand. And in a way, it was nice to be able to do something other than watch Netflix or work on my minor.”

“That was one of the nice things about this week,” Robert adds. “The fact that we were served a plate full of food every night. But even that required some thinking, because is it OK for infected people to do the dishes or take clean dishes from the dishwasher?”

Fortunately, the meals prepared by Jarné weren’t the only silver lining. “Many people did nice things for us,” Martijn tells us. “Robert’s parents brought us some soup, and Jarné’s girlfriend showed up with stroopwafel cake. They left the things in the doorway, where we would then pick them up. Oh, and Jarné and Jorim’s sub-society also paid us a quick visit. They called us and said we had to go to our rooftop terrace, and when we got there, they were all out on the square below, standing in a heart shape.”


Originally, the young men were supposed to keep self-isolating until Thursday, but the GGD (Regional Public Health Service) told them on Wednesday morning that they were free to go outside again, since they did not have any symptoms. “I stayed at home because I had this small, niggling cough, but apparently, there’s no need for that anymore,” says Robert. “We called the GGD, and they told us that we could go outside again if our symptoms were mild, such as the odd small cough every once in a while.”

“That kind of information is impossible to find online,” says Jorim. “I’d like a little more clarity on that. And it makes things a bit tricky, because obviously, you want to be sure you’re not infecting anyone.”

huize bommel quarantaine studentenhuis NSR foto Milena Chopova (14) (EM)
Image credit: Milena Chopova

Even so, the young men have not yet made any wild plans to mark the end of quarantine. “Even though we’re allowed to leave the house again, it feels really weird to be doing things and seeing people again,” says Martijn. “We’re still mentally focused on the idea of disinfecting hands and keeping our distance. We originally intended to have a good night in with all four of us, but Jarné and Robert are spending some time with their girlfriends first, because they haven’t seen them for two weeks.”

Make the most of quarantine

So, do the students have any tips for other students who have been told to self-isolate along with their flatmates? “Even though it’s no fun, I’d advise people to keep organising fun things with each other, while keeping their distance from each other, and to make the most of quarantine,” says Jarné. “And make sure you don’t infect each other by regularly disinfecting your hands. That’s the quickest way to get quarantine over and done with.”

Robert adds: “If you’re not all infected at once, make sure that those who have not yet come down with the virus don’t get infected. And if you’re lucky, they will be people who are decent cooks.”