Eighteen months ago, he and a friend visited Rotterdam and immediately loved it. “From that moment I knew that I wanted to study in the Netherlands.” Now Paul is in his first year of the International Bachelor Communication and Media (IBCoM), and online education has become the norm. He had imagined his first year rather differently. “I’d heard stories from older students about Eurekaweek, for exampoe, which was obviously completely different for us.”

Nevertheless, he has enjoyed student life so far. The fact that IBCoM has organised several offline activities in recent months has helped. “I can imagine that other students are finding it harder.”

The international does not regret coming to the Netherlands. That is partly due to where he lives. “I live on campus in the Hatta building, which means that I still see a lot of people. We visit each other quite often, but in small groups at a time.”

EM – Nur _DEF

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International Nur stays in Rotterdam during Christmas: ‘Afraid I can’t go back otherwise’

They dreamt of studying abroad – preferably in Rotterdam. And then the pandemic hit.…

Different times

EM – Paul_03
Paul in his almost empty room, everything is already packed so he can spend Christmas with his family in Germany. Image credit: Amber Leijen

Paul plans to visit family in Germany at Christmas and is willing to do what it takes. “First, I have a four-hour train journey.” And that’s not all. “Rotterdam is in the danger zone when it comes to coronavirus, so I also need to get a test and spend five days in quarantine.”

Christmas will also be different for Paul and his family. “My grandparents live on Nordeney, a small island in Germany. We usually visit them too.” However, due to the risk of infection, that won’t be possible. “They aren’t young anymore. I don’t want to take the risk.”

But he’s still looking forward to Christmas, despite the restrictions. “It’s going to be nice to see my mother and older brother and sister. The last time I saw them was in August. Although bigger plans have been abandoned, there are some nice alternatives. “We have a leisurely Christmas dinner and listen to music. I’ll also visit my father and German friends. We always celebrate Christmas well in Germany.”

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Back to Rotterdam for New Year’s Eve

For New Year’s Eve, Paul hopes to be back in Rotterdam. “I think it’s important to visit my family at Christmas, but I also have my own life in Rotterdam.” Despite the new lockdown in the Netherlands, the German is not concerned about travelling there and back. “I’m lucky that Germany is next door to the Netherlands. That’s not the case for many other internationals.”

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