“Nobody studies Psychology for the statistics course”, Alexandra says as she shrugs her shoulders when I ask how her exam went. Does she think she passed? “Oh no, absolutely not. The statistics programme got stuck four times. My MacBook overheated. Maybe I was able to fill in half the questions. You can see me crying on the proctored screenshots.” But statistics is over and done with and the next block will centre on the body and human biology. She’s looking forward to that.
It soon becomes clear during the virtual interview that Alexandra is not alone. “We’re sitting in my room”, Anisia states, a communication and media (IBCoM) first-year student and also from Romania.
The two of them are incredibly close, they tell me. “When I wake up in the morning, I first walk downstairs to see if Anisia is awake,” says Alexandra. They both live in the Xior building on campus. “We met in the lift,” Alexandra adds. “At 3 o’clock in the morning. We both couldn’t sleep and went outside for a cigarette.” Anisia goes on: “The very next afternoon, we got matching tattoos. A mountain landscape with a sun behind it, both on our arms.” Since then, the two have been inseparable. “Friends say that we can no longer be seen as two separate people. We are one.”
When we talk about Christmas, the two exchange meaningful glances. Both of them have divorced parents, so Christmas is always a bit of a puzzle. Naturally, they are travelling back and forth together. Alexandra lives in Bucharest, and Anisia in a small town just outside the capital. Alexandra: “When I left home, my mother was six months pregnant and now all of a sudden there is a baby. His name is Noah. I am really looking forward to seeing my baby brother. But I am looking forward to going back to Rotterdam too.” Anisia seems almost freaked out by the idea of having to stay in Romania. “Rotterdam is fantastic, I can be myself much more here.”
A lot of meat
Because of the pandemic, the two students are unable to make very many trips to Romania. Still, they both have quite a full Christmas programme. “Presents in the morning, lunch with my half-brother and his mother in the afternoon, dinner with my own mother in the evening”,Anisia lists it all. What’s on the menu? “Meat,” they both say straightaway. “Steaks, sausages, you name it. A lot of meat is eaten”, says Alexandra, who is not very fond of it herself
“My mother makes a traditional dish for me which is lettuce rolls stuffed with rice without any meat,” says vegetarian Anisia. The two students plan to come back to Rotterdam on 27 December.
‘Things will only get better’
The two of them expect that it will cost some effort to get used to the stricter corona measures in Romania. “During summer, I found it so weird that I didn’t need to wear a face mask and that there was no curfew,” says Anisia. Alexandra had the same experience. “And now we’ll have to get used to the stricter rules there all over again.”
Nowadays they are trying to be more careful, even in Rotterdam. Don’t be around too many people, don’t just press the buttons in the lift (‘because who knows who’s already touched them’) and regularly take a break in between stuff and go for a walk outside to get some fresh air. “I am getting used to it,” says Alexandra. “It’s already great to live here, so as soon as the pandemic is over, things will only get better.”
And what about New Year’s Eve? Do they regret not being able to party? Not really, says Alexandra, who quit drinking a few months ago. Anisia nods, she followed her friend’s example and has also quit. They are spending New Year’s Eve together, of course. Are there any parties planned in Xior? … Not that they know of.
Both of them have been to the by now infamous Xior parties, but the fun fizzled out very quickly. “Why is it so much fun to party until the police show up? Because they will come!” says Anisia. “People are thinking about how they can make a fast getaway. Via the lift, the stairs or whose room they can hide in. I don’t see the fun in that.” Luckily, they have each other, they both agree. Because being together, well, that’s the best thing there is.