Ana Paula 1 (EM)

For Mexican student Ana Paula Villareal (22) (Communications & Media), the pandemic was ‘a roller coaster’ from the very start. “From one day to the next my international friends suddenly flew back to their families,” she explained. “As I work full-time in the Netherlands, I decided to stay here. Luckily, I still had my boyfriend; I don’t know what I’d have done without him. For six months he was the only person I saw. We lived together in a studio of 26 square metres, which wasn’t always easy.”

“I only really started to notice what a significant effect this was having on my mental health when lessons restarted in September. I was the only Mexican student in my minor and, in contrast to my Dutch co-students, I’d hardly seen anyone in months. When my co-students asked if everything was OK with me, I started to wonder that myself. At a certain point, my hair started to fall out because of the stress. Luckily, I still had several hobbies that helped me through, such as cooking, watching TV series such as Modern Family, and playing the Nintendo Switch I had bought.”

Shut off from the world

Hannah Mosmans (21) is doing her master degree (Law and Economics). “Things went well from March to August,” she said. “At that time I thought that I could just go back to uni in September. But when September came, it became much harder. You’re always careful in arranging to meet up with people, which makes you feel a bit closed off from the world. You do talk to everyone via Zoom and Teams but as soon as you close your laptop, you’re alone again. This loneliness makes you start dwelling on everything. I started thinking about how much better studying would’ve been without the coronavirus and whether I’d have had better job opportunities and would have met more companies. I’ve slept badly for months now because I keep mulling over everything at night too. In the morning I wake up tired, which is a bad start to the day. It’s a vicious cycle.”

“What helps me get through it is creating a routine. It’s the simple things: getting up at the same time every day, having a good breakfast and taking an hour’s walk in the afternoon. It’s also important that you watch out for yourself and talk about things if you’re not feeling great, but that’s something I find difficult to do. I’m considering talking to a psychologist about this as I’d find that easier than talking to people who are close to me.”

Foto Hannah


Tessa (22) is doing a double bachelor degree in History and Philosophy. She also finds the current lockdown harder than the one in March, because of the hopelessness. “For me, ‘lonely’ is the word that best describes the recent period. As I do all my studies from home now, I find it difficult to get motivated. I notice that I’m really easily distracted. At such times, I used to go to the library or sit in Starbucks, but that’s not possible anymore.”

“I find it hard to decide whether the measures are in proportion. The problem with these measures is that you’re actually offering up one person’s life in exchange for another’s, because the measures have also increased suicide thoughts amongst young people and urgent operations are being postponed. I also find it difficult that the policy is increasingly difficult to explain. Everyone can see that the coronavirus figures are falling but instead of easing the measures, they’re being tightened. I just feels like something’s not right. The same applies to the curfew. One day, experts like Gommers say that the curfew isn’t necessary and the next day it’s still introduced. I also see people around me looking for answers in alternative theories. I think it’s good if people don’t blindly follow what is said in the media, but for some people this seems to take up all their time.”

Tessa pasfoto (EM)
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