In late December, Alexandra downloaded the Bumble dating app. She soon matched with Matthijs who was new to the app, as well. “We had such a good conversation. We clicked at once. We never went on a real date, because there’s not much you can do during a pandemic. We went on a lot of walks and got a lot of take-away coffee. Soon we were together 24/7. And we’re still fine,” she says, laughing. “You wouldn’t expect that to be the case when you’re spending this much time together, but it’s true.”

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Originally, Alexandra and I were supposed to go for a walk in Rotterdam together, but she is still in Romania. She and her boyfriend are currently staying at her father’s place, after first spending weeks with her mother and sister. “I came to visit my family to attend my brother’s baptism. My grandmother didn’t attend the ceremony but did fall ill. She had the coronavirus. My mother turned out to have contracted it, as well, and my sister. My boyfriend and I fell ill, too. So we were all self-isolating together and were unable to go home.”

Initially, Alexandra hated being stuck in Bucharest. “Being cooped up in a house with your new boyfriend for weeks when you’re feeling sick and aren’t allowed to go anywhere isn’t great.” But they didn’t have any arguments. In fact, Alexandra began to enjoy the experience. “I absolutely love being able to spend so much time with my little brother. He really is the cutest baby. He hardly ever cries. He’s grown so much since December.”

Now that they are feeling better, Alexandra and her boyfriend regularly take the baby out for a walk in a stroller. “Yeah, we get some interesting reactions when we do that. Because even though I’m 19, I look like a 13-year-old when I’m not wearing any make-up. And here I am in the street, with a baby. People sometimes give me funny looks.”

Alexandra Pop
Image credit: Aysha Gasanova

Online lectures only

Spending so much time at home may have made her closer to her family, but it’s been less beneficial for her studies. “None of us were very sick when we got the virus, but I could tell my ability to focus was badly affected.” Alexandra has yet to attend a single lecture on campus in Rotterdam, so attending her lectures and seminars online from Romania wasn’t a big deal for her. However, she does not like the fact that she knows so few of her fellow students due to the lack of in-person classes. “Being a student can be hard, particularly during a pandemic, in a strange country, far away from home.”

Thankfully, Alexandra continues to find her degree programme very interesting, so she very much intends to stay in Rotterdam in the coming years. “We are currently completing the clinical psychology module. So interesting. This is why I read psychology books at age 14, to learn more about the human mind and psychological disorders.”

However, it remains to be seen whether she can actually stay in Rotterdam. The Xior student housing complex only allows students to stay for one year. She and her friend Anisia are looking hard for a new place to live, but they are having a very hard time finding anything affordable. If anyone has any tips, she will be very happy to hear them.

Schermafbeelding 2021-04-22 om 11.43.33

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