During the global coronavirus pandemic take a moment to read about the experience of a first-year student who has been studying online for the past couple of months. In this interview we discuss the challenges he and all his classmates are facing due to social distancing and other lockdown measures. Meet Plamen.
Interviewer: So, Plamen, tell me about yourself.
Plamen: I am from Bulgaria, I am 20 years old, and I have been living in Breda since last August.
Interviewer: How are you liking Breda so far?
Plamen: I have been loving it, up until the social distancing, of course. We were going out, having fun, meeting new people… I really hope we can start doing that again.
Interviewer: What would you say is the biggest issue you have with not being able to go out?
Plamen: I really miss meeting up with my friends. Since I am a 1st-year student, I was also really looking forward to meeting more new people but this is pretty difficult as you can imagine. We even had plans for the summer and we don’t have any idea if those would ever come to life now.
Interviewer: And what would you say is the best thing about the whole staying-at-home situation?
Plamen: I mean, it is pretty cool to be able to wake up shortly before the beginning of your morning lecture. My schedule now is super flexible so that’s pretty cool, I don’t waste time cycling between uni and home, so I do feel like I have so much more time now.
Interviewer: So you are enjoying the online studying situation?
Plamen: Well, it has its ups and downs. For example, we are constantly having so many questions for the teachers. A couple of weeks ago there was some miscommunication about a deadline so it was difficult for some to submit on time. Since everyone is staying home the internet connection is not super good so our online lectures and meetings can be complete disasters. But it is nice that we can avoid a study delay! Still, though, I feel the education quality is lacking because everything is done online rather than in class, despite the efforts our teachers put in.
Interviewer: Do you feel a bit more at ease now that you know the pressure of getting your 60 credits is not there since you have more time to acquire those credits?
Plamen: Yes. This does help.
Interviewer: And about your friends. Can you maybe still see one or two of them from time to time as it is allowed to have one or two friends as long as you keep a safe distance?
Plamen: No, not really. Most of them are Dutch so now they are all back at their home places.
Interviewer: Do you miss home, knowing that most of your friends have gone home? Are you even able to go home?
Plamen: I am able to go home but since I am working I need to stay a bit longer and it would be good to save up some money. But I do want to go home, especially knowing that all of my friends from back home who study in different countries have been back for some time now.
Interviewer: Oh, so you are working here? Is your job being affected by social distancing?
Plamen: Yes, I am delivering food. The only change that pretty much happened was the no contact delivery. This way of delivering allows us [delivery guys] to leave the bag with food in front of the door and after we leave, the people take their food. Overall, the work is actually more since more people order food online now.
Interviewer: Plamen, thank you for sharing your experience with social distancing! I hope you will be able to go home soon!