First-years during corona #6

‘In the summer, we can catch up on all the parties’

In spite of the difficult circumstances, first-year students Lotte, Machteld, and Kara expect to pass all their courses. And now that they’ve – almost – been vaccinated, their social lives are slowly returning to normal.
Text by Fay van Odijk / Photos by Anouk Brekhof
26 May om 11:33 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 9 July 2021
om 14:33 uur.
May 26 at 11:33 AM.
Last modified on July 9, 2021
at 14:33 PM.

Lotte Benedictus (20)Arts, culture and media

Lotte will get her vaccine shot in a little over a week. Her GP put her on the list of people with a medical indication. She doesn’t know why, but she’s decided not to ask any questions. ‘It’s a good thing for my family. My mum is ill, so covid would be disastrous for her. We’ll have peace of mind once we’re both vaccinated. I’m looking forward to hugging her.’

The rest of her social life is slowly getting back to normal as well. ‘I’m having dinner with my year club again, and sometimes we invite another year club over. We all get together at the Noorderplantsoen. It’s really nice.’ 

She hasn’t visited the association itself lately. ‘This is normally the time when the clubs start inviting us, but they’re going to wait a while in order to do it safely.’ 

Outdoor cafés in the rain, that’s how we do it in the Netherlands

In spite of the bad weather, Lotte has been grateful to be able to go to outdoor cafés again. ‘In the rain, that’s how we do it in the Netherlands. I went for lunch the other day. It was so nice to have someone else cook for me.’  

She hasn’t spent a lot of time studying lately, in part because her three roommates moved out and she needed to find new ones. Two of the three vacant rooms have since been filled. ‘One of my new roommates was my group leader during the KEI week and I know the other one from class.’ Four prospective candidates will be coming by to view the last room.  

All that is keeping her busy. Fortunately, she still has a few weeks before her exams start. ‘But I’m running behind quite a bit, so I should get started.’ 

She’s passed every course so far, and she’s expecting to pass her first year. ‘If I keep this up, I should be all right. But now that I’ve decided to stick with this programme, it’s also okay if I don’t. If I’d decided to switch, I should have at least passed my first year. Otherwise, it would have just been a waste of time.’

Machteld Stegenga (19)Biology

The meetings for Bernlef’s activity committee are back to being ‘in person and fun’, says Machteld happily. They can come up with new events and they might even organise a few. It’s amped her up so much that she’s decided to help out her association during the KEI week. ‘Now that the restrictions are being relaxed more, the future is bright.’ 

She’s only been to Bernlef’s roof terrace once since the relaxations. ‘I spent a whole afternoon there with my boyfriend. I also have plans to get drinks with my friends from Friesland, the same girls with whom I originally joined Bernlef.’

She’s not as happy with the way the restrictions have been relaxed for education, even though she’ll be able to go back to the lab soon. ‘It’s nice that I can go back to campus, but other than that, nothing much is changing for me. It’s too bad the UG isn’t doing more.’ 

Nevertheless, Machteld is going for the full 60 ECTS this year. ‘The pressure is on, because I already switched programmes once. It’s costing a lot of money and my debt is increasing.’ 

It’s too bad the UG isn’t relaxing the rules more

She’s got her work cut out for her; she doesn’t have any exams for this block, but she’ll probably have to do three resits from the previous one. ‘I’m going to go for it, but those resits are going to be hard.’ 

Fortunately, she’s able to focus again in her room; the neighbours’ peacock that was bothering her so much when UKrant talked to her in April has stopped making so much noise. ‘It turned out he was yelling because another peacock had died. I felt really sorry for him.’

Just like Lotte, Machteld also ended up on a list of people with a medical indication for vaccination. She got her shot last week. ‘It was a mistake, but I went anyway.’

It hasn’t changed her behaviour much, she says, although she now no longer disinfects her shopping trolley. ‘No one around me has been vaccinated yet. Even if I want to hang out with a lot of people, they have to want to, too.’

Kara Schotanus (18)Religious sciences

Kara has passed all her exams so far. ‘I’m at 75 percent. I just have to work hard for the last couple of courses and with a little luck I’ll pass them all’, she says. She’s decided to study archaeology in addition to religious sciences next year. ‘If I pass all my courses, I can combine the two. I’m really looking forward to it.’ 

She’s less certain about her earlier plans to become a teacher. ‘I’m going to leave that open for a while. I’ve got plenty of time.’ Because so many restrictions in education have been relaxed, Kara hasn’t been working at her old high school much, but she’ll be monitoring a final exam soon.

Things have also relaxed at Unitas. They’re finally allowed to all sit on the roof terrace again, she says. In order to keep members engaged, Unitas has also been organising corona-proof events. ‘We could all vote during the Eurovision Song Contest, so there was an Unitas result.’ 

I was in line with all these old people

Her new roommates have been providing the necessary social contacts. She lives in three connected houses which have a total of twenty-four rooms. ‘It’s nice to be able to see more people. I can just send out a message in the group chat to see if anyone wants to take a walk or have a cup of tea, and I’ll always get a response.’  

Kara has also had her first shot, but in her case, it wasn’t because her GP made a mistake: she has asthma. ‘I was in line with all these old people, and the person who vaccinated was surprised by how young I was.’

She makes sure to still observe the restrictions though; her aunt got covid after her first vaccination. ‘You’re not fully immune until a few weeks after your second shot. I’ll probably relax a bit more after that second one, but I’ll still take other people into account.’ 

She’s happy that it’s almost over. ‘It’ll take a while before everyone’s vaccinated, but I’m confident that we’ll be able to do more things in the summer. We’ll be able to make up for the parties we missed out on.’