by Timas Ignatjevas

The eighth student to share his story is an ICM student from Lithuania who decided to stay in the Netherlands.

The Hague. Source: Dreamstime stock photo.

What’s your personal situation like during this pandemic, and why did you decide to stay in the Netherlands?

My decision to stay in this country depended largely on the risk that airports and public spaces bring to my health. The risk of being infected with coronavirus outweighed the wish to go back to Lithuania. Moreover, the airplane tickets were twice as expensive as usual. As I am a student, my financial situation could not support that decision. Thirdly, my partner, who is from Hong Kong, would not be allowed in Lithuania, as measures set by the government had stated. Lithuanians could come back to the country without complications, but foreigners were prohibited from doing so. And lastly, I would lose my accommodation if I went back home until September. I experienced last year how hard it is to find accommodations in The Hague, so that was one more reason not to return to Lithuania.

Since my university decided to cancel all physical classes on the campus and shift to online learning, I have been staying home every day. Each day for me starts with a cup of tea or coffee. Usually a few hours of studying follow, especially when the exam period is approaching. Besides that, my time is spent watching different kinds of movies, or just scrolling social media.

As social distancing has now been implemented, my main social activity at home is playing video games with friends. It allows us to have fun, and at the same time to catch up on what is going on in our lives. As far as going out, once every week or two I try to stock up on groceries, but besides that, I have not left home for the last three weeks.

What has your experience with the university been like so far?

Although the COVID-19 virus has put a lot of things on hold, university studies are not among them. All of my classes are conducted through virtual conference apps like MS Teams. It took both students and professors about a week or two to get used to this new mode of education. It is not the same as real life classes and most students find it harder to stay focused in virtual classes.

Studying alone has also become harder, as the motivation level is not as high as it used to be, when the university was still open. It is more difficult to study in a different environment, especially when I am used to studying in the university’s library. As online exams are to take place during the quarantine, the level and time spent for studying might be lower, as most people tend to procrastinate when at home (including myself).

What are the differences between the situation in Lithuania and in the Netherlands right now?

My home country, Lithuania, is currently in complete lockdown. Residents are not allowed to leave the country. All flights have been cancelled due to the crisis, and none are now allowed to enter or leave Lithuania.

The quarantine started in the middle of March. It is surprising that my country acted way quicker than the Netherlands. They announced complete quarantine on March 19th, which meant that people must work from home as much as possible, leave home as little as possible, and self-isolate. The government implemented mobile COVID-19 test spots, where people can quickly check if they test positive or negative for the virus. Most importantly, everyone is required to wear face masks, and military police are monitoring the streets of bigger cities to enforce social distancing measures.

In the Netherlands, currently the crisis is being dealt with by means of self-isolation and certain other measures announced by the government — including universities being closed, 1.5 meters distance between persons, and more. They could take an example from Lithuania, which, in my opinion, tackled the problem way better than the Netherlands.

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