Laure Vissers has only attended ten physical lectures in her first year at TU/e. All other lectures took place online. “Every time we get closer to the light at the end of the tunnel it turns out to be false hope. As a consequence, I no longer count on anything at this point and become quite skeptical every time I hear about a press conference during which possible relaxations of the corona measures will be announced.”
When she wrote her letter to outgoing prime minister Mark Rutte in March, she still had hope that she would be heard. “I couldn’t believe that all kinds of field labs were being set up while everyone had forgotten about higher education. It’s impossible to meet anyone as a first-year student and on top of that, the education you get is of lesser quality. That is why I wrote Rutte that letter. Looking back, it would have been better to put my energy into something else, because I didn’t even receive an acknowledgement of receipt.”
Me and my laptop
Thijs Hendal (see main photo), first year Industrial Design student and Laure’s former classmate, agrees with her. “The press conferences are becoming implausible and I have little hope that I will be able to attend a lecture this academic year.” Unlike his former classmate, eighteen-year-old Thijs lives by himself in a studio in Eindhoven. “It’s lonely. Every day is the same: me and my laptop. I can bear it, but it’s no fun.” That is why he tries to meet as many people as possible online, and he is even in the process of launching his own student association.
He feels that the education he is provided with offers him less than he was promised. “A large part of my study program consists of working together in order to create a prototype. You need to meet each other face to face for this, so that you can build a product and have a good brainstorm session together. That’s simply not an option now.”
Fellow student Eva Wassing agrees with Thijs. She has abandoned her Bachelor’s program by now. “Those online lectures every day, I couldn’t take it anymore. I deliver mail now so that I can be among other people a bit more. I’ll decide what to do next in September.”
However, some students still manage to summon positive energy. First-year student of Biomedical Technology Sander Luijting moved out of his studio and into a student house. “Living together with people who are in the same situation is better than being alone every day and staring at the same walls.” The student, who comes from Gouda, says that the motivation to continue with his studies came back to him to some extent. “It’s still uncertain whether I will successfully complete this year, physical lectures would be very helpful, but I no longer watch the cabinet’s press conferences.”
Letter-writer Laure, who moved from Apeldoorn to Eindhoven, has by now decided to put her energy in things other than trying to get into contact with the prime minister. Her exam week is just finished, and she gave it her all. “I’m studying extremely hard. I want to receive a positive binding study advice this year in any event, and I want to obtain my freshman diploma as well if possible. If things get back to normal next year, there’ll be some parties to attend.” The thought of future friends, parties and maybe even membership of a student association keeps her going for now.
She too no longer watches the press conferences. “I’m not depressed yet, even though I spend the entire day in my room behind my laptop, but I will no longer let myself be guided by announcements about relaxations that turn out to be false. I notice that I did so before, and every time they postponed the reopening, I felt angry, sad and disappointed.”