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Then vs Now


This exam week marked the first one of my third year in Chemical Engineering. And I could not have felt more out of place.

The end of the second year was a strange one, I was back in St. Maarten taking part in university online. I had left in March and returned to The Netherlands in August. Within that timeframe I had gotten accustomed to my life in St. Maarten, and upon my arrival back in The Netherlands, I felt like a freshman again, like it was my first time coming over. I knew I wasn’t facing half the problems a freshman would though, and this made me wonder how difficult it would be for freshmen this year.

In my first year, I made a lot of friends through spending time in the Common Room, talking to my classmates during the breaks, and during Intro week. Naturally, meeting so many different people I became better acquainted with the world around me, and more aware of what has been going on in countries I previously would never have heard of.

However, because of the new rules regarding the corona virus, the current freshmen don’t have these opportunities to meet new people. In my first year, I remember being in a lecture and during the break I would turn to the person next to me, make a pun, and start a conversation. A freshman this year would be quite a distance away from their closest neighbor in the lecture hall, if the lecture would actually be given physically.

During my Intro week I met a lot of great people who would then become some of the closest people to me. But the students this year had limited contact with others, because the Intro days on campus were done in smaller groups. As a very outgoing person, I’ve met a handful of freshmen who described their struggles to me, and one of them went as far to say that they hated the city for the first month or two. Since they were new to Eindhoven, they didn’t know many people here at the time, and I thought to myself: 'I never really had this issue, because when I reached the city, I had the international day, then Intro week, and by then I had a handful of friends.'

This year, we would have to rely on social media to get better acquainted with each other, and as I previously said: I don’t think the bond can get as deep as it would in person. All in all it’s a good thing that they have these measures in order to limit the spread of the virus, but I always think of how difficult it must be for these new students and how different the world is now.

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