How foreign students in the Netherlands handle the lockdown

‘A smiley emoji can go a long way’

The lockdown and travel restrictions due to the novel coronavirus forces students to stay indoors. This includes foreign students studying in the Netherlands with an Orange Knowledge scholarship. How do they endure far from home?

Funmilayo Modebola-Fadimine: “I had just returned from Nigeria to complete my research in Rotterdam when the lockdown came into effect. The major focus of everyone at this difficult time is to stay safe by observing personal hygiene and social distancing, which is quite a challenge considering the nature of human beings. We want to interact, socialise and explore.”

“The inability to physically connect with friends and loved ones is indeed a Herculean task that needs to be done anyway. Staying here in a shared flat with three other individuals, yet being wary of coming close to each other, is a nightmare I pray ends very soon.”

“To me, social media serves as lifeline: I can connect with family and friends through Facebook, WhatsApp and video calling. This helps me to know that I am not alone. Interestingly, some friends and I have video conferences every Saturday to learn from each other and develop ourselves.”

“I feel reaching out to people in every way except physical contact is what is needed now. That call, that text, that smiley emoji telling someone to hold on, stay strong, stay safe, will make all the difference.”

"A smiley emoji can go a long way." - Funmilayo Modebola-Fadimine (Nigeria), IHS Institute for Housing & Urban Development Studies, Erasmus University, Rotterdam

What is the Orange Knowledge Programme?

The Orange Knowledge Programme gives Dutch education institutions the opportunity to offer scholarships to mid-career professionals from eligible countries, to study in the Netherlands. Scholarships are offered for short courses and master's programmes at Dutch education institutions.

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Jackie Owilli: “The novel coronavirus caught the world by surprise, myself included. It never crossed my mind that the situation would get this serious. It is remarkable to see the impressive measures Wageningen University has taken to shift all on-campus learning activities to online learning. Initially, this was a temporary measure, but as the crisis escalated, all plans changed. This led to prolonged physical distancing to minimise the spread of the pandemic.”

“So far, the situation has altered my social life as I no longer mingle with my friends face-to-face. I also have to spend prolonged hours on the screen due to the online lessons. Nonetheless, online education is going on smoothly.”

“I am optimistic this crisis will end soon. However, the pandemic is real. As a society, we should handle it with care, and observe WHO directives. Stay home, stay safe, and sanitise.”

"Stay home and stay safe." - Jackie Owilli (Kenia), International Development Studies, Wageningen University & Research