Back to campus: ‘It feels like a relief’

| Pim Eerden

UT students can attend physical lectures again, thanks to the recent easing of restrictions. For most of them this is quite an improvement, as a brief tour around campus shows. ‘I noticed during the lockdown how my mental health deteriorated.’

Photo: Alonso Martinez on campus today.

‘It's refreshing to see people again’

Alonso Martinez, a master's student in Chemical Science & Engineering, says the last lockdown affected him. ‘I am from Mexico and couldn’t go to my family during the Christmas holidays. I was in my room a lot and felt my mental health was deteriorating. That’s when I decided to take a trip to Italy and visit a friend there.’ Despite the easings, many lectures will still be online for a while. But according to Martinez, hybrid education is already making a big difference. ‘Hybrid education is better than nothing. It means you can still see people and that is refreshing. Lately, I was mostly at home, but luckily the university library was still open. Now I can go to lectures on campus again and my Dutch language course is also continuing. That feels like a relief.’

‘Online lectures don't really involve me that much’

Justin Adriani, master’s student in Technical Business Administration, recognises the feeling. ‘I missed the education on campus. Online lectures don’t involve me that much, when I'm working at the university I'm a lot more motivated. The social aspect of studying makes it a lot more exciting.’ Still, Adriani was not lonely during the lockdown. ‘I live in a student house with seven other people. I played sports with them sometimes. I also went to the library with some fellow students once in a while, so I wasn’t always in the same place.’

‘I didn't really miss it'

There are also other opinions around. Second-year student Business Information Technology Koen Rienstra did not really miss the education on campus. ‘I thought online lectures were just fine. Tutorials were still mostly on campus and every now and then I would meet up with some study friends, so I didn't really miss the social aspect.’ But that changed when Rienstra caught Covid during the holidays. ‘Then I had to go into quarantine and I felt the need to see my fellow students again.’

‘Sometimes I studied in bed’

Selma Al Enezi, a bachelor student in Business Administration, did miss the physical education. She was in her room a lot during the lockdown. ‘I was in the same place all the time. I got into a rut and found it hard to concentrate. My mood worsened and sometimes I even studied from my bed.’ Now that she can go back to university, she feels happier. ‘At university you come into contact with students and teachers. I think social contact can have a big effect on our mood.’

‘I want to use my house to relax, not to study’

Myungwon Youn, bachelor student of Creative Technology, agrees. ‘Sitting at home gives very little motivation. Then I am in my own room all the time. In fact, I just want to study at university and use my room to relax.’ Youn also saw the motivation of his fellow students plummet. ‘At Creative Technology, we have a lot of group projects. During online meetings, people are more easily distracted and tend to do other things.’ Yet he did not always stay in his room. ‘I went jogging once in a while and sometimes played basketball outside. Physical activity has a positive effect on my mood.’

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