by Meldyva Schamm Student Reporter
Rotterdam, Netherlands – Six days ago the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially announced the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic. The situation has escalated quicker than we anticipated and a lot of countries were not fully prepared for it. Now, health regulations and restrictions are being heavily reinforced, travel bans are being implemented and in some, mandatory curfews are being put down. Citizens of heavily-infected countries are required to present the authorities with an official letter to go outside and they are in risk of a fine if they are not able to provide a valid reason.
As international students, our first instinct is to travel back home in this troubling time. However, with the unstable and unpredictable conditions that we are given every day, we are faced with a dilemma. Do we stay abroad or buy the next flight back?
Of course, there are pros and cons to both choices and it may often come to a tie. At the moment, with all live-educations being moved online and campuses being shut down, the obvious choice would be to travel back home. We wouldn’t have to worry too much about our families because we would be there with them and our moms wouldn’t call us every hour making sure we’ve taken our vitamins and washed our hands (yes, I’m sure everyone’s mom is doing this).
On the other hand, during our time of travel, we are at risk of higher exposure to the virus than if we were to stay in our apartments. However, there is also the issue of closing down borders which could lead to us being stuck in a foreign country indefinitely. As I said, the issue has brought up tons of dilemmas that need to be sorted out in a short amount of time.
This semester I have taken the opportunity to go on a student exchange program in the Netherlands and what would have been an amazing experience has become quite saddening because my experience has been cut short. Most of the friends I made on exchange has been urged by their home university and government to return home, therefore making the quick decision to book the next available flight. It was only last week when we all had dinner together and talked about staying and now most of them have gone home. It’s crazy how fast things change and how much difference one week can make.
This might not be slowing down anytime soon. There have been many speculations that the pandemic will peak in June and only then will it start to die out. Although, everyone is hoping this will not be the case as vaccines are currently being tested and doctors and nurses are doing what they can to help the infected.
There are 300 new cases popping up every day in the Netherlands even after the rules and restrictions have been put down. Similar to other countries, hand sanitizer stocks have been completely sold out for the past two weeks. Supermarket shelves are almost constantly empty, especially things like toilet paper, pasta, canned goods, etc.
A lot of countries are still in the early stages of this outbreak, including Indonesia, and the virus is easier to combat in these stages. People need to be more aware, cautious and definitely needs to take this more seriously. There are still too many of us that are indifferent towards this because they simply think that it won’t affect them. We need to listen to the restrictions made by the government before this gets out of hand.
STAY HOME. SELF-ISOLATE. PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING. WASH YOUR HANDS.
If we do not do this, in the end, we only have ourselves to blame. Stay safe and stay clean!