Stay Delft: a medicine for loneliness and boredom

Thousands of international students have left Delft, but some internationals have stayed. Stay Delft plans to bring them into contact with each other and with Dutch students.

Founders Lydia vian de Fuentes (right corner), Femke Ypma (middle) and Ricardo Cordeiro (left corner) are checking their internet speed

Before the corona crisis, 21 year old Spanish student Lydia Vian de Fuentes’ social life was one of parties, city trips, basketball training and meeting up with friends. “As a board member of ESN Delft I had something on every evening,” says the Telecommunications Engineering and Economics exchange student.

And now? The corona regulations are forcing her and plenty of other Dutch and international students to spend much of the day alone in their student rooms. And that takes some getting used to. “I love talking to people and getting to know them. This has become a lot more difficult since the corona crisis.”

Online games evening
So she and Dutch Femke Ypma (19) and Portuguese Ricardo Cordeiro (21) set up Stay Delft, a platform where TU Delft students can meet each other online. This initiative is similar to the Rotterdam version and it runs online games evenings, cookery classes and pub quizzes.

The platform now has about 150 members, most of them international students. She hopes that over time, both international and Dutch students will join. “We really want to become a community where you don’t only do activities, but can also simply talk to each other.”


Lydia says that Stay Delft is a good medicine for loneliness, which is affecting some students since the corona crisis. It is especially difficult for international students who have had to stay behind. Many of their friends have returned home, their families are in their home countries, and now that they are having to learn online, they see few other students.

Better Delft than Madrid
Many of Lydia’s Spanish friends have either flown back to Spain or are just about to do so. She herself is staying in Delft voluntarily. “When the Netherlands introduced stricter rules, the situation in ‘my’ city of Madrid was more serious,” she remembers. Madrid started its strict lockdown in March after thousands of residents appeared to have contracted Covid-19. “You could leave your house just once a week and that was only to do the shopping.” Over the next few weeks, the city will try to gradually bring life back to normal, step by step. Nevertheless, Lydia is planning to stay in the Netherlands until the end of August at least.

It is now extremely quiet in her international student flat. Four of her seven flatmates have returned home. Lydia is in daily contact with her family. “My family is typical Spanish. We app and phone every day. It’s really great.”

So how does Stay Delft work? The activities are listed on the platform’s website. By pressing an activity’s red button, students are brought to the relevant Slack channel where they can chat with others in their area of interest and sign up for activities. During the event, they receive a link on Slack to a Zoom meeting where the group can start the activity.

News editor Annebelle de Bruijn

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