These TU Delft students can’t go home for Christmas

The pandemic is forcing many international students to celebrate Christmas in Delft this year. Sometimes alone. “The outbreak of the coronavirus has put a stop to everything.”

Various events are being organised for students during the holidays. (Photo: Dalia Madi)

For many students, the Christmas period is usually a pleasant time together with family and friends. This year, the outbreak of the coronavirus will limit that togetherness. New measures restrict the number of guests to three, traveling abroad is not recommended, and the Dutch Government has even issued an orange travel advice for the whole world. And that is especially frustrating for the international students at TU Delft. They are forced to spend Christmas here, without family and friends from their homelands.

‘Lectures start again on 4 January’

Last year, master student Pietro Francesco De Paolis (Water Management) celebrated Christmas with his family in Italy. “We cooked, ate and chilled around the fireplace together.” This year he is spending the holidays in his student dorm because going back home is not an option. “I have an exam the week before Christmas and lectures start again on 4 January. Apart from the fact that I find it risky to travel during a pandemic, I also run the risk of having to go into quarantine twice. With exams in January, that is just not an option for me.”

Special time
Master student Paul Deng (Environmental Engineering) from China is looking forward to the coming period. “Despite the fact that more young people celebrate Christmas in China, it is totally different from here, so this is a special time for me.” To get a flavour of the festivities in the Netherlands, Paul signed up for Christmas lunch with a local family. The lunch is organised by the Delft student chaplaincy Motiv.

‘The coronavirus has put a stop to everything’ 

Indu Subramaniam (Biomedical Engineering) was planning to visit museums in Eindhoven and Amsterdam this Christmas with some friends, “but the new corona restrictions are making this impossible”. So she will stay at home in Eindhoven where she moved this year for her graduation research. Because she doesn’t want to put her family at risk, returning home to India was not an option either. And although the festivities this year are in stark contrast to last year, when she spent Christmas in the Swiss and French Alps, Indu isn’t too worried. “Despite the restrictions, we’re going to make the best of it at home!”

Akshath Ram (Mechanical Engineering) is a bit more apprehensive. “I think it’ll be lonely without parties and outdoor activities.” To cheer himself up, he has regular contact with the home front, although the video calls don’t make him miss his family any less. “Last year I celebrated Christmas at home with my family. There were gifts, cake and drinks. This year the coronavirus outbreak is putting a stop to everything.”

Pietro is also a bit wary. It reminds him of his first days in the Netherlands. “I felt very lonely then and I am afraid that I will feel even lonelier during the holidays. Christmas always has something melancholic and without family and friends around you it can be extra hard.” The new corona restrictions are also limiting the options for students to get together. So that he is not alone, Pietro also signed up for the Christmas lunch. “And my roommates and I put up a Christmas tree. That may seem trivial, but for me it is a significant and sparkling detail.”

Various events are being organised for students during the holidays. For example, TU Delft will host an online Christmas drinks and a cookery workshop, students from the 5to12 Team will stream a live Christmas show, and students can sign up for many other activities on the Uni-Life app.

Students who feel sad or lonely during the holidays can share their worries with a Motiv coach. They can be reached daily between 16:00 and 18:00 and 20:00 and 22:00 by phone (015 – 200 60 60) and email.

  • More information about student well-being and who to contact in case of an emergency is available on the TU Delft student portal.
News editor Marjolein van der Veldt

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