Covid Stories is a project in which the people of the Media Studies: Digital Cultures class 2020/21 share their personal experience of the Corona crisis. All the stories are based on one question: How did COVID-19 impact you(r life)? The answers touch upon different areas of life, such as relationships with friends and family, restrictions in student life, or worries about mental health. As a whole, the stories paint a dramatic picture about the impact that the COVID pandemic is having on young people’s lives.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”Maya Angelou – poet and civil rights activist
Athens, Greece / Maastricht, Netherlands
I consider myself as an “extrovert loner”. Even though I have experienced two long lockdowns already, one in Greece (in March, 2020) when I was working as a teacher and one in the Netherlands as a master’s student, I haven’t really felt isolated or restricted. However, the last couple of months even a loner starts missing simple things (simple before COVID, very important now) such as enjoying a movie in a cinema with friends or family, eating in a nice restaurant or going out for some drinks. Trying to be positive was my number one priority since I can remember, but I find myself sometimes struggling to stay focused on my goal. Who could imagine that in order to protect our physical health we would sacrifice some of our mental health!
During this difficult time relationships were one of my life segments that changed the most. I moved back to Italy for a long period of time, which was something I hadn’t done since I started studying abroad 4 years ago. I got to spend more time with my family and my old time friends, without the “rush” of having to squeeze everything and everyone in a week. I also got to do things I hadn’t done in a while, such as play in an Italian football team, which brought in some new friendships. I’d say Covid impacted my relationships by not only reinforcing old ones but also bringing new ones, which I am positive will last even after the pandemic ends.
The pandemic reconstructed my entire life, as a big part of it went completely online. Student life in Maastricht is something that I have dreamed of, though I never got the chance to experience it. Life is full of surprises, not always positive though. What we need to do is to adapt and keep evolving. Eirini Skarlataki from Greece.
I think one of the aspects that for me the pandemic has transformed 180° degrees is the way I socialise. As a Southamerican soul, live/physical contact is key to expressing myself. Not having the possibilities to hug my friends, to dance together, even giving a kiss as a basic way of greeting were all forbidden. Instead, I keep dancing with myself surrounded by walls.
The biggest adjustment at the start of the pandemic was living together again with both my parents and two siblings in one household permanently. Despite seeing no other people, it made it hard to truly ever be alone as someone else was almost always there. I started meditating a lot to find some (mental) space for myself, and would sometimes go to a nearby field to spend time by myself. After I moved to Maastricht at the start of September for this program, meditation continued to be something I could use to ground myself and calm some of the stresses that came with being in school during times of Covid-19.
To be honest, my life has indeed changed a lot during the new Corona. Especially in the relationship with family and friends. When the new Corona is very serious in China, it is the Chinese New Year. Because public transportation is restricted, I cannot return to my city for the New Year, and can only stay in the city where I work. Because all public entertainment venues are closed, I can’t go out on dates with friends, nor can I go home and live with my parents. Due to the limited fresh vegetables in the supermarket, I couldn’t even cook myself a meal I wanted to eat. My parents are very worried about me. My friends and I also had the prize money and haven’t seen each other for three months. When we met again, we started to become a little strange. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen it for too long, maybe it’s because I haven’t communicated with others after staying at home for too long. This is so strange, we are like friends we just met.
A lot of changes have really taken place last year. But the biggest change is my separation from my boyfriend. Due to the outbreak of the pandemic, my boyfriend and I were separated in two countries. I thought it was only for a brief separation, but in the end we were separated for a year. I also have many friends like this, some of them broke up in the end or some of them held cloud weddings. The physical separation caused by the pandemic has really brought suffering and challenges to people’s relationships.
Last year I had a really tough time due to the strict restrictions of quarantine measures. I have encountered many obstacles in my studies and my relationships. But the most heartbreaking things are the stories of other people who suffered from losing families and friends during the pandemic. These stories made me aware more of the value of life and how vulnerable human beings are.