Sofía Castro: an exchange student’s experience staying in Maastricht during COVID-19
When Sofía Castro found out that she would be doing her exchange in Maastricht at the School of Business and Economics (SBE), she couldn't wait for her trip! Originally from Chile, this would be her first time in Europe, and she had big plans. But, after just one and half months in the Netherlands, the corona crisis hit, throwing a wrench in her plans. However, Sofía kept a positive attitude, deciding to stay in Maastricht and to make the best of her exchange.
In this article, Sofía shares with us why she decided to stay and what she has been up to while in quarantine.
Let me introduce myself
My name is Sofía Castro, I’m from Chile and just turned 20 years old a couple week ago. I am a Business and Administration student and have now been in Maastricht for the past three months.
From the moment I was accepted to do my exchange here in Maastricht, I had big plans and ideas for the semester. I like changes and challenges! This would be my first time in Europe, opportunities like this don’t happen every day.
During my first month and a half, I tried my best to live a full experience as a citizen and student of Maastricht, meeting many new people, hanging out with new friends, exploring the city, riding my bike, trying new food... I also started to plan some trips, enjoyed carnival and started adapting to this new form of learning called Problem Based Learning (PBL).
Deciding to stay in Maastricht
When the coronavirus started to spread across the world, I decided to stay in Maastricht because, even with the quarantine, here I can find a feeling of calm. Perhaps this is because of the measures the country has taken or perhaps it is due to the conscious culture of the people. Also, I preferred to stay here because I wanted to finish my exchange experience.
I am still far away from home, studying at Maastricht University and enjoying the spring in the garden of the UM Guesthouse. Here, I have created a little family with my friends (luckily most of them have also stayed). Due to the unusual circumstances, we have become closer than ever, which I think has played a crucial role in keeping us emotionally healthy. Apart from the many activities that we have been doing, such as watching movies, dancing, cooking, singing, playing some sports, discovering our hidden talents like cutting hair, I was also able to celebrate my birthday (and that of a friend’s too) in a nice way.
In the end, I decided to stay here because, even if this situation is not over before the end of my exchange, I want to live each moment to the fullest and keep enjoying this wonderful city and if it possible the Netherlands.