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Rotterdam: The future is now

Lockdown felt like an affront at first; but with something baking in the kitchen and games underway in the living room, Tom Hollestelle reflects on the brighter side of social isolation.

A virus, which many of us first considered a hoax, and later on something that was hard to grasp because it was "happening far away from home", has now turned the entire world upside down. Ranging from the travel industry to the flower trade, some of the biggest and most traditional companies in the Netherlands are suffering. Just weeks ago, this country didn't count a single case of the Coronavirus, and life was as usual; everyone was still able to go to work, restaurants, cafes, and bars were open. Perhaps we were a little naive, thinking it would not overrule our country. But things turned out differently.

Photo by Tom Hollestelle

It was within minutes that all classes at university were cleared from students' agendas, exams were canceled, and the university announced it was shutting down all facilities immediately. Not a great scenario when you're in the last few months of your master program and you want to get shit done. Classes have now been postponed until the first week of April. According to the latest announcement of my university, all remaining classes until the end of the academic year will be taught online. Thesis deadlines will also remain. Not much changes, but the whole excitement of "oh, this will be my last exam", or "wow, today will be my last lecture", has completely disappeared.

We can also say that the Coronavirus has finally enabled what every tech-savvy student has been looking forward to; digital and online education. Many sources and researchers have indicated that the future of education and work will be online and at/from home. This virus puts it all to a crucial test. The future is now. Whether it will work is no longer a question. We live in a scenario where we now have no choice but to adopt and adapt online education and employment.

I'm currently in Day 3 of social isolation and social distancing, as was advised by the Dutch Prime Minister (with my girlfriend being the exception), and so far I can't complain just yet. We took a few days 'off'; rediscovered the game console of our childhoold (the Wii); played one of my all-time favourite board games (yes, board games), RISK; and started further developing our mutual hobby, cooking & baking. I mean, what else to do with your time now? It's a great opportunity to develop new interests and hobbies, but also a great time to reflect on and relive your childhood memories. Right?

Today Day 1 of home and online education and work starts, so let's see how that develops. I think this is something I can get used to, fewer distractions, a better chair to sit in and a desk to work at, with enough (healthy) food in the fridge to keep us going. Not to forget the Wii in the living room for a study break. My social media is also taking a break from the virus outbreak, as many social activities are on hold or canceled.

Coming out of this crisis in a few months time (hopefully), we will perhaps all have developed a different mindset towards a lot of things in life, and will have figured out who and what is truly important to us. Hang in there y'all, it'll be for the better in the long term! #flattenthecurve.

This story was shared by Tom Hollestelle, a masters student in Business Information Management living in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

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