Going home for Christmas (yes/no)

Can internationals go home for Christmas this year?
Photo: Shutterstock

Going home for Christmas – who doesn’t want that? Last year a lot of internationals were forced to stay here in the drizzly Netherlands. Can they go home this year? Is Covid a factor in their decision? How is their home country getting through the crisis, actually? Resource asked five students, PhD researchers and staff members.

Matteo Grella

MSc student of Food Technology from Italy
‘Last year I didn’t go home for Christmas, so this year I will go back to Italy to spend time with family and friends. The plan is to take the plane after the last exam and stay until 2 January, so for about two weeks.
Currently the Covid situation back home is better than in the Netherlands. The Netherlands are always “open, close, open, close”. I think this causes more stress than a consistently strict policy. Italy has been more consistent and is opening up slowly. There will even be Christmas markets.

As Christmas comes closer, I expect that there will be some more restrictions because a lot of Italians will go back home from the north of Europe. Still, I think it will not be a huge problem. Travelling is pretty straightforward – I can just take the plane thanks to my vaccination.’

Jingwei Zhou

PhD student of Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management from China
‘I will probably not go home in the upcoming Christmas holidays. One of the reasons is that I would have to be quarantined in a hotel for 14 days and self-quarantine at home for another 14 days, which means I would spend most of my holidays in quarantine.

Currently, the number of positive cases is about a thousand in the whole country. The Covid-related regulations in China are very strict. If a new positive case pops up, this person is sent to a special hospital for treatment. The close contacts of this person are traced and quarantined in specific settlements.
In enclosed spaces, people are required to wear a mask and present their Covid code. From my perspective, the situation in my home country is a little bit better than here.’

Julia van der Westhuyzen

Master’s student of Plant Sciences from South Africa
‘The Covid situation looked pretty chill until a few days ago but it changed drastically last weekend.
At the moment there is a travel ban until 4 December. I was planning to go home after that date so it might still be possible to go. If infections now rise it might be better to stay here. It also depends on how difficult it will be to return to the Netherlands. That’s easier for people with a British or EU passport than for people with a South African passport. It will probably be a last-minute decision for me.

In general, it’s difficult to compare the Dutch approach to the South African approach because the circumstances are so different. South Africa has very unequally distributed healthcare and we have many people who are already sick with HIV or TB, so a lot of vulnerable people. Moreover, the vaccination rate is very low because many people rely on traditional medicine, and don’t really trust the government.’

Suraj Jamge

Employee in Corporate Value Creation from India
‘It’s a dilemma. The situation in India is improving, and at the moment I do not need to go into quarantine upon arrival since I’m vaccinated, but that could change. Like everyone, I also want to be home for the holidays and my family is looking forward to it. Last year I did not visit India during the holidays because of the lockdown. Also, I have a lot of compensation holiday time that will expire if I don’t take it this year.

But the flight are four times as expensive at the moment, especially around the holidays. So I’m discussing with my supervisor the option of going for a longer time and working from there. I’m a bit worried I would miss the contact with my colleagues, though: I’m now in the office once a week. But at least this is an option for me; for others this might be difficult.’

Maria Contesse

PhD student in the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group from Chile
‘I am a sandwich PhD student. I did my first year in Wageningen, then worked for two years in Chile and was supposed to come back to write my thesis. I couldn’t do that because of Covid. I only came back two months ago. Actually, I was planning to spend Christmas and New Year in Chile with my family, but the plane ticket was too expensive. Now I am flying back on 1 January. That’s cheapest: no one travels on that day!

While in Chile I was in lockdown for 14 months. Covid was quite serious there and we had a regime of extreme curfews. It’s okay now. About 80 per cent of the population is vaccinated. And it’s spring now. In July this year I got my second dose of the vaccine. I was extremely relieved and happy. I am young, but I was scared because I smoke. I survived! Many young celebrities in Chile died. And a lot of people lost their jobs. Covid also brought people together, though. People in the poorer neigbourhoods started to organize themselves and make communal meals. It was beautiful and surprising to see this solidarity.’

Also read:

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to write a comment.