Interviews in a Pandemic- Ana
It's one thing to decide to stay in Maastricht. It's another to already be in your home country and have to rush to the airport so you can make it back here. This is our interview with Ana.
Hi Ana! Can you tell me a bit about yourself? Hi Grace! My name is Ana and I’m a Masters student doing Data Science and Decision Making.
Nice to meet you Ana. Where are you from? Do you view this country as home and do your parents still live there? I am from Brasilia, in Brazil. It is definitely still home to me and my parents are still there, but I slowly feel like Maastricht is becoming more and more like home.
How often do you go back to Brazil? I get to go back once or twice a year, which is not much but I’m happy to get to go back this often.
Why did you decide to study in Maastricht? When I lived Brazil, my family and I managed to formalise our Portuguese citizenship. I was doing a Bachelor in computer engineering back in Brazil, but suddenly I could study in Europe. Two weeks later I was applying to Maastricht.
Wow, what a cool story. How long have you been here then? I’ve been in Maastricht for Four years
Would you say you've settled in? Do you like your life here? I really like my life here, I’ve definitely settled in but I think I will move outside Maastricht once I’ve finished my Masters. Outside of my studies, I also work as a data scientist for a company in Geleen, and I climb a lot too.
Glad to hear you like it here. Did you ever think about returning back to Brazil at the start of the pandemic? I was actually in Brazil at the start of the pandemic, I was there the first 2 weeks of March. Coronavirus was still elsewhere, but whilst I was in Brazil things started accelerating. I was planning to go back on Sunday, but on Wednesday the US closed their borders, and my airline was cancelling flights. I had to make a decision very quickly. If I stayed in Brazil I’d have to wake up at 4am for classes, and I live with my partner in Maastricht, with our cats. There was a lot that made Maastricht home. The rule for the airline changed whilst I was in the line at the airport so that I could change my flight without paying, thank god! I was able to get a flight 3 hours from that point, so I had to run back home and pack my bag. I didn’t even have time to say goodbye to my family, it was so quick.
Wow, that is such an insane story. What was the deciding factor in such an important decision.
My partner and my cats, definitely. I could have woken up at 4am for class, but I’d miss my cats, and Brazil politics drives me insane. I’m already anxious about it following it from afar. I am still very worried about my family in Brazil though, my great grandmother is 98 years old and my aunt is immunodeficient. I miss my family. But my life is in Maastricht, I felt I had to come back.
What did your family think of your decision? They fully supported me, it was my mum that said we need find a way of getting you back. My siblings didn’t understand, but they were a bit scared because at the time Brazil wasn’t hit but Europe was.
What has lockdown life been like for you? Something I think I’m fine, sometimes I think I’m going insane. I’m happy I have such a nice apartment, and I’m trying to keep a schedule. I have a meeting with my job at 9:30 and 4:30 each day. I try and do some exercise like yoga each morning. And I've been taking time to learn paint!
Whats been the toughest thing in lockdown so far?
I don’t do well with not having plan, and I was so excited about my internship that I was supposed to do. I was meant to be at the European Space Agency! But that has been indefinitely postponed, which means I can’t graduate. I hate the uncertainty.
The whole experience of this shifted my idea of where is home. Being an expat is hard, it was so tricky to realise that I didn’t want to spend all the time in Brazil, and that I could realise that Maastricht had become my home. I felt like I was betraying my home country but I was so happy I had so much .
What have been the things that make you happy?
Exercise! I was never that disciplined but the fact I’m doing it every day is a nice surprise. And my cats! They’re so happy I’m home, I’m going to he heartbroken when things go back to normal.
Thank you for being interviewed Ana! One final question- what would you say to new students coming to Maastricht in September? Any advice to pass on? To make use of all the nice communities, you can do so much in the city! There are so many independently organised events organised by student associations, and there are groups for everything.