‘It’s better to be in China right now’
Now that the epidemic has spread to Europe, some Chinese exchange students want to go home.
Anoushka Kloosterman
Thursday 19 March 2020
Luo thinks the situation in the Netherlands is ‘very disturbing’. ‘Not testing patients with mild symptoms is very dangerous and irresponsible to the population.’

Some people at the Kloosterpoort, a studio apartment building for international students, may have contracted the corona virus, believes law student Luo: ‘Because the neighbours can hear their coughing, and it’s getting worse every day.’

‘But they are not treated like patients, no medicine, no cure, and not enough food, because they cannot go outside. I’m very worried about them, to be honest’.

She thinks they situation in the Netherlands is ‘very disturbing’. ‘Mostly because the country doesn’t test patients with mild symptoms. That’s very dangerous and irresponsible to the population. The death rate in Europe is relatively higher than China, because they don’t help these patients.’

The last one

She booked a ticket to China for March 31. Because she is an exchange student, it doesn’t affect her degree. ‘I probably will not come back’, she says.

Sean, another law student from China, is going back one day later, on April 1st. At least, that’s the plan. ‘But I’m still not sure if the flights will be cancelled’, he says. Five of his classmates from his university in Beijing have already left. They studied in Rotterdam, Sean explains. ‘I’m the last one. The situation in Rotterdam is more severe, I believe, so they left sooner.’

‘I’m are afraid the virus will get more severe here, and all airplanes will be cancelled so I can’t go back when I want to’

He wants to leave Leiden now, because he’s worried otherwise he won’t be able to go at all. ‘My parents and I are afraid the virus will get more severe here, and all airplanes will be cancelled so I can’t go back when I want to. In Italy it’s nearly impossible to go back now.’

‘Fortunately all my subjects were finished in block three. I was planning to travel Europe in April, but now I’m not able to.’ He has one paper to finish and one final exam, which he can do online. Otherwise, he is on Netflix, reads papers, and chats with friends. ‘I’m going a bit crazy being home alone all day.’

Effective measures

Is it better to be in China than the Netherlands now? ‘Yes, it is. China has very effective measures to avoid the virus. As soon as we get off the plane, everyone gets a nucleic acid detection to see if you have the virus. Then they send cars to take you home, where you have to stay inside for 14 days.’

‘There are no new positives in China, domestically’, he says. ‘All new positives come back from other countries. So everyone who has been in a foreign country, has to go in quarantaine. And if you get the virus, you don’t need to worry that much. You are sent to the hospital and you get free care.’

‘I heard people here who have symptoms, don’t get tested, but are only told to stay at home. That’s what worries me the most… even if the chance of having the virus is small.’


Tanrui Li, a Dutch Studies master student who went to Wuhan in January to visit his parents, and couldn’t come back because of the lockdown, says the situation over there is improving. ‘There are fewer patients everyday’, he writes. ‘Life is good, sometimes the government delivers food at home, but mostly we use delivery services.’

‘My family and I are looking forward to the re-opening day.’