The Covid Diary: Stefanie, 24 years old, Belgium

My name is Stefanie Tuerlinckx, a 24 year old who’s studying to become a journalist. My parents live in a city called Leuven (Flemish-Brabant, Belgium), but I’m quarantining in Antwerp, together with my boyfriend. 

Belgium went in a ‘light lockdown’ on the night of the 14th of March. The restrictions were announced the night before, I cried that night, the nights after that I could barely sleep. I haven’t had a good peaceful night of sleep ever since. Some days I can accept the whole situation, other days I’m struggling again. I miss the freedom of going anywhere without worrying about keeping distance from others. For example; I find it horrible to go grocery shopping now, suddenly you’re in a small pathway with three others. What if one of them is infected without me knowing it? 

I miss my grandmothers, my parents, my friends. Calling and skyping is nice, but of course, it can’t replace seeing and hugging each other. I miss going out in town and drink coffees, spending time in bookstores and going to dinner. In general I miss securance, certainty. I also had to postpone my internship, that I have to do to graduate, because universities are closed till at least June. 

Above all; I am scared. Scared to get ill, but particularly that my parents or grandmothers will get ill. One of my grandmothers lives in a retirement home, there’s no one sick yet, but you keep hearing horrifying stories about retirement homes. 

“I’m so mad and disappointed by people who are not following the restrictions.”  

I find it hard to ignore all the messages on the news, because of my study I want to stay up to date. During this lockdown I’m trying to work on my thesis, but that’s easier said than done. All routine is gone, a month in, and I’m still finding it very difficult to focus. I am lacking motivation. Luckily I didn’t had classes anymore, so I don’t have to follow online lessons or have to worry about not passing an exam. Besides everything I am blogging again, en writing articles for StampMedia, a press agency for young adults. I’m also picking up on sports again, following instruction videos on YouTube. I’m using this time to figure out what I want to do after I graduate, I’m thinking about doing something with freelancing. That’s why I watch a lot of videos about entrepreneurship, online marketing and so on. I bought a new drawing tablet, hopefully I’ll soon be able to make some good drawings for my writings on my blog. Last but not least; I go for a walk a few times a week. Only in the mornings, after that the streets get to crowded. Seems crazy, doesn’t it? 

The time goes by quite quickly I am absolutely not bored at all. I’m grateful that my boyfriend and I have this place together, otherwise we would have to miss each other way too long. He’s the only one that can keep me calm in this difficult situation, we made the right choice staying together in quarantine.

I try to look at the situation with perspective; I’m not short on anything, and if no one in my close surroundings gets sick – or worse: dies – it’s not so bad. We have to accept the situation, but I’m also allowing myself to have bad days. I hope everyone understands that it’s okay to have bad days, or to feel scared or sad. 

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