We are nearing the end of this strange and special year, 2020. Time to reflect on the status quo. 20 people with links to Ghent University were selected at random. They tell us what 2020 meant to them, what they will carry over to next year and above all: what they hope for in 2021.
Ko Delforge is in her last year of secondary school. She used the extra time that was suddenly available for all kinds of creative projects. However, she struggled with the lack of social contact. She compensated by writing lots of letters to friends and family. Little pleasures in a strange year.
What did 2020 mean to you?
“It may sound strange, but Corona actually came at a good time for me. I was in my first year of a new course, with more languages and less maths. It was far better suited to me. However, that meant I suddenly had very high expectations of myself. I knew that my goals were actually achievable this time. For that reason it was a welcome break. Although I found the online lessons pretty tough, especially maths. Fortunately my maths teacher was very supportive. I struggled most with the fact that I had no social life. The love and affection from friends and family is really important to me. I am involved in amateur dramatics, and that came to a halt as well. We had zoom sessions, but it’s pretty impossible to capture the drive and energy of such a group online. Every Friday, time and time again, I felt a kind of emptiness. I missed the energy after a game, the chats after a lesson, that quick drink together,… You do get used to the distance, but I still find it difficult.”
What did you accomplish this year?
“I have the impression I achieved quite a lot this year, on a personal level. I was able to organise my own days due to online lessons, which saved considerable time. Also, I had lots of spare time at the weekend. I normally run from here to there. We often go out to restaurants, visit museums, go away for the weekend. Then everything stopped. In the time gained I started lots of hobbies, including crocheting, painting … Anything, as long I could be creative. I also began writing letters to friends and family. That kept me busy for hours. My friends and I stuffed all kinds of things into envelopes. Anklets, sudokus, tea bags of all descriptions…you name it! The craziest of things! It was so lovely to get a real letter, in addition to the many phone calls and texts. I enjoy re-reading the letters occasionally. It’s still fun.”
Last year was like no other, but it was also filled with warmth. We supported each other and shared in each other’s ups and downs. Now this is your chance to thank everyone who was there for you. Not in the usual way, but with a virtual projection of your best wishes onto the Book Tower.
Of which accomplishment are you most proud in the past year?
“Most of all, I’m proud of my relationship with my boyfriend. We had only been a couple for a few months before the Corona outbreak. So it took some getting used to, as we were unable to see each other for ages. When we were finally allowed to see each other again, we hardly saw anyone else. It created a special bond. We might have seen less of each other, had it not been for Corona, as we’d both planned a busy summer holiday. In the event, the summer was very quiet, and we spent it together. I think we really helped each other through this period.”
What do you hope for in 2021?
“It’s my 18th birthday in June and that’s when I’ll leave school. I hope it can be a real celebration, with all my friends and classmates. And I also hope to be able to give them a good hug. I really wish for a month filled with parties, fun and plenty of cuddles.”
What will you carry over to 2021?
“I’m not sure what I’ll go on to study yet, but I do know, thanks to Corona and all the lockdowns, that I want to do something creative. I’m not one to spend the entire day in lessons and obediently taking notes. We’ll have to see what I end up doing. However, I’m pleased with the insight.
I’d also be pleased to take the tranquillity I’ve experienced during the lockdowns into my daily life in the future. Once school restarted in September, I soon felt like things were too busy. So I hope that I learn to think of myself and that I can keep some peace in my life. Finally, I hope to continue writing letters. Those lovely little gestures are a real highlight and are incredibly important. Certainly in times like these.”
20 people with links to Ghent University were selected at random. They tell us what 2020 meant to them, what they will carry over to next year and above all: what they hope for in 2021.
20 of 2020: Miglena wrote a compilation of poems, which will soon be published
Miglena Dikova-Milanova teaches Bulgarian in the faculty of Language and Literature at Ghent University. She has Bulgarian roots, but has been living in Belgium since the 1990’s. “I have rediscovered nature and myself during this period.”
20 of 2020: Alex received a smartphone from his children
Alex Verhegge graduated from Ghent University in 1969 with a law degree. He launched his career as a lawyer and later combined this with an assistantship at the university. He then became a magistrate, and was ultimately employed at the prosecutor general’s office in the appeal court in Brussels, where he was forced to retire this year.
20 of 2020: Lennert dreams of a carefree summer full of parties
Lennert Camp is in his third year of a bachelor’s degree in Dutch-Swedish. He was always going to study Swedish, he says, as not does he like Ikea, but also because he particularly appreciates Sweden, which he discovered while travelling. He thinks the whole country is cool!
20 of 2020: Kristien thinks video consultations are the year’s best invention
Kristien Lemaitre graduated as a doctor from Ghent University in 1998, before specialising as a psychiatrist. After doing the tour of emergency services and hospital units all across Flanders, she trained to be a psychotherapist. She now works in mental healthcare centres and in a group practice.