“Even in 2020-2021 you can have the best time of your life as a student"

Maarten Buytaert

It’s back to business! Are you ready? With the starting gun for the new academic year having been fired, Maarten, a medical student, certainly is. He tells us how he is looking forward to the new academic year.

What does being a student mean to you?

Maarten: “I hear older students say that your student days are meant to be the best time of your life. And for me, they are. As a student, you can learn so many things. I also love the freedom of being a student. Teachers no longer hold my hand, as they did in high school. I have to do things by myself. Certainly, now that I am living in a student room, I am already much more independent. And yet I don’t have any serious responsibilities as yet. Of course, I have to study to get my degree, but I don’t have a household to run as yet, for example. Although I do realize that this is not the case for everyone.”

What are you most looking forward to as a student?

Maarten: “It may sound crazy, but I’m really looking forward to just sitting in an auditorium — even though I know it will be different this year. I have not been in a classroom since March. I’ve missed not having the teacher in front of me, because that is still a different feeling. But for me it’s mainly about the atmosphere. Seeing my fellow students, and being able to talk to them: that's what I'm looking forward to the most.”

And how do you view the current situation?

Maarten: “I am happy that we can start finally after all these months. But it won’t all be positive, of course. Everything has a downside. And for me, that is the uncertainty that we’re going to have this year … an uncertainty that you can’t really control. It’s not that I’m dreading it, but I can’t say I’m looking forward to it either. What group am I going to be in? In which auditorium do I have lessons? What if the infection rate increases? How will that affect our lessons? And especially: what if I get a phone call because I had a risky contact and have to be quarantined for 14 days? I really don’t feel like it. Nobody wants that. But if it’s the case, then so be it … I’ll accept my responsibilities.”

Maarten Buytaert

What’s the reaction from your fellow students?

Maarten: “I think most of them are very happy that they can come back to Ghent too. Everyone has missed the atmosphere of the city. Me too, but I already came to my room a few weeks ago. I know it will be a different year anyway. My friends are also a bit worried about that. Still, I know they are all looking forward to getting going again. For example, I am in a number of associations and I know that everyone can’t wait to start up again, in a creative way.”

What do you want for your fellow students in 2020-2021?

Maarten: “I hope everyone finds their way because I think that the road will be a bit bumpier this year. We are going to be more prone to loneliness, for example. Still, I’m sure this year will be hugely educational, in a creative way. We are going to get to know ourselves in new ways. It will be special, but I really hope everyone has a fantastic academic year.”


Academic year 2020-2021

What will the lessons look like this year? Will the student restaurants open again? Check the answers to these and any other questions about classes, study places or safety.

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