Our Summer 2021

How are young people living this summer in various parts of Europe? We interviewed some of our collaborators to find out…

Meeting Halfway team / 20.07.2021

1. What is your name and your nationality?

L: Lobke Maene, Belgian

J: Julia Mayer, German

A: Ana, Spanish

F: Filippo Zimmaro, Italian

2. How has the Covid-19 pandemic changed your life and daily habits? How is your life different from last winter?

L: I found a new job during the pandemic! I’ve been working there since January 2021.

J: The coronavirus pandemic has changed my daily life a lot, especially in how I communicate and collaborate with others. At the end of 2020, I was completing the last semester of my studies. At the time, we knew that the semester would consist of virtual teaching only, so we were all quite disappointed, because we looked forward to seeing our fellow students and spending time with them in person. Although the teaching contact was limited, we got to know a lot of new and interesting software in this time and acquired new skills in using them. However, in the long run it’s strenuous to be in digital meetings for almost the entire day. Therefore, some of us suffered from the so-called phenomena of “Zoom fatigue”. After this virtual semester, I have really looked forward to starting work again in March this year. Since then, my in-person teaching contact (with masks) has increased and I really appreciate that. Regarding the improvement in the summer, I think it’s possible that more in-person teaching can take place. For instance, I took part in a political event in the beginning of July and was able to network in real life, which was very rewarding. I hope that life will continue in this way but also be respectful, considering how autumn was last year.

A: Of course, Covid has affected my daily routine in different ways since it all started. I used to take a nice walk everyday to work, where I teach music. Then, I started teaching remotely, which was a bit of a challenge, especially when considering the importance of having a real perception of my students’ development. Now, I have gone back to uni while I am doing an internship in a completely different field, international relations, with hybrid learning of both online and in-person teaching.  

F: The Covid pandemic shocked me and pressed pause on my life, at the beginning, as for the majority of people. However, I have always liked to spend some time alone, so I found myself with a lot of time for reading, writing or just… thinking! Okay, after two months it was enough… Right now I think I am more reflective, but I don’t really know if this is because of Covid or because I am two years older and wiser!

3. How do you spend your time? Do you study, work or have particular hobbies?

L: I work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Belgium. More specifically, I am a Communication Officer at the Special Evaluation Office of the Belgian Development Cooperation. I’m also a freelance journalist/content creator.

J: As already mentioned, I studied and worked during the coronavirus pandemic. After a long period of time of studying online, starting work was a welcome change. I don’t really have any hobbies but during the pandemic, I have discovered new tools to collaborate and meet others virtually. Furthermore, I found location-independent online meetings very efficient and also environmentally friendly, and I hope that in the future some meetings will continue to be carried out virtually too.

A: At the moment, I work and study. I am learning more about my job, which is teaching and working in an office at a university. In that sense, Covid has given me the opportunity to learn more about something I was already trained to do and broaden my skills and career path.

F: I am currently doing an internship in Grenoble, France, for my masters in Physics. I usually use my (somewhat limited) free time to travel.

4. What about your summer plans? Will you travel or will you stay at home? What would be the destination of your dreams? 

L:  I am going on a trip to Milan and then a road trip in Greece.

J: I’ll spend three weeks travelling through Germany. Due to the current uncertainty and the volatility of the coronavirus pandemic alongside all the restrictions, I decided to stay in Germany. However, there are also great travel destinations in Germany, which offer a lot of variety. For example, I’ll spend some weeks in the mountains in Bavaria before I finish my vacation, spending time close to the border of France.

A: I am not entirely sure what I will do in summer, except that I will take some time off in August. If infection rates remain low, I might attempt to visit other friends in Europe, who I have not seen in almost two years! I think we must all be cautious as it is still not clear how new variants of the virus are developing and we cannot risk losing the standard of living we have gained during the last few months; after all the restrictions and efforts made to stop the virus from spreading. 

F: Unfortunately, I think I will spend this summer trying to finish my final exams and then graduating in October. However, if I do not manage to get PhD funding I am planning a solo (or couple’s) trip to Russia, China and Japan for next year!

5. What are your plans for the future? Do you have any ambitions or hopes for next year?

L: I hope we can all go back to our normal lives! We also have to take a breath from time to time, and not rush each day. We should live our lives, but stop sometimes to reflect on where we are now. 

J: I’m really hoping that the coronavirus pandemic will slow down for all of us. Even though it’s very likely that we’ll have to live with medical-grade masks and some restrictions for a few more years, I hope that the situation will relax and that normality will return. I wish everyone the best for the future!

A: I think we all wish for the pandemic to be over but, honestly, I just expect to get used to living with it under controlled conditions. I would like to develop the skills I have gained in the last year, and hopefully, feel safe to meet people abroad again. F: At the moment, I am really trying to understand myself and what I want to become. The temptation of a safe, and average job with a very good wage is strong, but there is also a strong voice that repeatedly says to me “go and follow your dreams!”. The only challenge is to understand what my dreams are (writing, teaching, or social engagement?), and what is the best way to achieve them!


Name: Victoria Mileson

Nationality: British

Languages: English, French, Spanish


Author: alessandra

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