Illustration by Vivi Zhu

Go Local Students React to New Lockdowns Enforced Across Europe

From London, Berlin, Paris and Florence, students currently in Europe share how the new lockdown measures have impacted their everyday lives.

Over the past two weeks, multiple European countries have reinstated varying levels of restrictions as a response to the recent surge in Covid-19 cases. The Gazelle spoke to NYU Abu Dhabi students currently enrolled in Go Local programs in Europe to understand the impact of these measures.
London, United Kingdom
A nationwide lockdown was enforced on Nov. 5 and will remain until Dec. 2. Dine-in establishments, non-essential retail and entertainment venues have closed down. International travel has been restricted and movement within the country is discouraged. However, unlike the lockdown in March, educational institutions will remain open.
Sophia Chavele-Dastamani, Class of 2022, who is enrolled in the Go Local program at NYU London, shared her thoughts on the new lockdown: “Everyone is saying [this] is a much more relaxed lockdown than the first one in March. For example, we can still go on walks, we can still choose our exclusive support bubble within NYU London...things are still relatively open, so you cannot sit inside and eat anywhere, but cafes are open for takeaway and parks are very much open. So far, it has not been a huge change.”
On the topic of being a university student in London, she said: “The experience in our interaction with the city has changed a bit...all student excursions are now cancelled, and NYU London said they may have to move to a new form of student activity where it’s either two students together doing an activity or one faculty member and one student, and I think that simply does not constitute a student activity to the extent that it should but of course these are the restrictions that are put in place.”
Paris, France
France enforced a new national lockdown on Oct. 30 which will remain until at least Dec. 1. In order to leave their home, a person has to “carry a written statement justifying their journey.” The main justifications include going to work, buying essentials, seeking medical help or exercising an hour per day. All non-essential establishments have closed and universities have transitioned to online instruction.
Mathilde Simoni, Class of 2023, who is enrolled in the Go Local program at NYU Paris believes that the lockdown impacts university students to a significant extent:
“Universities are closed and bars, restaurants are also closed for one month...I personally moved to my friend’s house to not spend lockdown alone, and I know that people at NYU residences were not forced to go.”
She added that the small size of the student body at NYU Paris allowed students to forge close bonds, making it easier for them to maintain contact: “Even if we cannot explore Paris anymore...we still see each other on Zoom for online workouts together or Netflix parties, and NYU Paris also organizes some events.”
Florence, Italy
New nationwide restrictions were enforced in Italy, including the closure of non-essential establishments. Restaurants and bars can now only stay open until 6 p.m. Moreover, the country has been divided into red, orange and green zones depending on infection rates, which informs additional restrictions. Universities are not required to transition to online learning, so classes at NYU Florence continue as usual.
Martin Stewart, Class of 2022, who is in Italy for the Go Local experience at NYU Florence shared his thoughts on the new measures:
“My experience so far has been [just as] great. The restrictions have been in place for only one day, but I do not see it affecting my life substantially as everything is still enjoyable during the day...I have friends in the city whose homes I can go to during the night, and even on-campus life is quite good despite all of these restrictions since [we reside on campus], so we can be there at night and the still open after six...because cafeterias are under the exception.”
He added that the lockdown was nevertheless worrisome because “every week we have new additions to it, and I’m scared for a full-on lockdown. Flights are getting cancelled as before, so it’s a bit hard to book your flight back home and keep [the booking].”
Berlin, Germany
Germany enforced new restrictions on Nov. 2 that will remain in place until the end of the month. Non-essential establishments are closed and large gatherings are prohibited. NYU Berlin classes continue to be offered in in-person or blended modes.
Augustė Nomeikaitė, Class of 2022, who is enrolled in the Go Local program at NYU Berlin, expressed her relief at the new lockdown measures, saying “it is a really sobering moment...just to realize that we’re still living with the virus...that we cannot keep acting as if everything is over.”
She talked about her initial experience in Berlin which differed greatly from that in Abu Dhabi in Spring 2020 and how it has since changed: “I was very grateful that I could go to cafes and study there. There were people all around me...everything felt very normal. Now, that’s not happening anymore really, but it’s also forcing us — the people living in the residences — to spend more time together. So, for example, instead of studying at a café, I’ve just been studying with some of my friends, just to have that sense of having people around you but not endangering yourself and the whole community.”
Nomeikaitė added that her everyday life hasn’t changed significantly as the NYU administration had advised students to take precautionary measures from the start. She hopes that the new measures will help combat the spread of Covid-19 and that the country won't have to go into a stricter lockdown.
Yusril Nur Hidayat, Class of 2022, who is in Berlin for an internship echoed similar thoughts: “Basically, everything is still open, the only difference with this new lockdown policy is that there isn’t any choice to eat... dine-in is not allowed and then all bars and all clubs have to close, but other than that...there aren’t many other restrictions to interrupt our daily lives.”
He added that his work days have been cut from seven to three due to a restriction on the number of people that can occupy an office space at a time, but he also expressed relief, saying that “my personal experience during this...I would say very light that it’s been very enjoyable...because people actually stopped going to bars and clubs and restaurants which is kind of like...finally, people realized it’s a pandemic.”
Naeema Sageer is a Deputy News Editor. Email her feedback at
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