How my AMS family kept me sane during Corona times in China

Students & Alumni COVID-19

24 young business students came to China in the beginning of January 2020 with the mission to complete their education from an academical and especially from a personal point of view. Some have Chinese roots, some know Chinese and others seek to satisfy their curious minds about China before entering their professional careers.

The thoughts running through my head before I left for China were about the compatibility between the people over there and me, the food, the language barriers, the places, the cities and the limits I will face (expected and definitely unexpected).

Before I started my second semester in Shanghai I went to Hong Kong with my classmates Eduard, Julie, Floris, Lineke, Nuria and Gabrielle to softly dive into China and to celebrate a great New Years’ Eve.

picture 1 groupvictoria harbor with skyline of Hong Kong

The view on Victoria harbor and the skyline is breathtaking just like the temples of Hong Kong.

Lin nunneryChi Lin Nunnery

The view on Victoria harbor and the skyline is breathtaking just like the temples of Hong Kong.

Although Hong Kong (now one of my favorite cities in the world), was a great place to be, we flew to Shanghai where I was thrilled to meet everyone else after Christmas break. While battling misunderstandings, confused looks on the people encountering me and an even more confused thoughts in my mind, I withstood the first challenges with the help of my AMS family. As a reward we took a walk through Shanghai and ended up at the legendary bund.

shanghai skylinethe bund in Shanghai

Everyone, who joined the class of CEB 2019 – 2020 knew it would be a year full of adventures and challenges. The entire class was happy to be in China and to start the main course of the program. Accompanied by 23 peers we were ready for anything Shanghai would dare to challenge us with.

AMS sure knew what was waiting for us, but no one expected the spread of COVID 19 in China. Sadly, this happened during the Chinese New Year, the only time for many Chinese to visit their families and to relax, and it turned out to be a crisis affecting first China itself and quickly after that the world.

People stayed at home, our campus closed down, the streets and metros were empty and the excitement from the first days turned quickly into doubt and concern. Everyone in class realized the seriousness and duration of this situation quickly. Thus, people reacted very differently: While some were very confident in staying and motivating class to persevere, others thought about their families and their worries. In the end, 6 people went back and 18 remained.

The inside of a metro train after lockdown Wuhan-1

Although we were all in the same boat, everyone had to make a decide for him-/herself about leaving Shanghai for good, since our campus was closed and there was no possibility to get new admission letters.

It was definitely a difficult situation making me feel lonely and thinking, sometimes even doubting, whether I should go back home where I speak the language, know the location and most importantly where family was waiting. It was without any doubt a tough exam on my mental strength and stress resilience.

I respect the decision of each and every one to leave China and I’m sure countless of sleepless nights battling with oneself passed, before deciding to board a plane and flying home to the loved ones. This thought also crossed my mind and I thank my AMS family for convincing me to stay. It sure was hard to tell my family and friends about my decision to stay, but it was much harder to hear the disappointment and concerns in the voices of those who I love and hate to hurt.

While the situation in Shanghai is relaxing, daily COVID 19 struck Europe more severe than anyone expected. Knowing that everyone I care about is in danger is harder for me to accept than, being in Shanghai during the outbreak. All I can do is to pray and hope for the situation to relax soon.

Xikang Road

Despite the fact of wearing a mask all day long, that squeezed my ears into a shape beyond ugly and painful,

10 Zhujiajiao Watertown outside Shanghai-1

the scarily empty and yet beautiful streets of Shanghai,

Hans Otto Wirtz vs 4 levels of Xiao Long Bao-2

or epic food battles that make you question your life choices:

group picture

We always made the best out of it! And, seeing the social distancing measures in Europe, we feel lucky that we can still be together. 

I enjoy Shanghai and the time spent here with my peers, however I sincerely wish to see everyone from AMS of the academic year 2019/2020. Imagining the reunion with friends from the other master's programs, enjoying a beer and exchanging stories makes me homesick.

During some lonely moments I realized that AMS gave me something far more important than an academic degree or the possibility to explore my family history in China:

"AMS gave me a home far from home."

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