A couple months ago, we released the first installment of a series of Q&As with last year’s graduating class. In this edition, we interview Gaya Mor from Israel, Angelo Cravario in Spain, and Oliver Szavuj, who is taking a gap year in Romania.


Gaya Mor, 18, is studying Spatial Planning and Design at The University of Groningen, and has recently returned to Israel to be with her family.

Gaya’s workspace, from the Netherlands to Israel.
Q: What was your original plan for the first year out of school? How has this changed since the COVID-19 outbreak?

A: My original plan was either to go to university in Europe or the army in Israel. However, because of COVID-19, the army process would have taken way longer than expected so I decided to start studying. Now that you can’t travel or get a job and the army isn’t how it usually is, it was better for me to start university. Although, starting university this year definitely wasn’t as I expected.

Q: What were you looking forward to this year that has been canceled or negatively impacted by COVID-19 outbreak?

A: I had trouble getting my visa and then I had to quarantine, so I started university one week late. So I missed the introduction week, which was the only activity that the university offered because of COVID-19 restrictions. So I joined some sports teams in order to meet people. However, because of restrictions, sports were canceled after just a month. I met a lot of friends through playing these sports, but then it became difficult to see them because restaurants and bars were closed. It became almost impossible to meet people on campus. I had a lecture only once a week and everyone had to wear a mask and sit four chairs away from others. The only other way that I met a few people was through a Facebook group chat.  

Q: What have you found most difficult over the past few months?

A: I found it difficult to do everything on my own, such as eating by myself at home. About once a week, I would do something with all of my housemates, but the majority of the time I was eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner on my own. It’s not enough social interaction and it was very difficult to stay at home every day, completely alone.

Q: What are the current restrictions in the country and at your university? How has this affected your classes?

A: In general, the Netherlands wasn’t very strict when I arrived; masks weren’t mandatory and they really relied on social distancing. It is obvious that this didn’t work. Recently they have increased measures: making masks mandatory, limiting the amount of people you are allowed to invite to your house, and cafes and restaurants are closed. So there is very little to do now outside of your home. 

My first quarter at Uni, I had two classes that were fully online. However, one of these had fieldwork days, so we traveled to other cities in the Netherlands which was very nice. There was also an option to go to a lecture on campus which was recorded for people to watch online. It’s ok for my course to be online, but it would be nice to be able to go and work at a cafe again.

Q: What are your expectations for 2021? What kinds of challenges do you foresee?

A: Hopefully 2021 will be more certain, but obviously at this rate COVID-19 will still be a part of our lives. I expect that my university will still be a hybrid model, but I hope it will be easier to make friends. I also hope that we will be able to have more social events and that sports will start again.


Angelo Cravario, 18, is studying PPLE (Politics, Philosophy, Law, and Economics) at Instituto de Empresa in Segovia, Spain.

Angelo, working with a classmate at the Instituto de Empresa in Spain.
Q: What was your original plan for the first year out of school? How has this changed since the COVID-19 outbreak?

A: To be honest, my plans didn’t really change much. I always planned to come to IE and stay in the residence called ‘The Factory.’ Although my plans haven’t changed, the life on campus has been really different because of COVID restrictions.

Q: What were you looking forward to this year that has been canceled or negatively impacted by COVID-19 outbreak?

A: Probably the biggest thing is going out. Obviously I had all of these fantasies about university and going to parties and meeting lots of people. And I have still been able to meet lots of people and go out a bit, but there is a curfew at 12 where all of the bars and restaurants close. Also, house parties can’t happen because you get a fine if you are in a group of more than six people. So, the social aspect of university has suffered. It has helped to be staying in my residence, because it’s a good way to meet lots of people and socialize with each other. 

The other thing that I was looking forward to was traveling more—even just going to Madrid to visit some friends that I have at the other IE campus. But now traveling is much harder. I think it is possible to go to Madrid, but it’s not very safe so I haven’t.

Q: What have you found most difficult over the past few months?

A: Every once in a while I get a feeling of nostalgia of missing my family and my friends from Bucharest. I miss our routine, because even though I’ve been able to meet lots of people, I don’t really have a set routine like I did at school. In high school it was always the same: wake up early, take the bus to school, go to my classes, and it was much more structured. But here, I often go to bed at like 3am and wake up almost whenever. I don’t eat lunch at the same time, I barely ever eat breakfast. The fact that I don’t have a routine makes it a bit harder to feel at home. Once you have an everyday routine it is easier to go on like that for longer.

Q: What are the current restrictions in the country and at your university? How has this affected your classes?

A: In Segovia, you have to wear a mask in all indoor and outdoor places and all of the bars close at 12 every night. You can’t be in large groups; it used to be a maximum of 10 people, but now they recently limited it to six. Also in my residence I have to wear a mask, except when I’m in my own room. At the university we need to get periodic tests, and fill out a daily form confirming that we don’t have any symptoms or had any contact with anyone who’s COVID positive. We only go to uni to attend class and then leave; there are no social areas or anything. In most classes you have the option to go to campus, but you can also watch it online.

Q: What are your expectations for 2021? What kinds of challenges do you foresee?

A: I am fairly certain that the first few months of 2021 will be similar to how they are now. But I am hopeful that towards the second half of 2021 there will be a vaccine and hopefully things will start to return to normal. Right now I am living in a residence and next school year I will need to move into an apartment. This will be the first time that I am properly living on my own. I will have some roommates, but we are going to have to cook and clean for ourselves. Whereas now there is a cafeteria where we don’t have to cook or clean. So this will be a challenge for me.


Oliver Szavuj is taking a gap year in Romania and plans to study Aerospace Engineering and Computer Science at Stanford in 2021.

Here, Oliver poses while traveling, before pandemic restrictions really took hold.
Q: What was your original plan for the first year out of school? How has this changed since the COVID-19 outbreak?

A: My original plan was to go to the USA and study at Stanford. In May, we were given information about how the school year at Stanford was going to look. As we continued to get updates I tried to stay optimistic despite things looking worse and worse. We were given the opportunity to defer and take a gap year, based on a new plan in late August. The new plan meant that not all of the students would be on campus. So even if I was part of the selected cohort on campus,  I would be online wherever possible. This became an issue for immigration purposes because ICE was considering declining international students visas if they studied online. In the end, I decided to take a gap year because the environment on campus would be very controlled and wouldn’t be the normal university experience. 

In the past few weeks I have been working remotely at the Romanian Space Agency. I am working on writing the software for a ventilator for hospitals and a COVID phone exposure tracking app. This has been very interesting and related to what I want to study in the future.

Q: What were you looking forward to this year that has been canceled or negatively impacted by COVID-19 outbreak?

A: I was really looking forward to starting another chapter of my life: moving to the US, living by myself, and university campus life. But now I am just stuck at home. It has really helped to reach out to people, some new friends, and some friends in younger grades from AISB.

Q: What have you found most difficult over the past few months?

A: The most difficult thing has been finding a purpose everyday beyond my work projects. It’s been difficult to find things to keep me busy. I haven’t felt a sense of achievement because I am used to having lots of work to do. Although I have been slacking off on some of my personal ambitions, I don’t want to just sit around all year. I need to try to do other things outside of the work that I do for the Romanian Space Agency. 

Q: What are your expectations for 2021? What kinds of challenges do you foresee?

A: I am hoping that we can get to the point where we are able to live with the virus. I don’t necessarily mean herd immunity because I don’t really think it would be achievable in many countries, like Romania. The main challenge I see overall is continuing to adapt to the virus, because life has changed so much already. For myself, the biggest challenge will be moving to a new country, especially because of COVID. 


Thank you to Gaya, Angelo, and Oliver for sending in pictures and answering our questions. We wish you the best of luck and hope next school year is as close to “normal” as possible. Stay tuned for our next installment of “Class of 2020: Where are they now?” in the coming weeks.

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