News - June 30, 2020

‘There were forty of us in bunk beds in a dormitory’’

Coretta Jongeling

Much of Wageningen science is conducted abroad, so the corona outbreak forced many researchers to face the choice: should I stay or should I go? We spoke to one PhD candidate that stayed, one that returned, and one that chose to travel despite the outbreak. How do you research during a pandemic? Today, part 1: Lan Nguyen, Vietnam.

Lan Nguyen, PhD student in Development Economics

‘I do research on the nutrition, health and economic status of an ethnic minority in northern Vietnam. I am from Vietnam myself but am doing a sandwich-PhD in Wageningen. I had done a lot of the preparations here. Still, I eventually really needed to go to my area of research to do the fieldwork. At first, I wanted to wait until the situation reverted to normal, but it is very hard to estimate when that might be. So, I decided fairly soon to fly out to Vietnam. My flight was one of the last flights to depart from Europe in this direction. I flew from Frankfurt to Vietnam via Spain and was only informed about what city we would land in a few days before departure. 

All the passengers were transferred to a small village, where we spent two weeks quarantined in a military school. There were forty of us in bunk beds in a dormitory. On the first day, we were all tested for corona and had our temperatures taken four times. However, we were never given the results of the test. Later, we were told that the test results were published in the newspaper even before we were informed.

The corona test results were published in the newspaper before we were informed.
Lan Nguyen, PhD Student Development Economics

It was awfully hot in the dormitory, and there was no furniture other than the bunk beds. I got hardly any work done. I am now at home, near Hanoi, and will self-quarantine for two weeks. This voluntary self-isolation is much like the Dutch lockdown. Following that, I hope to travel further north and finally get started on my research. I have no idea how long I will be staying, as it is almost impossible to plan anything.’