Cathelijne (22) had to cancel her internship in Curaçao due to Covid-19

Interns are having a rough time right now. Their internships are being cancelled, or they are sent home due to lack of supervision. For interns abroad, it’s even worse. Cathelijne Groen (22) had just started her internship on Curaçao, when she had to return home immediately.

By Sarissa Valk

Cathelijnes’ internship was supposed to last from February until June. “It took a lot of preparations to even be able to do the internship”, Cathelijne explains. “To do an internship on Curaçao is an expensive and complicated matter. I contacted Wereldstage, a placement agency, and they found me the perfect internship. In February, I started as an intern on the sales- and marketingdepartment of Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort.”

Cathelijne Groen (22) during her time in Curaçao

During her internship, Cathelijne was assigned a number of tasks, including the design of flyers, updating the resorts’ social media channels and managing memberships. Her big assignment, a sustainability project for the resort, was just around the corner, until Covid-19 reached the island.

“I didn’t really notice the coronavirus getting worse globally. My family back in Holland kept me updated about their situation. The seriousness of the virus didn’t really occur to me until it reached Curaçao”, Cathelijne says. “Even after the first case of infection, daily life went on as we knew it, and nobody worried yet.”

From one day to another, the situation escalated very quickly. “Three of my fellow interns went home out of precaution and we had to start using hand sanitizer at work. Nobody felt the urge to rush home yet.” According to Cathelijne, Curaçao began taking serious measurements against the virus after the third case of infection on the island. “On Saturday I went to beachbar Zanzibar to celebrate happy hour. On Sunday, all parties were cancelled. After the third case of infection, Curaçao closed almost everything within a day. Restaurants changed into take-out places and 90% of the beaches were closed.”

“After these measurements were taken, everything happened pretty quickly”, Cathelijne adds. “All interns were in contact with Wereldstage regarding the measurements and the following steps that had to be taken.” In the meantime, Curaçao tightened the rules and allowed air traffic for two more weeks, before doing a full-stop. “At that moment, I knew I was going to be home within a week. I made the decision to go home within 24 hours.”

Cathelijne had to wait a week before being able to head back home. “It was a combination of both no cheap flights available and wanting to say goodbye. I made the decision to go home on March 16th, the same day I got contacted by the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA) asking me to come back home. I left the island on the 23rd.”

Now that Cathelijne is back home, she feels a little lost on how to finish this part of her studies. At first, she wanted to finish her internship over the summer break, but it is slowly becoming clear that this is not really an option. “I thought there would be a possibility to return by the time the summer season is in full swing, so around July. However, I don’t think that will be possible”, she explains.

“When I got home, I had to contact the HvA about the finalization of my internship. Up till today, I still have no idea how I am going to finish this semester. What I am really thankful for though, is that the HvA payed for my flight back home”, Cathelijne says. “I heard the HvA is busy coming up with an alternative assignment for people like me, who couldn’t finish their internships.” Unfortunately, Cathelijne still doesn’t know what this assignment will be, so she started her own assignment to achieve the needed competences. At least she’s happy she got home safely!