Interview with Diana Mulenga, student at Hälsohögskolan Jönköping (med school).

Originally from Falköping, Diana decided to move to Jönköping for her studies. There she lives in a student accomodation with more than 30 international students, while simultaneously working on her bachelor’s degree. Like in many lives, Covid has brought some changes to her life – what they look like explicitly, you can find out in the following.

How do the restrictions affect your everyday life? Are there any at all?

Well yes, there are some, but not too many. The most important ones are that you are supposed to be maximum four people when you gather. But it’s not strict, so even if you’re more than that, nobody is going to approach you or anything. You’re supposed to wear a mask during rush hour when you’re taking public transport. But again, you’re free to decide for your own. Also, you should not travel within Sweden if you don’t have to necessarily. That’s another recommendation. Basically, there’s just numerous recommendations but no laws.

in their weekly update, the administrative board of Jönköping county Länsstyrelsen confirms 700 covid cases by the end of May. (Photo: Diana Mulenga)

Would you say that your life has changed since the pandemic started?

Not necessarily. My campus life has changed a bit, because now it became usual for me to attend classes online. I barely visit the campus. But besides that, we still have gatherings like we did before. The clubs are still open, but the dancefloors aren’t. So, whenever you go there, you’re only allowed to sit and drink your beverage. Just be sure to finish it before nine pm.

Swedens population is divided into one part appreciating their freedom and the other part finding it highly problematic. How do you personally think about the covid-politics?

I’m afraid the whole thing is double-sided for me as well. Since I am a medical student, I think that we could have done things way different. I think that from the very beginning, Sweden should have been more strict with the rules and put actual restrictions. I would have welcomed a more hardcore-approach for sure. On the other side, I can not really criticize too much, since I do not even follow the recommendations. I still party with my friends. Also, we (in Sweden) have reached a point, where they can not put any hard restrictions on us. They have given us too much freedom from the get-go, if they would change their approach, probably nobody would take them seriously. That goes for the vaccine as well. Old people, they don’t want to take the vaccine, because they don’t see any point in it. This is a big problem actually, most of the people who need to take the vaccine, don’t want to.

Why is that?

We don’t know. People my age want to have it. Obviously.  But it is not our turn yet. Let me give you an example: In Stockholm, 2000 people were supposed to get the vaccine and just few of them showed up. So they called the police stations in the end, so that none of the vaccine would go to waste.

Would you regard this as a consequence of Sweden’s nonchalant way of handling the virus?

I’m afraid it’s more a cultural thing. Like, that’s just how many swedes are. We are very laid back. You can also see that in our way of how we rule things with criminals or whenever someone does something wrong. Then we firstly take into account the individual mental state and whatsoever. We don’t like being too strict. So maybe that’s why the elderly people don’t bother. They got raised on this view and most of them probably don’t want to spend the rest of their lives not being able what they enjoy most. That’s just pure Swedish politics, in my opinion.

So there is a difference between the generations, you say?

Yes, we do want to have the vaccine. My opinion is that people who have health problems should be first in line, since they urgently need the vaccine. I’d say it would have been good if people my age would have been next. Especially because younger people move around a bit more. We go to university for example. Me, for example, I will attend an internship in the hospital, so it would actually be good if I had been vaccinated previously. And I get the importance, I think, many of my friends do as well. I don’t want to bring it anywhere, especially not to my family. My brother has a heart disease. So it’s on my mind and I do find myself in a moral dilemma.

How much of a topic is Covid when you talk to your friends? Do you discuss it or do you push it away from yourselves?

We don’t talk about it at all. Especially not in the bigger circle of people living in my accommodation. Disregarding the occasional jokes when somebody coughs of course. Whereas with my friends back in my hometown Falköping we do check on our families and ask whether everyone is okay.

Do you already know when you are getting the vaccine?

Yes. If it’s going as planned, I am going to get vaccinated by the end of may. I don’t know which one I will get though, the hospital will call and inform me. Seriously, can’t wait.