Jerry Van Oudenhove, aged 48, comes from Bambrugge in East Flanders, and now lives in Wuhan in China, where he teaches English and French.
Jerry now holds the record as the Fleming who has spent the longest time in lockdown, now 60 days, since the city where the coronavirus pandemic started took draconian measures to stop the spread of the disease – measures which now appear to be bearing fruit.
So, as his motherland goes into its first week of far less severe protective measures, the VRT asked him if he had any advice on getting through the difficulty of lockdown.
“This is in my Top Three tips: don’t count the days,” he told Radio 1. “That only gets you more wound up. If you get the idea that it could possibly last a long time, you’ll come up with solutions more quickly.”
Jerry keeps on teaching, only he has traded the classroom for a computer connection, as the five Flemish universities will do from now until the end of the academic year.
That brings a touch of routine and normalcy to what cannot be a normal situation.
“I’ve been very busy during the last six weeks,” he said. “I started pretty early with giving lessons online.”
Mens sana in corpore sano: a healthy mind in a health body is also part of the recipe, he said.
“I can go outside around my apartment building, but I avoid walking too far. I do some exercises inside, like yoga. Otherwise I do movement exercises. It’s all possible.”
Belgians so far have much more freedom of movement, but he has a warning.
“Prepare yourself in case that’s no longer possible.”
He’d like to be an example for others.
“I’m certainly not going to complain, but if I can do it here, all alone and far from home, I would think people in Belgium should be able to do it too. It maybe has to do with my character. I’m pretty flexible, and can adapt to new situations. From the start I was thinking how I was going to deal with this, and how we all might deal with it together.”