By: Rebecca Cremona, Daniela Melian Melian, Hugo Tallqvist, Jenny Bathurst, and Federica Purcaro.
Edited by: Katrin Johannessen
It is not only in the UK that universities are challenged by the Covid-19 pandemic. Students all over Europe have also had a very strange and challenging start to the year. Overtime asked students fin Italy, Finland, Spain, Malta, Sweden, and Netherlands about their experiences.
Some students are sitting at home twiddling their thumbs trying to focus on online learning while others are attending uni with masks and arrows on the floors. No matter the country it seems that one thing rings true for all: making friends is much more challenging and most miss the social interactions of pre-covid times.
Alessia Neri, Biotechnology, UMG in Catanzaro, Italy
“I’m able to focus more at home with my own rhythms.”
“This is hands down a very strange and unusual academic year. To start my university journey this way was certainly destabilising. Universities here aren’t welcoming students anymore due to the majority of the lectures being online and this has proven really complicated when it comes to interacting with other students.
“On the other hand, online lessons have proven to be really useful for me, since I’m able to focus more at home with my own rhythms, however, I don’t think I’d ever choose them over onsite classes.
“What I miss the most is the actual human interactions that we had during lessons.”
Arthur Liemola, 3rd year Economics, Hanken School of Economics, Finland
“I often end up browsing my phone and completely ignoring the lecture.”
“The way we study this autumn is pretty much the same as when the lockdown started already in March. Almost every lecture and exam is online. Some professors have lectures in a classroom at the uni, but attendance is not compulsory on these.
“At the library we have to keep a safe distance to other students and the tables in the uni cafeteria are limited to only 4 people per table. It can sometimes be very hard to concentrate on online lectures if I sit at home, since I often end up browsing my phone and completely ignoring the lecture.
“I am happy though that the library and the university is open so that I can study there since I can keep better focus at the library.”
Sara García, Psychology, Complutense University of Madrid, Spain
“There is no way to change what happened, but I regret starting uni this year.”
“The overall experience at Uni is a bit disappointing. The COVID situation in Spain has made it really hard for us uni Students. Regulations are very strict and we must wear our masks all the time.
“Socializing has become mostly impossible. Making new friends has become more of a challenge than a natural, easy- going thing. There is no way to change what happened, but I regret starting uni this year.
“By starting uni this year instead of taking a gap year, I am missing all the good things this experience should have provided me. Instead it’s all about stress and chaos.”
Ludovica Ranieri, Linguistic Mediation, UNIMI in Milan, Italy
“I won’t be able to interact with the other students in person.”
“My academic year could only be described with two words: abnormal and challenging. I moved to university in Milan back in September and this alone was a big step for me, with more responsibilities to bear, while being far away from family and friends.
“I am so thrilled to learn new things but this whole corona situation has put limitations on my excitement. I won’t be able to interact with the other students and get to know them in person that’s what’s making me miss onsite learning the most.
Everything was much more simple and spontaneous”
Rebekah Reginiano, Business Management, STC University Malta, Malta
“I think this year really drained us as students and we were all robbed of our summer.”
“Our timetables have been planned in such a way that I won’t be interacting with anyone else aside from my class. We have to have our masks on 24/7 and we never really had an icebreaking day with the students or even with the teachers.
“Making other friends is difficult because I can never meet any of the other IT/Computing groups who study at STC but the people in my group were all very friendly. They’re all foreigners and after class, everyone was instantly trying to make friends. We all realised that we were all in the same boat and if we don’t push ourselves to make friends, we won’t communicate with each other.”
“Malta decided to postpone its A Level and Intermediate exams and moved them from April/May to September/October. I couldn’t believe I was going to be sitting for these exams in a pandemic. I think this year really drained us as students and we were all robbed of our summer and I honestly think it crushed us.”
Anton Winqvist, 1st year Criminology, University of Malmo, Sweden
“I’m just sitting at home in another country twiddling my thumbs.”
“I study criminology at the University of Malmö in Sweden, but I still live in Finland since I have not had the opportunity to move down to Malmö because of Covid-19.
“This is yet to have any effect on my studies since they are all online via Zoom. All classes will be held online until the 8th of November and after that some of the programs will start having lectures in the university’s facilities. My program will still be online, at least until the beginning of 2021 and it may very well be extended further.
“The only thing that has affected me personally is the fact that I am not able to participate in the different events that the student council have organised. This is not a huge problem, but it is allowing the other students to get to know each other while I’m just sitting at home in another country twiddling my thumbs.”
Jonathan Jans, 1st year International Business Studies, Deltion College Zwolle, Netherlands
“Chances keep getting bigger that the school will close after our autumn break.”
“Having the pandemic around while going to school and studying isn’t very helpful. In a regular school week i have lessons 5 times. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday i have online lessons. Lessons have been cut in half due to the shortening of the academic year.
“On a normal day where I have online lessons, I usually start at 8.30 and the last lesson ends at 11.45. On the Wednesday and Friday I go physically to school. These times can vary as I can be at school until 17.15 or even 12.30. In our school we have walking routes laid out for the teachers, students and every other visitor. With these routes the school tries to keep the students and teachers 1.5m away from each other. We also use multiple classrooms. Just for my class we have to use two rooms, since we’re 22 in total.
“Starting October 5th, we will have to wear masks if we are outside of our classrooms. Chances keep getting bigger that the school will close after our autumn break. Then the lessons will unfortunately be fully online.”