The rapid spread of coronavirus has put governments and universities and their students all over the world, under severe pressure.
Students in Spain, UK, Italy and many other countries have already been affected, with the entire population advised staying at home and universities suspending any face to face communications such as lectures to graduations.
To have some sort of idea what life under quarantine is like and how universities are helping their students who are working/ studying abroad in countries are most affected by this outbreak, we spoke to four students who have already and are still affected by this situation.
Araminta is a third-year Geography and Spanish student at Newcastle University. Soon after settling at her new job in Barcelona as a Sales Manager at Europe Language Jobs, Spain was hit by the first cases of coronavirus.
She said: “ Once the numbers of deaths raised drastically in Spain, I was contacted by the placement team at my university concerned of my safety and asking me to return back to England as soon as possible. My university informed me that they are taking harsh measures, such as suspending classes and closing libraries, observing Italy’s national lockdown, which will be in place until later on this year”.
She then said “ Fortunately, I have been given the opportunity from my manager to work remotely from the UK and continue my studies for university. University staff are doing the best they can. PowerPoints, seminars/ webinars and pre-recorded lectures are all very effective ways to help with my education”
However, she said studies who are undertaking their final year are struggling, regarding dissertations, exams and graduations, which normally take place between June. This will mean their exams will be taught online and graduation will be postponed in the near future, which overwhelming and upsetting for students.
Some students from other universities around the UK have already graduated via Skype. Students and lecturers have said, “It’s just not the same considering how much work all these students have done”.
Sandy and the students’ situation in the Netherlands and Spain
Sandy is a 4th-year international business and language student at the University of Applied Sciences in Vlissingen.
Sandy has been currently living in Barcelona, working for Europe Language Jobs as a sales manager. This is for her graduation internship. However, she has decided to not move back to her home country due to the risk of catching and spreading the deadly virus and this is currently the best idea during the lockdown period so she would be with her family until the lockdown ends.
She said “My university in the Netherlands is shut down until the 1st of June for sure, and maybe even longer. Students are having online classes and teachers are working hard to make things work for the students. As far as my coaching goes, I have had regular contact with my university coach where I had time to discuss my situation and the issues I was facing”
She also said “Every aspect of my daily routine has changed slightly. This transition period hasn’t been easy, on the other hand, I know it’s necessary for everybody’s safety and it gives me the motivation to follow quarantine rules and stay at home whilst working extremely hard.”
Sandy has said her university has already made all lectures, exams and graduations, encouraging students to use digital communication to collaborate on group projects or study together.
Stefani is a 4th-year student studying International Business and Languages in the Netherlands, but originally from Bulgaria. She recently moved to Barcelona for her graduation internship, which she had said “ I imagined my time in Barcelona longer however, I have high hopes that I will return and have that real ‘living abroad’ experience.
She said “When everything was still quite unknown I thought that things won’t get complicated and maybe my life will not change so drastically” however things took turns for the worse and Spain went into a state of emergency, therefore, she had to make decisions fast. This where Stefani had to make up her mind and go back to Bulgaria.
She said “ I feel safe, comfortable staying at home with my family. I am also carrying on things like normal, writing my graduation thesis and working from home”
During this current situation have stopped many people to carry out their daily tasks however for Stefani, this hasn’t changed. She has also said her university is still uncertain about what’s to come next however, right now they are running a smooth business and making sure all students are safe and well during the pandemic. A lot of the universities and schools around the world are dealing with this challenge and ensuring they function efficiently at all times.
The most important thing to do right now is ‘social distancing’, this will control the numbers all over the world and let things all back in place so we can go back to our normal lives and see our friends, families and loved ones.