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International student stories: Dealing with the impact of coronavirus

International students from around the world share their experience of how coronavirus has affected them and their studies.

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During this global pandemic, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed. If you’re a current student or you’re planning to study abroad, you might be unsure about your next steps as a result of coronavirus. To provide you with some reassurance, we spoke to four students from India, Spain, Malaysia and Colombia. These students share their coping strategies for studying at home and how the virus has impacted their studies.

How is coronavirus affecting your studies? 


Naz: “Coronavirus has really affected my studies because I currently have to submit my dissertation and we have one month of extra classes, as it’s my final year. Because of coronavirus I am not able to attend my classes and they’re talking about online classes, but I find it difficult to concentrate and acquire the knowledge I need. If I’m confused when learning online, I feel like I’m not able to ask questions as easily. There can be issues with online learning, for example sometimes there are network and connectivity issues that cause disruption. We cannot go out, as we are on lockdown, and as a result of this my exams were postponed.” 


Carmen: “Our classes have obviously been suspended and we are now receiving the work from teachers direcly. I don’t personally have any online classes, but some of my friends do. I study translation so its pretty simple for the teachers just to send us the documents and we send them the work.” 


Anik: “Universities all over the country have closed until April 15th, having closed on March 17th. As a result, all of our summer exams and projects have been postponed. I don’t know how long the postponement will last, and am not sure what will happen in the summer holidays. Third year students are particularly affected because the summer exams are postponed so they have lots to do in a short period.”  


Nicolas: “A big part of my studies involve working face to face with my lecturer, because it is more difficult to present plans and models over the internet. It’s really difficult to take classes online in my subject area, as it’s tough to have a real conversation and I need the lecturer’s input and direction. This is challenging to get across in a skype video call.” 


What are you doing to make studying from home more manageable? 


Naz: “My mentor is providing us with links where we can read our books and study online. We get sent information about the corporate world too so we are keeping up to date with our course.” 


Carmen: “I live in a shared flat with four other flat mates and three of them have gone home so there’s just the two of us here now. I’m using one of the bedrooms in order to work, as if it was my office. I do this just to switch spaces, so I’m not overwhelmed by being in the same room. I’m trying to stay organised but I must say it’s not that easy and I’m finding staying motivated quite difficult.” 


Nicolas: “I try to have a fixed schedule, to wake up really early and do all my things on time. I try to keep my daily routine the same as I was doing, I think that is the principle thing. I try not to be in my room all the time because I think one problem could be that you become lazy as a result.” 


What support have you been offered by your institution to deal with this situation? 


Naz: “We are unable to go to college because of this shutdown, but we get lots of information from our institution like how to spend this time, how to study, how to handle this difficult situation, including safety measures. Our institution is doing a lot to help, but studying alone and trying to understand everything in a book without any help is tough. Mentoring and guidance is so important, a specific person who teaches you face to face. We are getting 90% not 100% because of this coronavirus.” 


Carmen: “My university sent us emails and lecturers also communicate directly with us with tips on wellbeing advising on things like exercise, diet and sleep. We haven’t been told anything more really. For example, I was going to study my master’s degree abroad next year and I have hoping applied for an Erasmus scholarship and I don’t know what will happen with it at the moment.” 


Anik: “For our university, there are no studying at home policies, currently they are posting some assignment questions to submit when the college is open. The university has started to offer online tutorials, but some of the lessons are not available yet. Exams can be conducted online, but those steps have not yet been implemented.” 


Nicolas: “There is a platform from the university but in some cases it’s not quite enough and it’s hard to conduct classes effectively with teachers on skype. In my subject area it’s a little bit more complicated.  


Hopefully you’re now feeling more connected to other students who are going through the same challenges as you. For more guidance and support, make sure you check out our coronavirus mental health guide.  


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