Tamara, studying Entrepreneurship and business design
The outbreak of Covid-19 has changed the way we learn and participate in group work but also the way we interact with our friends outside the classroom. Going digital has been surprisingly seamless even though we were all a bit nervous about the transition of moving from lecture halls to the digital rooms of Zoom! Online lectures have mirrored the usual classroom format where we still have breaks every hour, an extended lunch break and breakout sessions for group discussions. The lecturer has control over putting everyone in groups and then bringing them back into the main session so as students we haven’t had to do a whole lot ! Another perk is that we can all sleep-in just that little bit longer as we don’t have to take into account travel time. Also, by sneakily switching my camera off I am able to learn and eat my breakfast simultaneously!
Even though it has been seamless, I personally miss the face-to-face interaction with my classmates. Being able to actively engage with them and then go on coffee breaks together is an activity that I hope I will get to enjoy again in the near future. It has been quite common to have lunch or even breaks together over Zoom but it is not quite the same as the real thing - at least we’re trying though!
The uncertainty of being away from home has been slightly stressful due to the different approaches’ countries have used to handle the outbreak. The “not knowing” feeling of which approach is best whilst also not knowing when this will all be over is difficult. I was meant to travel back home to Australia over the Easter break but because of quarantine measures, I decided to stay and ride out the situation here in Gothenburg.
My approach to meeting friends has certainly changed and instead of meeting in public places, we spend more time at each other's apartments or speaking over messenger apps. As long as we’re not showing symptoms and following current guidelines from the Swedish government, we’ve decided that it is okay to see each other in the comfort of each other’s homes as complete social isolation would dampen the mood even more!
We have also been going on walks outside but we are very aware that we have to greet each other from afar and keep our distance whilst walking as well. I haven’t been worried personally by the “social distancing” recommendations because I feel that as long as we adhere to them we should be okay! Keeping active has also changed; I’ve spent a lot more time walking around parks than going to the gym. Despite this change, I have actually enjoyed spending time outdoors in open spaces especially as the weather has been so lovely the past week.
All in all, this is how the outbreak of the virus has affected the way I learn and my overall student life at Chalmers so far. However, it has not all been negative. I have learnt that my teachers, my school and my friends and I are resilient and that we are capable of coming up with creative solutions to problems when we’re faced with unforeseen uncertainties. I am still more than happy to be where I am and studying at Chalmers but I definitely do hope that things go back to normal soon!
Amanda, studying Industrial ecology
My teachers have done a good job of transitioning everything to online. In both of my classes, we still have group projects, now working over Zoom to plan everything.
Immediately it was clear that I and my classmates would like to be able to find ways to interact even though we don’t have physical classes together. During our short breaks in class, my friends and I have video calls, and we have had virtual lunch together too. We have also found ways to have fun together by playing games as a group like Quiplash (a party game where the goal is basically to be the funniest) or fun quizzes where we can see and talk to each other while we play. It’s really nice to have the option to see everyone whilst we’re home, but I can’t wait until we can all meet up again!
Being far from home at this time has been a bit strange. I follow the news both in Sweden and in the US to understand what I should be doing. Ohio, the state I’m from, has been very proactive about setting measures like closing businesses and setting a stay-at-home order. It seems like Sweden is moving toward stronger measures, urging people to stay home at Easter. I have been following the stronger recommendations, not going to businesses except for the grocery store for a few weeks now. I feel safe doing so, and I’m glad that my family has good information to follow too. One nice thing about everyone being home is that they are much more available to call, and I’ve been able to catch up with people. I do think the uncertainty of the situation is the worst aspect. My brother was supposed to visit at Easter, so I hope that it will be possible to see him this summer. My international friends and I definitely lean on each other to have a sense of community and normalcy.
I have found activities that I can do which are “coronavirus friendly”. I’ve picked up knitting and embroidery projects that I half-finished before and started baking more. Sure, sometimes I lay down and fall into a TikTok hole on my phone for a while, but I’m trying to limit this by having other things to do. It is great that we can go outside, get fresh air and meet up with some friends in a safe way, especially since the weather is becoming so nice in Gothenburg! I can easily walk to the grocery store, and I just try to leave a good amount of space between myself and others. I also tried getting groceries delivered, which was very easy and convenient for allowing people to stay home.
Of course, I do miss the activities I used to be able to do. I love going to the movies, but now some cinemas are showing movies online, you just have to pay for a ticket like normal and can continue to support small businesses. There is also a Netflix extension that lets you watch movies in sync with others, and my friends and I plan to try this out. Another activity I wish I could do is to go to afterworks with classmates from my program, which used to happen every few weeks. To work around this, we had the first one recently on Zoom, and it was great to see them again! The trick for activities now is finding ways to adapt. There are many things that can be done similarly through the internet (though we’ll see how it goes when I inevitably try to cut my own hair).
This is a strange time, but so far, I’ve seen that the people I know are more than willing to lend a helping hand, for example, by helping those of us unfamiliar with Swedish media find good sources for up-to-date news, find new creative ways to be around each other with an outdoor picnic or Zoom hangout, and be a voice of support! A lot has changed in a short time, but overall it is life as usual. I feel good to be where I am, and I hope we can come out of this soon, learning that we are capable of taking on the uncertainties of life!