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Studying at the UG in times of Corona

Date:10 July 2020
Author:Katherine Arena
Katherine Arena, Italy Bachelor in European Languages and Cultures
Katherine Arena, Italy Bachelor in European Languages and Cultures

In the past months we have seen our world radically change due to COVID-19. The measures taken had a huge impact on everyone’s daily routine. As a student at the University of Groningen, I was confronted with the fact that the University closed all its buildings to prevent the virus from spreading. At first no one knew what was going to happen; however, the UG’s response was quick and I was provided with the information I needed to continue my studies.

I had just finished giving a presentation for a course, when we received the email that as of the following day the academic education was to be transferred to online platforms. Although the university already worked with online platforms and we as students were used to working with Nestor (the Student Portal where we receive all materials needed to be prepared for our classes), this meant that things were going to look different.

On a personal note I must say that I, together with fellow students, felt a bit lost, we had no idea how things were going to develop, and fear as well as uncertainty were at the centre of our thoughts. Especially for me it was not easy, far away from home as I am an international student from Italy, at the time the European country with the largest number of cases due to the virus.

It helped a lot that the academic community in Groningen is very strong and, despite the challenges, communication online became more frequent. Professors shared their PowerPoints and class materials. Although communication with them already happened via email, it became the norm. Additionally, the library offers a wide range of sources accessible online, which was a great advantage to continue with our studies.

I would say that the most significant change was to adapt to having online classes. The platforms used mainly were Blackboard Collaborate and Google Meet, and these were pretty simple to use; if there were any issues, professors would help us out. One of the main challenges of having online classes was the setting. It was for sure very nice to wake up at the last moment, have breakfast and still wear a pyjama while following a class; I bet this is every student’s dream. However, to stay at home and listen to hours of lectures was a struggle. Of course professors also had to adapt to this new way of educating and in the end they found ways to make online lectures interactive by adding more class discussions and breaks.

To conclude, although the amount of work increased, all of the UG staff was available to our needs. We were all able to keep up with the classes, to keep going with our assignments and exams, and eventually we were able to complete our Bachelor. We have to thank everyone at the UG for not giving up and be proud of ourselves for staying strong in these challenging times!

About the author

Katherine Arena
Katherine Arena
I am Katherine Arena and I come from Italy. I am a third year Bachelor student enrolled in the programme European Languages and Cultures. I have always wanted to study abroad and in English. I discovered Groningen and after three years of living and studying here I feel so lucky to have found this place. Before I came here, I was very afraid, I was unsure of what to expect. When I came here, I was very surprised to see how both the university and the city were full of options and opportunities. Everyone I met tried to help with integration and I made connections that lasted for my full bachelor programme. I am very happy to say that after my Bachelor I will keep studying at the UG for my Master. If you have any questions or doubts please do not hesitate to contact me, I will be very happy to help you!
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