None of us ever thought the pandemic would carry on this long. We believed it would come and go, that it would be all over by this time. The pandemic affected almost all parts of our lives: our work, social life, and, of course, our school life. It was all roses at first since we did not have to wake up and physically go to class anymore. The class became anywhere we were at the moment we decided to listen to a lecture. We loved it!
But for me, currently, I would definitely choose a physical class over an online class. Having classes online is great. Students decide when to listen to the class according to their schedule. However, the comfort of online classes has also come with a cost. As a student that stays on campus all year, school doesn’t feel like school anymore. You miss hearing the students’ chatter, the feeling of being in a classroom and, I guess most importantly, just seeing people around. The silence has become deafening. Despite the good it has brought, this new normal isn’t any fun.
I’m not the only one who feels this way. Some fellow students have shared their side of the story.
Personally, COVID-19 has affected me more negatively than positively. As an electronic engineering student, I am supposed to be doing lab experiments with my classmates. However, due to COVID-19, we can’t access the laboratory. I will graduate with little knowledge on handling some experiments in my major. Secondly, I like an environment with a lot of people. But now, dormitories are empty. Sometimes I feel lonely just being in the whole building with only four or five students. Also, my physical fitness has dropped. I used to go to the gym five times a week. But since last February, our university gym has been closed, which means I haven’t been to the gym since then. But nothing is all bad. I have also had the chance to spend a lot of time at home. I have ended up learning new skills online like data analysis using Python.
The pandemic coincided with the second semester of my graduate education. We had to start online education, and it was incredibly bad for me. Almost all of my graduate education has ended with online education, and I think I wasn’t able to learn much. I had a focus problem. We had to stay at home all the time because of COVID-19, and we couldn’t even go to school. I was both very nervous because of the uncertainty of the pandemic and also very overwhelmed because I couldn’t get out often. Also, I think my Korean language level has declined because I cannot meet my friends frequently. I have been negatively affected both mentally and physically because it also affected my research while writing my thesis. It saddens me that my graduate education is ending like this.
Because of COVID-19, we cannot travel a lot to spend our time as foreigners. Also, school trips stopped because of it. Since we are all taking online classes we can’t meet other students, talk, and even make Korean friends. During midterm or final exams, we can’t go to the library to study. However, taking online classes has had some advantages. First of all, we can take classes from anywhere, so there is no need to travel to the university. Also, since professors upload lecture videos, we can watch those several times to remind ourselves and to fully understand the lecture contents.
Since we cannot enjoy our social lives like before, making ourselves happy with food became an option. This of course has led to weight gain. Also, I don’t like attending my classes online since I cannot fully concentrate on them.
The positive thing about the pandemic is that, being an international student, if I don’t understand something from the lecture, I can always go back and listen to it again since professors upload videos. Additionally, regarding the directions for assignments, I can always look through the dictionary to find the meanings of the words. It helps me understand better than listening to the professor saying it out loud. On the negative side, I lost the opportunity to have Korean conversationsand, therefore, cannot easily improve my Korean skills. Also, since we don’t have to wake up early for school, motivation is gone, and it’s harder to focus on the lectures. It also stressful not knowing when this situation will end and not being with our families like the Korean students. The virus is worldwide, which means the same situation is happening in our own countries. It gives me stress and fear thinking that one of my family members can be infected.
Aida (East Timor)
I cannot enjoy my normal student life like before. The school atmosphere is so different since there are no students on campus. I have no interaction with other students, and it is hard making new friends since there are no new international students coming in. It’s also uncomfortable wearing masks everywhere. Since it’s getting warmer, it will be stuffy in summer. It is also hard making study groups with other students, and there is more homework compared to when we had offline classes. On the bright side, I can work during the week since I can adjust my study schedule without issues. I also don’t need to set alarms to wake up early for class.
After I tested positive for COVID, I realized that all the things I had in my life were a blessing: having a job that keeps me busy, having my friends here and other people that help me, and being able to go out for a walk. Every little thing was a blessing that I didn’t appreciate until I was closed in four walls 24 hours for so many days. All that I could see was what people were doing with their lives through their social media. It was really hard for me mentally, physically, and economically. However, my isolation helped me to have a more spiritual connection with God, spend time with myself and my thoughts, and make some new decisions on how to live my life. Not knowing about what will happen with your life after getting so sick at a young age had never crossed my mind. But it happened, and everything came with the good and bad. Even now, as I am still dealing with this situation, I’m thankful just to be alive and in a place where I know God put me and that I need to stand strong through it all.