Studying in Times of Quarantine

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In spite of the crisis with the pandemic, I decided to stay here in Ljubljana and continue with my studies. The reasons for this decision are many. Firstly, as an exchange student here, I really have so many benefits, that it would have truly been such a shame to miss and to let go to waste. The accommodation in the student dormitory in Rožna Dolina is really great, and, after my first roommate left a month and a half ago, I did not get a new one. So, you get the point, I get to live in a nice room that is in great condition, with a kitchen on each floor of the dorm that I can use whenever I feel like it, and on top of that, all by myself. Double the fun. Plus, on a side note, just in case anything happens, I honestly believe that the healthcare system here in Slovenia is much better than it is back home.

Anyway, most of the day, I am usually staying in my room. And, not very happy to have to admit this, but most of the time I am spending behind my laptop. I am either studying, working on my homework assignments, reading different stuff on the internet or watching videos on YouTube. In either case, I am trying not to waste my time, but to use it to always try to learn some new things. I am listening to a lot of music, following some live-streaming concerts on social media, and always discovering new music to listen to. In addition to that, I am also trying to exercise at least a little every day. If not more, I usually do at least some yoga, in order not to get completely stuck from sitting down. Luckily, I also brought from Skopje my flute with me, so, sometimes I am using my free time for practice. Not as often as I would like to, but sometimes. On some occasions, I also use my free time to do some drawing and sketching, and I am also getting plenty of rest.

Surely, I sometimes do miss my family and my friends and, considering the situation, of course that I am often worried about them. But, the benefits and comforts of using modern technology are not to be disregarded, either. It would definitely have been something different without having the distance connection that social media offers, and especially without the video calls. On a side note, the most difficult thing, I would say, is to convince myself to study more and to get my homework assignments done sooner. Since, when you are not limited by a strict schedule, you have the illusion that you’ve got all the time in the world, which is sadly not the case.

In addition, I really like cooking, so I am also using this time for trying out some new recipes. I am trying to eat as healthily as I can, which, to be honest, is not a burden for me at all, since I really like all kinds of healthy food. So, as for getting addicted to some specific snack, I would say that I might have become addicted to all sorts of nuts – walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, brazil nuts, peanuts, and also dry fruit like figs and apricots. And, not to forget about peanut butter. I actually found some very interesting type of peanut butter in the supermarket, mixed with hazelnuts, cacao and coconut sugar. Amazing stuff. Anyway, my jeans still do fit me, and they might even be a bit too loose now, since I think I might have actually lost some weight. And, speaking of addiction, I think that there is only one thing that I could truly say I am addicted to, and that is coffee. Sadly, the coffee machine in the hall of the dorm is now out of order, since these days it is not being refilled anymore. But, luckily, there is always good old Turkish coffee to the rescue.

In the afternoons, before sunset, I usually go out for a short walk around the neighborhood and in the yard of the dorm. Unlike back home in N. Macedonia, where almost a complete lockdown has been established these days, here, thankfully, we are not totally prohibited from going outside. Now that spring is here, the trees are in bloom and the leaves are getting greener each day, it is such a joy taking walks around this beautiful neighborhood.

As for the online studies, after the lockdown started taking place, I have to say that the professors and the staff were quite diligent and very up-to-date with so many different possibilities for continuing the lessons online, and managed to get adapted to the newly arisen situation quite well and quite quickly. We continued with online lessons for some of the courses the very following week, and with others a week or two later, when it was already certain that the faculty doors, sadly, will not be opening any time soon.

So, the mode and the form of the continuation of the study process during the current crisis, mostly depends on the professors’ personal preferences. Some of the professors chose to continue the courses by organizing online lessons and meetings. Some of them are implementing the online lessons through Skype, with either video or audio calls, and others prefer “Zoom”, the online platform for video and audio conferencing. Apart from the group video / audio calls, the professors also use other platforms, such as “e-Učenje“ (or “e-Izobraževanje“) and “Google Classroom” (a quite useful section of the Google Account, of which I have never actually heard up until now). In addition to this, the professors are maintaining contact with us via e-mail and are always available for questions and consultations via e-mail. For some of the subjects, we do not have any online meetings with the professors, but we do get homework assignments by e-mail, to work on at home and to send them back to be checked and graded by the professors.

Finally, even in spite of the crisis, this mobility so far is turning out to be a great chance for me as a student, to not only learn new things, but also to retrieve some knowledge of things which I have been studying at my home university in Skopje a few years back, but which inevitably went pale with time. And, to be honest, at least for now, I don’t really mind living in such a mode of isolation. I am trying to fully enjoy this time with myself in every possible way, and to use it to work on myself on many fields. Plus, the supermarkets are open and food delivery is working, so, as for me, I really have nothing to complain about. Therefore, in the end, I conclude that just having an opportunity to be able to live on one’s own and study in a different country can be a great and very useful experience, even when it is done in „quarantine mode“.

Slobodan Tanaskovski

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