Starting my studies during the Covid-19 pandemic

Studying during Covid-19

First-year student in the Bachelor’s Degree Programme in International Business shares her experience of starting a new degree during the Covid-19 pandemic.

My name is Kira Puls and in August 2020 I started my International Business studies at TAMK. I am originally from Germany, but I have already been living in Finland for two years prior to my TAMK studies.

 In Spring 2020, my entrance exam and interview were held online due to the Covid-19 related lockdown. Once accepted, I was excitedly waiting to start my studies. I was hoping for physical classes, getting a new routine in my life, and of course, meeting new friends. Thus, my disappointment was huge when I learnt that the orientation days and the first period (August-October 2020) would be held online.

Online lectures

 So far, my studies have been online as remote teaching has been extended until the 31st of July 2021. Only during the first couple of months, we had a physical lecture once per week. It was refreshing going to campus each Monday, as online lectures can be very tiring.

Most of my lectures are three hours long and they are not always interactive. I often find it difficult to stay focused when sitting alone in my room.

It is probably not easy for the lecturers either. Instead of a classroom they just see 35 names on their screen and when they ask a question into “the room” the participation is low or even zero. Even after studying online for over half a year now, it still feels awkward to open my microphone to say or ask something. Since the teachers are aware of the circumstances most of them are fair in the evaluation, especially about the participation in class.

Still, there are some advantages to remote lectures. I have saved a lot of time by not going to the campus every day or by eating breakfast during lectures! Nevertheless, I cannot wait to be studying on campus soon.

Group work in times of a pandemic

In International Business Degree Programme, all first-year students are divided into groups of 8-10 people. Each group establishes a virtual business throughout the first year of studies. Some of the international students were not able to come to Finland due to travel restrictions, so they were only able to meet other team-mates through zoom calls.

Luckily, all members of my group live in Finland and we can sometimes meet physically, which is a big advantage to getting to know each other and working together. In my opinion, meeting physically with the team increases productivity immensely.

Free-time activities

Luckily, we were able to have some after-school activities during August 2020. For example, a city tour with our tutors, a pub tour, and Fuksiolympialaiset (Freshmen-olympics) which included some fun games in a park to get to know our classmates better. Unfortunately, stricter restrictions were put in place in September, and all student events were cancelled.

Some online student events have been announced for Spring 2021. For example, chocolate tasting and Tursajaiset, a big event for first-year students, will be held on Zoom. I do not think they can really replace the physical events, but at least it is an opportunity to wear my student overalls! 😉

Sport Uni gyms were closed for a few months, but students could join online fitness courses and outdoor courses, like skiing. Recently the gyms reopened, with limitations to the number of people allowed in at a time, in order to make sure that everyone can keep a safe distance.

Better days are coming

I would say that it has been harder to get to know other students or making new friends in this exceptional situation. During the wintertime, I was barely meeting any of my fellow students at all, because of the general Covid-19 related restrictions. In addition, I needed to quarantine for two weeks after my visit to Germany over Christmas break.

Currently, the snow is melting so hopefully spring comes soon. It will be nice to go for a walk in nature or meet up with friends in one of Tampere’s many parks.

Hopefully, there will be some more activities and events for students as well as possibilities to study on the campus next autumn.

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Watch Kira Puls’ video.

Read more about the TAMK Bachelor’s Degree Programme in International Business

Text: Kira Puls, TAMK International Business student
Image and video: Dimitra Panopoulou-Huovila