How strange it is to think that I study in SPB but I have not been there for almost two years? That is the sad reality of today.
My name is Indiana. I am from Belgium and I study Political Science and World Politics in Higher School of Economics. As we all know, the Covid-19 pandemic strongly impacted our lives, our routines, our lifestyles, our visions of the world and our ways of studying. Veny international students are faced with the situation that being students in Saint Petersburg, they haven't yet been to this city.
We have talked with Sarah and Luis about how it feels to study online far from our beloved city of Saint Petersburg and about their perceptions of the online studies, its impacts, their lives and personal development.
Being far from Saint Petersburg and studying online gave me the opportunity to do other things. For instance, I finally found the time to exercise and devote some of my time for multiple extracurricular projects. It was pretty great not to lose too much time anymore travelling to school. Studying online was relatively good and rather convenient. In spite of all the advantages, I still feel disappointment about not studying in the campus in Saint Petersburg as I was missing the traditional seminars’ dynamic that we had before the pandemic.
Another unfavourable aspect of studying online and not being in Saint Petersburg is that sometimes, professors cannot use the tools available on the internet in order to have a seminar as dynamic and exciting as offline seminars that we used to have.
I felt a bit anxious not being able to visit me universityt friends, chatting with them, walking around the beautiful and vibrant city. Although, being far from this life, I understood that, while living in SPB, as a student, you actually lived two lives. There was the study life, living in the dorm seemingly less fancy and greyer, and there was the cooler and fancier life when you go out. I missed the fact that the city had a lot to offer you, such as multiple opportunities for personal development. What is really different from being back home at many levels.
I consider online experience to be a sad one. Online studies confused me a lot. I thought that not studying on campus led me to study less hard. I deeply missed the ability to connect with the professors and my classmates in many ways, as we used to all do on usual classes. Not being in Saint Petersburg did not bring me the same freedom as before. During the online mode, we had fewer possibilities of debates and online classes generated a barrier between us and the professors. When we were offline, we used to have a moment to joke, to be normal students and to share an ordinary professor-student relationship. During online classes we lost the human part of the studies. It was really hard for me to follow classes according to my time zone. For instance, I used to have classes at three in the morning. Being online, I indeed won a lot of time to do other things. The way to the university and getting ready for studies usually took a while and made us lose quite an amount of time daily. But being online I took the opportunity to use this time to do other activities, I had more time for working or for my personal life, or more time to do stuff that I was genuinely interested in.
However, online studies and the fact of being far from Saint Petersburg brought me sad moments as I could not anylonger have “obshaga” life. At the same time it was actually hard to miss the city of Saint Petersburg itself because of the joy of being finally back home. But I did miss the idea of SPb offering me a space for actually experience the whole student life.