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“Coronatimes” in the eyes of an international student

03/04/2021 | TU Graz people

By Jovana Vujačić

Jovana Vujačić, an international degree seeking student from Serbia in Graz, Austria, summarises her experiences with digital teaching and everyday life at TU Graz during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jovana Vujačić is studying abroad. As an "ambassador" of Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) in Graz, Austria, she shares her experiences with international students and all those who want to become internationals.

Needless to say, ever since we are living in a state of a pandemic, our everyday lives have gotten a bit more complicated. Some people were hit harder than the other, however we have all suffered a big change. For us students, this change was quite radical. All lectures that could be adapted to distance learning were held digitally, and on-site teaching happened only in specific circumstances.  This new dynamic was a blessing for some, since you can gain some time normally lost in transportation to university and back, but for others it wasn’t as easy.

Digital teaching at TU Graz

The first thing I would really like to point out is that I am very proud to be a student at a university that managed to adapt to the new circumstances so quickly. It was crucial that the transition to a new teaching style is both smooth and fast, and I can honestly say that TU Graz did a great job on both organisation and implementation of digital teaching.
However, distance learning had its limits from time to time. Sometimes it was the weak internet connection that created the problems, sometimes the lack of human interaction, and sometimes simply the need for space adapted for learning or properly listening to a lecture.
I personally find the times we are living in quite fascinating, since humanity tends to come up with some of the greatest ideas when faced with hardship. Digitally held lectures are no exception, since we now learned first-hand that this style of teaching is something that can be implemented more often. That being said, I can’t wait for our amazing TU Graz campus to serve its purpose once again.

Everyday life during the COVID-19 pandemic

I could easily say that my everyday life revolves around online lectures, video calls with family and friends, and some simple things such as meal preparation, sport activities, and a great overuse of my Netflix account. It would be an understatement if I said that my everyday life is quite uninteresting.

Empty street in the city center of Graz.

Empty street in the city center of Graz, Austria, during COVID-19 lockdown

Lively street in the city center of Graz

Students strolling along Herrengasse in Graz, Austria, in „normal“ times.

One thing that is perhaps a burden for an international student like myself in the current situation, is the fact that the home is not so easily reachable any longer. Even when we have semester breaks, and the time and recourses to visit our families, there is always a question whether it is safe for us and the loved ones to see each other. This is however a question all students face, and therefore, this can be an extremely lonely and isolating period for all of us.

If you are interested to read more about what it is like to study abroad – at TU Graz in Austria – in the time of corona read Erasmus student Lisa Schmidt’s blog post “Talking about... what it's like to study abroad in the time of corona” or vistit the International Blog.

Social life during the COVID-19 pandemic

As an international student, I can say that the lack of interaction between me and my colleagues really did affect my study experience. Maintaining my social life was extremely challenging, however it was not impossible. As we all know, physical interaction was heavily limited this year, and we all had to find ways to communicate and help each other while maintaining social distance, and for that reason, most of my social life during the year 2020 happened on social media platforms.

The International Office – Welcome Center of TU Graz supports international degree seeking students before their arrival, during their stay and up to their departure and gives current COVID-19 information for Internationals at TU Graz.

We got this

In the situation that we have faced, TU Graz and organizations close to TU Graz have shown a lot of compassion and were very invested in helping students get through this. We are always being well informed and updated by the International Office and university staff. The Austrian Students’ Union at TU Graz (HTU Graz) also sends regular emails to all students, offering (among many things) free personal counselling appointments, which is something very valuable in times like these.
We are living in times full of uncertainty, and some days can really be long and challenging. However, it is very important that we stay connected, keep our heads up and keep on going. We got this!

Jovana Vujačić is part of the TU Graz International Student Ambassador team and enjoys helping and informing other prospective students. If you have any questions regarding studying and living in Graz, please do not hesitate to ask. If you want to read more Student Ambassador Stories about working as a student, finding your first accommodation, networking, leisure activities and more visit the Student Ambassador Stories website.

Contact

Jovana VUJAČIĆ
Student at TU Graz
Field of study: Architecture, bachelor’s degree programme
jovana.vnoSpam@ambassador.tugraz.at