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By Sri Vishwanth Chowdhary
Hello friends, I am Sri Vishwanth Chowdary Vasireddy, pursuing MSc Intelligent Transport Systems and Logistics at Linköping University, Sweden (Campus Norrköping). Last year, I completed my B. Tech (CSE) from a college in Telangana, India. In this article, I will be briefing my experience of student life in Sweden during the COVID-19.
Until mid-march (Spring 2020), my university was having face-to-face interaction with all activities on campus. But all of a sudden higher authorities of the university have decided to take up distance education as per the measures prescribed by the public health agency to reduce the risk of COVID-19.
The most significant change in my entire program is that the lectures are “Online”. Our department has mostly used Microsoft teams to deal with this situation. As per scheduled time for lectures, our teachers taught their topics by sharing their slides through Teams. The biggest challenge we faced here is we didn’t have any physical interaction, so due to this, it was difficult for us in the beginning to follow these lectures.
But the bright side is that every lecture is recorded and later uploaded in teams, so if we have any queries, we can go through the video and get it clarified. Another advantage of these recorded lectures is if we miss an important topic due to some unavoidable circumstances, we can go through that topic later on and get familiarized with it, which is not possible in standard situations.
The capture of Teams app
For some courses we have laboratory works, so for that our university has provided us with VPN which directly connects to the empty computers in the university laboratories and it turns to be virtually present on campus for completing the lab task. On the funny side, sometimes this happens when attending online classes or laboratory classes (Terrible Situation!!!!!!!!!!!!).
Situations faced during distance mode
One of the biggest pluses is to have uninterrupted internet service at home (Download Speed: 233 Mbit/s, Upload Speed: 314 Mbit/s). As we know that Sweden is a cashless society using online payments frequently, and that made it very easy for Swedish universities to change to the remote mode. Also, internet usage in the country is quite high and even has free internet access across some places in Norröping. Even at the university, every student has access to the high-speed internet.
If any student is having trouble with studying at home, they have access to the university during the day times. So, most of the students did not find any problem with the transition to distance mode.
If anyone chooses Sweden as their study destination, then they should be prepared for working in groups for project works or lab-related tasks and this usually takes place in person at university. But due to the COVID-19, we need to do it online. At first, we faced several difficulties in having excellent communication between the members of our group. But we gradually overcame it by having regular meetings via Teams, Zoom and using OneDrive document or Google Drive document for reports.
In my master’s program, I have some written examinations to pass some of the courses. Usually, it takes place on campus in an examination hall (4 hours) where we are allowed to make an A4 sheet with essential formulas and other stuff written on it (cheat sheet), food (Apple, Banana, Snacks to keep us active), Coffee. As of mid-March, Linköping University has decided to choose distance mode, and even exams were to be taken on distance mode (Same 4-hour duration). It was an excellent opportunity for students to use all the available resources, including recorded lectures, internet material for the exam.
Although it sounds easy to write the examination with the help of all these stuff, the reality is we need to achieve some high points to pass the test, and even some questions were complicated to solve!!!!!!!!. But this was a fantastic experience of student life in Sweden. After completing the exam, we need to capture the exam papers using apps like cam scanner and need to upload the document in our university online portal (Lisam).
Usually, in some of the courses, we need to complete at least two or three individual assignments with a deadline of seven days. If we have any queries while solving the assignment, we can visit the respective faculty in their office opening hours to get it resolved. But in this situation, as of now, we are not allowed to have a physical meeting with our faculties. It seems to be difficult for some of our friends in the university because the response time for the emails of their professors was seemingly late and due to this, their grades were also affected. But this was not the case for everyone; for example, the faculties of some departments reduced the number of assignments from two to one to have a productive work output and to reduce stress on their students.
Finally, my daily life has not changed much due to this because I have utilized this situation to productively contribute to the experience of student life in Sweden, by writing some blogs about quarantine diaries and created my website with all of my works till date. I am very grateful to share these experiences with the readers.
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