Written by Amaraizu Genius
Someone asked me this question recently: “How is life as a student in Sweden during Covid-19?” I hadn’t really given a deeper thought on how our academic life has changed within a very short period of time. The truth remains that there’s nothing normal about the academic year and nothing there is to liken it to. But life is going on pretty fast and progressive despite all odds. Read how the ride has been from my recent observations.
Time saved, more work!
When my school, Södertörn University announced that classes all semester will hold online, I wasn’t happy and I bet no student would have been happy on such announcement. But of course, this is an effort towards saving ourselves from avoidable health challenges. Also, this announcement soon became a blessing in disguise. First, I didn’t live near the campus, and now with the announcement I didn’t have any reason to visit there, and by this I saved money and time. Since lectures were all online, the only possible reason to visit the campus would be the library, but thanks to the Swedish library network. The network has about 290 public library systems, about 4,000 school libraries, about 100 hospital libraries, one National Library, 38 university and university college libraries, and about 75 special and government agency libraries, 20 county/regional libraries, 3 lending centers and one repository library support the public library systemref.. I have access card to a public library, just close to my house, and with additional access to Södertörn University e-library, the problem of library never happened. My study time has progressed and increased significantly during this pandemic and online study structure. A typical day would have me start the day with reading through the literature for my upcoming course, spend about 3 hours on the actual lecture on zoom, and working all the other hours of the day on my assignments and other literatures. Aside meal times and exercise needs, I would have no reason to leave my room in an academic active day.
Academic days can be both exciting and boring during this time. Let’s say there’s this course that’s a bit demanding, and I have to dedicate every minute to researching, reading and writing. In one week, I would not leave my building. Yes, I’m locked to my room, working round the clock, everything I needed was just on my computer- lectures, learning materials, class meetings, group work… everything! I do my body exercise in my room, and I had already stocked my kitchen with everything I would need for food. Thanks to the technology of freezer and microwave, they are students’ lifesavers. Well, this can be boring. After one week of being locked in the room, your body will tell you that you’re tired and need some sort of excitement. And this is the time I would decide to step out to read in the library or step out over the weekend for grocery shopping, eating out and cooking the meal that will last for another one week.
Sweden is Pretty Normal
In Sweden, social distancing is a natural phenomenon. Lol. Here, people are culturally inclined to respect your private space, with or without Corona virus. This means that nobody would want to sit close to you in a bus or train, or walk so close to you even in a crowded space, before, during and after Covid-19 just to respect you and your space. So here, nothing really changed much in terms of social distancing- we distance naturally! However, the Swedish health authorities have reeled out certain guidelines to ensure that no one by any chance breeches the covid-19 protocols and this include the limiting of private and public gatherings and the likes and urging people to wear mask. But, it really seems that nothing is compulsory in Sweden, self-responsibility is the way to go!
Things We Miss
There’s no way online gathering and engagements will ever take over the place of physical connections, no matter how hard we try, at least in 2021. Students are missing having physical classes, and are looking forward to these moments again. We could discuss group assignments over a cup of coffee or burger meal and these are moments we build private connections and bounding with new friends and course mates. Right now, I’m unable to have all those fun that require large gathering, but I find time to have a regular fun by hiking through nature, taking long walks or cycling through the beautiful Stockholm city with one or two close friends, and of course, end the day with a glass of beer!
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