The Maurice Thorez Institute of Foreign Languages
Moscow State Linguistic University

Exchange Students: What COVID-19 Changed - 1

MSLU exchange students share their experience of life and studies in European countries during the coronavirus pandemic, as many students chose to continue their internship programs.
Three students of the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting are undergoing a two-diploma program at the University of Granada (Spain).

Here is what Anastasia Sizikova says:
An official decree has been issued in Spain that throughout the academic year 19/20, students will not return to off-line studies but will study remotely. The University of Granada is basically well-prepared for e-learning. It has its own Internet platform, widely used by professors and students of the university: teachers post assignments, lectures, and presentations, and students attach their papers for the professors to mark.

In addition, the university has a special mailbox for intra communication – professor/ student, administration/ student, etc.

So, there are no major changes, though professors upload more educational content on the platform, some of them hold Zoom video conferences, some record video lectures, and some e-mail content.
For example, the other day we did a translation quiz. We downloaded a special application for screen recording, and our department prepared a special paper for us to work with and explained the rules. At the appointed time we turned on the screen recording and the microphone, translated the text, and at the end of the allotted time uploaded the paper with the translation and screen recording to the platform.

Yulia Pshenichnova, Faculty of English, now undergoing an internship in the University of Turin:
From March 3, all courses have been moved to online. We do it in Moodle platform, where all the lectures, exercises and other materials are uploaded to. Also, I sometimes get invitations to lectures on various topics and I can join them if I want to.

From the very beginning the university has cancelled all kinds of public events and closed public places like libraries and canteens. We get free food so we don’t have to go out for groceries.
In addition, my dormitory organizes online sport activities and different quizzes.

Sofia Belyaeva, Faculty of English, Scuola Superiore Universitaria per Mediatori Linguistici CIELS (SSML CIELS):
The university has taken all the necessary measures, issued by the local authorities. Everything has been closed since the very first day of the quarantine. In February only the teachers and the administration went to the university. In March it was closed fully. The remote studying process is organized the same way as it is in MSLU: our teachers give classes in Zoom and send us our tasks in Moodle. All university activities are suspended for now.

3) We continue to post our students’ letters. This time from Northern Europe. Today we have a letter from Anna Pronina, our 4th year student of the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting.

Right now I’m undergoing an internship in Tromsø, Norway. We have our classes online, but without video conferences. We receive all the materials and send our home tasks via e-mail. They have holidays here from April 6 to 19, so I’m joining my MSLU classes.

I live in the dormitory as before. Everything is the same, but every day they sanitize all the surfaces and door handles. There are no changes in our nutrition too, all the grocery stores are still open.
The citizens and students take safety measures very seriously. Everyone keeps the distance. Fortunately, we are allowed to go for walks, train outside and ski. Recently we’ve been informed that at Easter we can invite our friends, provided we are careful. Since the celebration is coming, a lot of shops, which were closed for the last three weeks, have opened today. 

All in all, everything is organized pretty well. You don’t feel down. Our teachers are enthusiastic and do their best. You can always write to the university and solve any problem and also consult the psychologist on the phone. The students have organized a special help team for those who are under the quarantine due to their recent return from other countries. We are free to go anywhere here.
Maria Kozlova and Elizaveta Sidorova, Faculty of Translation and Interpreting, now in Finland, the University of Tampere. They have decided to come back to Moscow.

All the university classes are held according to the schedule in Zoom. All the places of common use but the laundry and the kitchen have been closed. There is no quarantine in Finland, only self-isolation in Tampere, but we have decided to stay indoors and only go out when necessary, like going for groceries.

Semyon Skotnikov, Institute of International Relations and Social and Political Sciences, now at the University of Eastern Finland:
The classes are remote. Some lectures are held live, some are uploaded to Moodle and are available at any time. We carry out the tasks in Moodle as before.

The university only recommends to spend as little time outside as possible, there are no specific rules. There is no forced quarantine and no police patrolling the streets issuing fines for walking outside. I know that in the chemist’s they only let five people in at once. There is a shop near my house, and I go there twice a week to buy my groceries. In the shop they take some measures to sanitize the trolleys and other surfaces, though not so rigorous as in some other countries. No one hands out masks and gloves at the entrance.

Elena Aktasheva, Institute of International Relations and Social and Political Sciences, now at the University of Eastern Finland:
The classes are held remotely, the teachers send our assignments via Moodle and e-mail. According to the information we have, the campus will remain closed until May 13. Officially there are no cases of the infection in the city, so there is no quarantine too.

Natalia Politova, Faculty of the Humanities, currently in Japan, Ritsumeikan University.
We don’t have quarantine here, and the emergency state will be introduced in seven separate prefectures from April 8. However, people are advised to stay indoors as much as they can. The university classes will be held online until the beginning of May. We are going to receive additional information at the end of April. Some teachers give lessons online in Zoom and send us our home tasks and tests. Some of them send lectures and personal assignments. Everyone was given a personal mobile router so that we can access these classes.

Talking about food, the campus canteen is closed so everyone has to cook for themselves in the big kitchen in the dormitory. The campus itself is open and we can go there to study or use the computers, but the whole territory is marked in a special way so that we keep our distance. Antiseptics are everywhere and every student was given a thermometer.

In our spare time we are free to go wherever we want, however it is not advised to visit public places. Cafes and restaurants work as usual. The university gym is closed. 

Addressing the nation Prime minister says that it’s impossible to quarantine Japan like most of the European countries, so even in the prefectures with the state of emergency people will be able to move freely.

The main news is the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics.
Maria Oganezova, Ksenia Vasilyeva, Elizaveta Volobueva, the students of Faculty of Translation and Interpreting, now in University of Geneva, Switzerland University of Genève.
The university keeps in touch with us, sending letters with information on the progress of the spread of the virus and measures taken to combat it. All teachers and the department for foreign students are ready to be in touch case of problems and on any issue.

Classes are held remotely using Skype, Zoom, Moodle services and are almost no different from regular classes. Now the administration is working on the format of exams.
Swiss authorities strongly advised not to go out unnecessarily. We do so. We go only to the nearest supermarket every 3-4 days and from time to time to breathe a little air.

In the dormitory we have single rooms; kitchen, toilet, 2 bathrooms are shared by 8 people, and now by about 4 people, since many left for their home countries after the pandemic was announced. The rules of social distance are strictly observed: only 1 person is allowed to be in the elevator and in the kitchen.

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