The Maurice Thorez Institute of Foreign Languages
Moscow State Linguistic University

Exchange Students: What COVID-19 Changed - 2

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.
Yana Arhipova, French Language Faculty, currently in Lumière University Lyon Université Lumière Lyon 2.

Our classes are organized as follows: speaking practice classes are held in video format and we send our writing assignments (like artistic translation and the others) via e-mail and then our teachers upload video podcasts to Moodle, in which they analyze our mistakes and suggest other translation variants. We’ve already had our first tests on some subjects: the presentations were to be recorded, and writing assignments were to be sent via e-mail. From the middle of April we are having our interim tests and at the start of May our final tests are coming. The administration has reported that they are working out the methods to carry out our final tests.

All the libraries and canteens are closed. We can get psychological help if necessary. The university’s web page says that antiseptics and other essential commodities are available. Disinfection of the residential quarters is carried out regularly. We’ve been asked to limit our companies to groups of four people.

Daria Arhipova, German Language Faculty, currently in Germany, University of Bayreuth. Daria would like to come back home, but that is not so easy now.
I try to do my best and complete every assignment that I receive via e-mail. Movement in Bayreuth is limited now; however, I still can go out for essential commodities, but the rest of the time I spend alone.

I entered the list for return flights and right now I’m waiting for the information from the embassy, the Federal Air Transport Agency and Aeroflot.

Comments on the study course in Busan University of Foreign Studies (South Korea) by Buligina Olesya, Maslova Alexandra, Krapivina Alexandra.

When for the last two and a half years you’ve studied a foreign language and dreamt about going to Korea, ready to finally take a look at the country and talk to its people in their native language you want nothing to stand in your way to the dream. But unfortunately, things don’t always go as we planned, and we have to put up with the circumstances beyond our power. However, it’s wrong and to some extent dishonest to complain about some sudden virus, which has engulfed the whole world, because our situation is not the worst.

Korea is one of the few countries which has been able to reduce the speed of the virus spreading, though some restrictions haven’t been lifted yet. Starting with March up to now all the education facilities in the country have gone remote and our university is not an exception.
Having arrived in Busan we had to spend two weeks under quarantine, without leaving our rooms. It wasn’t easy, but we did it. In the middle of March the quarantine ended and we got to our studies, which, however, didn’t meet our expectations.

The studies here are organized via video conferences using a digital platform available for PC and smartphones. Every week the teachers send their recorded lectures and assignments. It’s been announced that this type of education will continue until May 11, after that, the University is going to return to the normal regime. But the final date of remote classes has already been postponed several times, and many universities have officially decided to take all the classes to online till the end of the term. Despite the fact that Busan University of Foreign Studies hasn’t yet announced anything like that, we can only hope that we’ll get to actually go to the university.

To our regret, due to coronavirus spread and the social distancing regime we can’t practice the language as students usually do. Our speaking exercises are limited to rare ZOOM classes and everyday chitchat in the shops. Contacting with foreigners is considered dangerous in Korea now, so many people avoid us.

Even TANDEM program, which helps students form the Russian department and students who study Korean to communicate and practice language live has been moved to ZOOM video conferences.
Yes, we can move freely around the city, but instead of live conversations we are shackled to our laptops and are constantly searching for Wi-Fi spots with fast internet connection. (Even in this aspect Korea, a country of cutting-edge technologies, hasn’t met our expectations either. Our dorm Wi-Fi is slow and is not functioning during the online classes).

The virus hasn’t been beaten yet, here and there new sick people appear, but the Koreans say that the authorities have everything under control. Seoul National University has decided that this term all the classes will be online. We are afraid to hear the same news. Because when the classes begin, Korean students will come here from other cities and no one knows what consequences it might bring. The last thing we want is a new virus outbreak. This is why the majority of the Korean students have returned to their homes and only the foreign students are staying in the dorm now. The dorm and the rest of the buildings aren’t fully functioning. Officially the university is closed, so the campus looks like a ghost town.

Another trouble is that due to the precautions introduced by the university, in order to prevent the spread of the virus, all the campus canteens have been closed too. That means that we have to buy everything ourselves, which noticeably hits our wallets.

Yes, we are not the only ones who suffer because of the bothersome virus. The whole world has been taken hostage. The only thing we hope for is that we’ll be able to see the live city and its happy people in the streets who are not obsessed with washing their hands or having a spare mask in their pocket.

Alexander Dvoryanchikov, Andrey Borovinskiy, Maxim Ugnenko are still at Ostrava University, the Czech Republic.

Probably, the lockdown in the Czech Republic may be considered a model one. It was promptly introduced about a month after we arrived here around March 10-11. Everything was closed in the country; the city streets were almost completely empty for a month. Only pharmacies and grocery stores were open, wearing masks and keeping distance between customers was obligatory.
Despite the fact that we could no longer enter the university building, everyone quickly adapted to the new conditions. All classes were transferred to the online format through a local analogue of Zoom, which was pretty convenient. As for the term exams, we could sit them either online or one-on-one with the teacher in the university building which was opened for those who was taking exams.
Currently, the quarantine is almost over in the country. According to the plan of the Czech government, the quarantine measures are gradually being lifted from the end of April, all city facilities are already open for visitors. On May 25, restaurants and cafes opened the doors for guests, but people still wear masks.

The only problem is that we were to have left here about a month ago, but so far there are no flights to Moscow. Now there are three of us here, another student returned to Russia in March.

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