Greetings from Germany

"A letter from International Students to Commerce International"

The pandemic has hindered the plans of many students this year to continue their studies overseas. In this blog series ‘A letter to Commerce International’ we reached out to a range of students impacted by travel restrictions to gain insight into their experiences studying remotely. 
 These are their responses.
 

Hello there!

I’m Gabriella, an Indonesian student in Germany. I came to Germany in 2019, so it’s my third year here. After a year of college, I enrolled at Reutlingen University, and I’m studying International Fashion Retail. 

My university life started in March 2020. It was the moment when multiple cases related to the Italian outbreak were detected in Germany. In response, the government ordered all universities to postpone the semester for about a month. 

As I’ve been studying online since the first day of university, I still haven’t had the chance to experience what it’s like to be a student at a university/normal university life. But compared to physical learning in high school or college, I have mixed feelings towards online lectures. At first, it was fun for me, but now it’s kind of tiring, and it’s getting harder for me to focus on the lectures. What I like about online learning is that I don’t have to wake up early. I can record the lectures, and even some professors provide the recording, so if I missed anything, I can listen to it again and catch up.

On the other hand, I’ve been busier, which makes me procrastinate to do my work at the last minute. Also, there are more assignments, and many professors implement self-study or flipped classroom systems. Even during our class breaks, some of them required us to read long articles and have group discussions :’) Nevertheless, I couldn’t imagine myself being in the physical classroom. And despite the situation, we still have to do our exams on campus. That’s also the only opportunity to meet my classmates and professors directly. 

Recently, I’ve been in touch with staff from the international office in my uni, talking about my struggles as an international student and meeting new people and getting advice regarding my studies. Now I’m working with them to organize a trip mainly for international students after our exams next month, and they’ve also helped me build my network. I’m still trying to get used to it because being socially active is kinda new for me.

TikTok is currently trending in Germany, probably because of the ongoing lockdowns since last year. I think Germans use TikTok the most compared to other social media. I know that many Germans still don’t have Instagram or have it but didn’t post anything. But looking at how Germans commented on every video that shows on my account amazed me how big TikTok has been made in Germany.

After 6 months of lockdown, shops in Germany are finally allowed to reopen, but customers need to book an appointment and provide a negative covid test result. They provide many tents around the shopping area to do a rapid test. Everyone in Germany also has the right to do one test per week, and it’s free of charge.

I pay more attention to my mental health by increasing social interactions and learning meditation, even if it’s only 30 seconds-2 minutes. I try to call my family more often, especially my sisters. I also participated in several self-development webinars. Driven by my love of Korean dramas, Kpop and Korean variety shows, I began to learn Korean hihi. I’m also preparing myself for an exchange semester in South Korea next semester.

That’s what I got to say as an Indonesian currently studying in Germany. Virtual learning may not be for everyone, but I learned that keeping your mental health sanity is as important as keeping your grades up. I hope my experience can give insight into how it’s like to study abroad as an international student during this unprecedented time. Until then, stay safe and healthy! 

From Germany with love, 

Gabriella

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