Beep… beep.. beep… beep… beep… beep. I opened my eyes and I felt like someone was pointing a flashlight at me. The sun is so bright today. A walk around Piazza Venezia sounds like a great idea. I love when the sun shines on the white and majestic Altare della Patria. “Great plan Gio!” I think to myself. But then it hits me. I finally remember. “What day is it today?” I mumble under my breath. It’s week six.. Oh no, it’s week seven. I lost count of the days when it was about week four.
I can’t believe it’s been so long since the last time I stepped on Tor Vergata’s Campus. I still remember that feeling: my classmates and I had just finished our first semester of university and we were headed into the second one. Hopes were running high and we were all hugging each other. It was like one of those moments you share with your teammates in the locker room: you just concluded the soccer season in first place and you are about to start the playoffs. Loads of adrenaline are flowing into our veins.
Pros and Cons
I better get up before class starts. I miss taking the bus number 20 in the morning. It was always so crowded that I had to wrestle my way out when it was time to get off. Thank God I don’t have to go through that again. I don’t even need to dress properly. A cup of coffee and my computer are all I need. I made up my mind: I will attend lectures from my comfy bed today. It sounds like a dream, I know. And yet, I still struggle to wrap my head around this new system.
In the meantime, the Professor is waiting for the last few students to enter the online room. Usually, once the number of participants reaches a hundred, he starts the lecture. However, this time, he stops and reads the comments that are overflowing the Zoom chat. “Good morning Professor!” “It’s great to see you!”, “Hope you had a nice weekend!” “How are you?” For a moment, I close my eyes and pretend to be in P3, the room where we usually have lectures. It feels real. It feels like nothing has changed.
Online Learning Experience
“Ciao guys!”- he shouts happily – “It’s wonderful to see you all here this morning!” As he reads through the messages, he starts naming one by one all the students present today. This will take a while, but I know why he’s doing it. He wants everyone to feel part of this moment, he wants to transform these passive online lectures in active learning experiences. He nailed it. It’s just a matter of seconds before everyone perks up in their comfy beds to the sound of their names and starts listening to what he’s about to say.
Shortly after, he shares his screen to show a brief presentation about today’s topic. Only now I realize how much our professors improved at using online teaching tools. If you’d told me a few weeks ago that they could hold an online lecture with the confidence of an IT guy, I would have laughed and called you a liar. I was proved wrong. Now, I’m fascinated by what they can do with the limited resources we have during this crisis.
Raise Your Hand!
What I enjoyed the most about my first semester in university were the wonderful debates triggered by students during class. It was so amazing to see all these people exchanging thoughts and actively participating in every discussion. When the lockdown started, I thought for a second that this part of our life was gone forever. I was proved wrong one more time.
There is a specific option on Zoom that allows you to raise your hand, unmute your microphone and ask questions or make a comment.Once we figured out how to use it, lectures became very engaging. Sometimes they break us out in smaller rooms so we can do group projects.
I close my eyes every once in a while and just listen to my classmates interacting and debating. It feels like I’m in class again. It feels like nothing has changed.
My name is Giovanni, I’m 19 and I’m a first year student at Tor Vergata. I was born and raised in northern Italy and I’ve always been interested in exploring different cultures and broadening my mind. Thanks to a scholarship, at the age of 17, I was able to leave my small town and spend a year as a high school student in California. After graduating, I decided to move to Rome and begin my academic career in a wonderful course called Global Governance. Here, I found myself in a multicultural environment. Since day one, I have been interacting with students from all over the world and it’s been life-changing.