StayhomeUTV Journals #2: Giovanni

StayhomeUTV Journals #2: Giovanni

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.

About Giovanni

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.

StayhomeUTV Journals #1: Cornelius

StayhomeUTV Journals #1: Cornelius

Hello reader!
as Italy was quite present in the news around the world concerning the intensity of the Corona-Virus situation, this idea of student journals came into being, where students could report their experience with the present situation and the organization of the university.

This allows outside students, that are planning to come to Italy for studying or are thinking about applying for a university here, to get a better insight into the situation.

Spoiler-Alert: It is definitely not as bad as it might seem in the media. Rather the opposite. It is impressive how well the transition to Online lectures and the adaptation to the new system worked.

From Germany to Italy

My spring break just finished, when the first cases of Covid-19 appeared in Italy and made the first headlines. At that time, I was in Germany, and hesitated a whether I should return to Italy or not.

To be honest, I never imagined the Lockdown that was implemented later, I mean, who could have? Therefore, I decided to go back to Rome and start the new semester as usual.

In the first week of March we had three normal days of lectures at university, when it became clear that all universities in Italy must suspend lecturing after Wednesday, 04 March 2020.

Luckily, my class of the Global Governance course did not have any planned lectures for the rest of the week that would have had to be cancelled otherwise. Unfortunately, some interesting planned Extra activities had to be cancelled.

But that was understandable, due to the increasing urgency of the situation. On Thursday, the first plans for online lectures circulated, with the hope of being able to be implemented by next week Monday. And so, it happened.

From “normal” classroom lectures to online lectures

During the 4 days of organization, all students were informed about the online classroom format (ZOOM in our case), the usage and the guidelines for the usage.

Despite the expectations of many mistakes and technological problems, I cannot recall major problems with the online lecturing from the start (except some minor adaptations that we all had to get used to of course).

I am still a little surprised by the unexpected but smooth transition from “normal” classroom lectures to online lectures.

The first weeks were very exciting, as we were confronted with a whole new modality and weighed off the advantages and disadvantages of the new situation.

In the following weeks the process became more “natural” and all parties proved to be open for adjustments to make the lecturing more comfortable for everyone, as online lectures are more “intense” compared to normal lectures.

Online Exams!

The next question that came up, was that of exams. It took quite some time for the professors to evaluate the several options for exams – but even these worked quite well eventually.

In April, we conducted two multiple choice exams, one open book exam and one oral exam, all online – and I don’t have anything to complain about their execution.

Since most of the communication with the secretariat and the management of the course worked via email already before the crisis, also this continued to function flawless.

Looking forward to meeting each other

We could always count on contacting our Secretariat and professors for any questions and organizational purposes and received helpful answers. The only negative aspect is: we don’t get to meet each other in person, which is a crucial aspect of a university for me.

But regarding the situation, this is necessary of course, and we are looking forward to meeting each other, when it is possible again, hopefully in the near future!

Together we will overcome this

To conclude, I hope to have clarified some of your doubts on the situation and could give you some insights into our university life. I don’t think there are major reasons to not come to study in Italy because of the Covid-19 Virus.

So far, we have managed the situation in the university sovereignly, learned many new things and I am confident that together we will overcome this situation successfully.

Written by Cornelius Balle – Bachelor in Global Governance