Studying in a pandemic

The pandemic brought a lot of challenges for everyone in the world and IHS, its staff and students were no exception. This crisis required IHS to change its way of teaching, and to come up with safe alternatives, like hybrid learning. After a very trying year, we asked our students how they experienced the first semester with the new way of studying. Anne-Fleur, Sizear and Alexandra shared their thoughts about student life in corona times.
See what they had to say about it below!

Anne-Fleur, Mauritius

"I really appreciate IHS doing the hybrid learning, because it is helping a lot of students who are feeling lonely, to come to campus and meet other people."

Anne-Fleur arrived in the Netherlands right before the new lockdown was imposed in October, which was frustrating. However, the possibility to be on campus was really nice and it made her feel part of IHS more. 

How does hybrid learning work? 

“The staff make groups of 25 students for face-to-face learning. You have to sign up quite fast if you want to be there because everyone wants to be on campus. We also have the option of studying online, but every time I have the opportunity to be on campus, I try to be there. They’re also really careful with the masks and everything, and not a lot of people are allowed in class, so I feel safe.” 

What about social life? 

“Because of the lockdown, there are not many activities to do, so it’s actually easier to go forward and meet people. Everyone has been taking the first step to meeting people and making friends. We tried to organise things at our place for example or going for a walk in the park. It has been positive so far, but I cannot speak for everyone.” 

Times are challenging, but Anne-Fleur is trying to make the best out of it, by attending as much face-to-face classes as possible and by socializing with peers. Her favourite places in Rotterdam are the Kralingse Lake and the Blaak area. Overall, she really likes the city and the unique architecture.  

Sizear, Bangladesh

"I don't enjoy this system because I like physical interaction, but I am trying to cope with it."

Before his study in the Netherlands, Sizear worked in an international NGO called Water Aid Bangladesh and at IHS, he is following the Strategic Urban Planning and Policy master track with a World Bank scholarship. Sizear recognizes that these are unprecedented times and along with everything changing in the world, his master programme is no exception. Because the Covid-19 pandemic is not under control in the Netherlands, universities need to reduce risks by adopting new ways of teaching. At IHS, education takes place in a hybrid format.  

How do you feel about hybrid learning? 

“Well, frankly speaking, I don’t enjoy this system, because I like physical interaction. Here we have 110 students from 46 countries, but we can rarely meet as a group. I am not only looking to learn from academicians, but also from my fellow colleagues. So I don’t like it, but I am trying to cope with it.” 

“Digitalisation is only a matter of time”

“Due to everything being online, we are more exposed to new IT tools and systems and we gain expertise in working with them so that is a positive thing. We also have a lot of groupwork, in which we try to learn from each other on different platforms, so that is a new experience. Digitalisation is only a matter of time and we should be a part of this system. Even in my home country, Bangladesh, we did not have a great IT system but because of the pandemic it has developed a lot.”

Alexandra, Chile

"I really enjoy it here and, although due to Corona virus we are not always able to come to class, we still have face to face classes as much as possible, of course with all the security measures."

Alexandra studied Business Administration for her bachelor’s and later worked as a consultant in sustainability and strategic projects, which later led her to a job in a local government in Chile where she worked on strategic planning. She came to IHS to improve her skills and knowledge on sustainability and urban planning.  

How do you feel about hybrid learning?  

“I really enjoy it here and, although due to Corona virus we are not always able to come to class, we still have face to face classes as much as possible, of course with all the security measures. That is really good because I have met people who are doing other masters and they're not having face-to-face classes, only online. I think hybrid learning is an advantage of our master, it is very useful and helps learning! I hope to put all this knowledge into practice after this programme.” 

What about social life? 

“Group works, birthday parties, but only with a few people – that helps a lot with socialising. I think that's also an advantage – that I live close to the campus.” 

Despite the global pandemic, Alexandra still enjoys her studies and the city of Rotterdam. She really enjoys local architecture and so far, her favourite place is the Kralingen area.

More information

Note: These interviews have taken place in the beginning of December 2020. Since the 16th of December 2020, the Netherlands is facing a second strict lockdown and schools have closed until at least the 9th of February. All education takes place online for the time being.