Maisie Goulsbra, a BA English & Media graduate, is completing a free online summer school at the University of Cologne titled ‘Perspectives and Visions on Virtual Societies’. Maisie is writing a series of blog posts about her experience of completing a virtual global opportunity.
I have to admit, I’m entering this experience with my heart slightly broken. Sitting at the dinner table, in my student house, in London. If it were not for lockdown, I would be in Cologne. Two weeks before the summer school begins, we meet via Zoom for a tutorial on how to use Discord, the platform on which all interaction outside of lectures will take place. In the Cologne Summer School Discord channel, are private chat rooms that we, the students, can make use of to have discussions and ‘socialise’. There is a virtual ‘playground’, and even a digi bar which will act as a substitute for going to the pub together. I can’t help imagining the sweetness of German wheat beer on my tongue as the digi bar sits and awaits me.
Sam Sweeting, a BA Anthropology and Visual Practice student, studied abroad through the Erasmus+ programme at Freie Universität Berlin during the lockdown period of the Covid-19 pandemic.
My exchange experience took place in Berlin over the lockdown of Covid-19. I had a very different exchange experience to the one I was imagining, but by the end it felt normal. People are quick to adapt. It was almost the case that I didn’t complete the exchange, as it was cancelled when lockdown began in the UK. By chance, I had travelled to Berlin for work before Goldsmiths ended its face to face teaching. Everything happened quickly and European countries rapidly closed their borders, Germany being ahead of the UK in that decision. I found myself living under the German government’s advice to stay home and self isolate. I decided, given the fact that I was safe and staying with friends in Berlin, and that my family is in Australia and I wasn’t going to be able to go back, that it was right for me to stay in Berlin. Thanks to the Erasmus team at Goldsmiths consideration of personal circumstances, I was able to carry on with the exchange and receive my Erasmus funding as planned.
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