During the past year of the pandemic, attempts have been made to improve students’ ailing wellbeing. And in the discussions and talks about various groups of students’ different struggles, international students’ wellbeing has been highlighted.
But why not ask the international students themselves how they are doing?
CBS WIRE has talked to three international first-year students and an exchange student, who has travelled all the way from South Korea, about their experiences of studying at CBS during the pandemic.
Lucy Schmolling, Germany – first-year bachelor student, International Business
Before coming to CBS, I did not actually expect to have any intro events whatsoever. So having an actual intro week with smaller group events was surprising.
Also, I had set my mind for a different experience. Yes, I could probably do everything from my home in Germany, but I wanted to be here and live here. Get the feeling of living abroad. And although my hometown is only a five-hour train ride from Copenhagen, I have never been at the point where I have thought about just going home and staying there.
Even if I did go home, the situation would not be much different. I would just be sitting in a different room doing online lecturesLucy Maleen Schmolling
When you are not on campus that much, you have to be pro-active. Message friends and ask if they want to grab a cup of coffee outside or something like that. That might be harder for someone who is introverted, so I am lucky in the sense that I am an open person.
I went back to Germany for Christmas, and it was tough coming back to Copenhagen in January. It was like a ghost city. So silent and intimidating and not at all what I was used to.
At the same time, I talked to my friends from the IB class, who told me they were mentally exhausted, both because of corona and the winter. It was too cold to do anything outside and you could not sit at a café.
But I feel like things improved when they announced the stores would open. That was a sign of hope.
Doyeon Lee, South Korea, exchange student – Double Degree in Linguistics and Business Administration
This is the last semester I’m able to go on exchange before I graduate from my home university. Originally, I wanted to go to the US, but due to the pandemic, they did not allow international students to enter the country. So I changed for Europe, and Denmark was top of my list, as it is among the happiest nations in the world, and CBS is a famous business school.
I have been here for two months now, and when I arrived, I could hardly believe I was on the European continent. I really wanted to go to museums, see the Opera House and churches, and explore all the national sights and monuments, but as I cannot do that, I have changed my mind. So now I’m focusing mainly on seeing the scenery here. I have visited Nyhavn, Strøget, seen the beach in Brøndby and explored Amager, went on winter bathing and have had an amazing road trip around Denmark. So far so good.
Before coming to CBS, I was taught online for about a year, so online teaching is not new to me. I sometimes go to the common room at my dorm to study, and I have online study groups too.
I have not regretted coming here. I knew it would be different, so I’m just getting the most out of itDoyeon Lee
I also see a group of Korean students who are on exchange as well. We catch up, eat Korean food and talk Korean. I feel like we are bonding more during the Covid situation.
Of course, I miss feeling free. I want to go to parties with my fellow students and get to know more people, but I feel scared because of the virus. I also want to study in a campus environment, where social interactions are more natural. When I cannot do that, I get demotivated about online teaching. I try to overcome it by running outdoors three or four times a week and living my life.
At one point, I was so demotivated, I just stayed in my room for two days. I thought to myself: “No this is not the way I want this to be”. I got out of the room and biked with no destination to see new things.
I have not regretted coming here. I knew it would be different, so I’m just getting the most out of it.
Besides my friends, I think I miss Korean food the most. And the food delivery system. We have so many more options in South Korea.
Felikss Abejevs, Latvia, first-year bachelor student, International Business
I did not know what to expect before coming here. I was just excited to meet new friends to hang out with, have the university experience one could ever dream about. But when the lockdown started, it kind of felt like my initial plans were falling apart. Integration got more complicated, you could say.
It was a bit on and off whether the school would go into a complete lockdown in the fall. In December, we were supposed to have an exam, and I had gone back home to Latvia. On a Friday night before the exams, I heard on the news that Denmark would go into lockdown starting from the coming Wednesday. That Wednesday I was supposed to have an exam.
I had scheduled a flight on Monday, but soon received an email that it was cancelled. I wrote an email to the study administration asking for an update on whether the exam was still to be held as a written sit-in.
In the end, I got an answer Wednesday morning after traveling 1,700 kilometers by car to Copenhagen that the exam had been cancelled. In my opinion, the uncertainty that Covid brought with it played a significant role on first-year students. I mean, it was just an unfortunate case that I had to go by car to Denmark, but I completely understand the school decisions and accept the fact that there is no one to blame. Actually, I had a decent Euro-trip.
It is tough when you cannot work and socialize, and students are experiencing the worst time of their livesFelikss Abejevs
After finishing the exams, I went back to Latvia and only just got back to Copenhagen. It was not the decision I would have wanted, but in my opinion the most rational one: This time, it was just way easier to plan, as CBS had announced that everything would be online till May.
It is tough when you cannot work and socialize, and students are experiencing the worst time of their lives, it seems. For me as an international student coming to Denmark, socializing is the most important thing, I guess it is just postponed for a year, at least. Sincerely, I hope that it will get better by the this summer already.
I really look forward to getting the whole campus and university experience. Actually having lectures, going out for breaks, eating lunch with friends, asking a professor a question after a lecture – and not through a screen wearing pajamas.
Maria Gabriel Zoladkowska, Poland, first-year bachelor’s student, International Business and Politics, and Vice President of CBS Students
When I began my studies, it was fairly hard. I was torn between knowing a lot about CBS, as I had already been there for a year but, as I had changed programs, not knowing anyone on my program.
I had a network of people already, but I had to make the same effort to get new friends from my program. And it is harder when coronavirus is here.
If you are not from Copenhagen or Denmark, it is harder. You come to a new city and you don’t know anyone. Students from Jutland might feel the same, but at least they can go home to their families – it is a bit trickier for me and other internationals.
Staying in one place is hard. Maybe it is not the toughest thing, about this pandemic, but it is definitely something that has been on my mind during these timesMaria Gabriel Zoladkowska
Especially around Christmas, many went home. Including myself. I needed a change of scenery and I needed to see other people. But if you leave the country, you have to self-quarantine when you get back and take tests. Danes do not have to do that after visiting their families. So it is not that easy. Moreover, if you leave Denmark, there is a risk that your own country will close down, and you cannot return to Denmark.
What I miss is seeing my family and friends in Poland and traveling. Staying in one place is hard. Maybe it is not the toughest thing, about this pandemic, but it is definitely something that has been on my mind during these times.
I just hope that at some point this semester we can meet up on campus. Not for lectures, but just to sit together and study. Get the feeling that there are more people than just you.