Najomi Brezina | December 2020
This post is part of a series written by bachelors and masters students reflecting on their experiences studying at the School of Global Studies at the University of Gothenburg.
I remember how exciting it was when I got accepted into the development studies courses, but when the spread of COVID-19 increased, I knew that my studies would be different this first year, which it has for sure in many ways. I remember our first zoom lecture and how it honestly was depressing to see a large number of blank screens and just our professor visible. The lack of social interaction with other students was challenging in the beginning. An important part of the beginning of your first year of university studies is to socialize with other students and make new friends, which was impossible when we were supposed to avoid contact in real life. Luckily, we had some corona-friendly activities in the beginning, and I made some connections through those activities with other students from my course, which have been helpful when you’re a new student. Due to this, my study days have been different, and the importance of routines and motivation has been key. The question – which I even had before the studies started – is how do you keep the motivation?
Motivation is essential during remote studies since there is a lack of interaction with other students and the professors, but how do you keep your motivation and develop it? Motivation has been challenging, even if the studies have been interesting, but to work on improving your motivation makes the studies more manageable and more fun. What can you do? Here are some tips:
Make a schedule for your studies (if you do, you’ll have a balance between when you’re studying and not, but don’t be too ambitious and set reasonable goals).
Get some sleep (we all have been there when the bedtime has been too late, but to make it as a habit in remote studies is not successful in the long run).
Take breaks during your study day (it’s good to leave the table and maybe do some stretching especially for your back, neck, and shoulders since the writing position makes your body stiff).
Study together with your colleagues. (Notice that study together in these times maybe will be difficult but the technology has no limit and Zoom is great to use).
Be active during your lectures. What does that mean? Well, if you’re a person who is quiet during the whole lecture, try to challenge yourself to interact more during the lecture. Ask questions when you have not understood something you have read in the literature related to the lectures or something the professor mentions during the lecture. To ask a question is a great way to learn and build your understanding. Even if you’re shy, remote studies make it easier when you can send a private message to the professor during the lecture.
Make study goals and when you have achieved them, give yourself treats (muffins or, in these times, maybe some Saffron Buns are great).
Ask for help from your colleagues, when you’re feeling lost in your studies. Everything makes it easier if you’re solving a problem together.
Try to take time off work during the weekends. I’ve heard a lot of students who sometimes or always studies on weekends, but I think it’s not a healthy choice. Your studies are supposed to be a 40 hours work week and, if you stick by that, weekends will be the time when you can relax.
Use the university services that will be beneficial for your studies. Like the services Unit for Academic Language (ASK) provides, participate in online seminars/webinars produced by GU or find more student tips on GU’s website.
If you join Göta Studentkår, they offer different online events for students, which is a great way to interact with other students and make the best of your spare time.
With those motivation tips, I want to finish my post by cheering all the wonderful professors and students with an inspiring line by the lovely character Dory in the movie Finding Nemo:
"Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…" With that line, let us keep on swimming and make the best of these special times.
Najomi Brezina is a first-year BA student in development studies at the University of Gothenburg's School of Global Studies. She also has a degree as a Technician for Theatre and Events and has worked at the Opera of Gothenburg. Her dream is to work in a Human Right Organization or in the UN with Development projects.