by Lumi Beqiri, Alumni Scholarship Recipient and MA student in the Department of History
Having to start your studies at a new university abroad may be a challenge in itself. Things can get even more complicated when there is a pandemic. First of all, the pandemic affected many students, as they could not make it to campus and were trapped in different parts of the world. As for us who made it to Vienna, the first weeks at campus were really different from the expected.
Due to the pandemic restrictions and our own anxieties about it, we did not socialize at all. People would finish their classes on campus and go back to their places. No meetings, no acknowledging other cultures, no making new friends. Students could not get together and go for coffee after classes and discuss their opinions, as is usual in a non-pandemic situation. The lockdown came after a few weeks, and things became even lonelier.
From the very beginning CEU was very understanding and flexible in that it provided two options for classes: on campus and online. This was very helpful for students who could not make it to Vienna and those affected by covid-19. After that, as we all went online due to the lockdown in Austria, CEU has done its job just perfectly.
First of all, many professors have been so understanding about the situation we are in, and they have postponed deadlines for assignments or have reduced the reading requirements. CEU keeps informing all of its members about the pandemic situation in Vienna, and different university bodies keep helping students who are affected by the virus. Because we all must do online learning now, CEU was so generous that it even launched an emergency fund for students who are in need of new technological devices in order to successfully follow their online learning.
As all CEU events moved online, there were new and different ways of virtually socializing and meeting new people from CEU. This is especially the case with volunteering for different projects. Although virtual, many of these projects can be fun, as people get to know other people, work with other people and they get to feel useful as they do something beneficial for the community. All in all, these kind of events can make us feel less lonely and more active during harsh times such as this pandemic.
Overall, it seems that CEU has responded to the pandemic very successfully for its community. Without the mentioned assistance by CEU during the lockdown, things would have been much more unpleasant.