Social Distancing changes the lives of many, also those of our students. Five of them describe in an interview how they experience the current situation, how student life in Vallendar and Dusseldorf has changed and what opportunities they see in social distancing and for the summer months.
From one moment to the next, her plans have changed. As one student, who will be graduating this summer, reports, she initially intended to take a gap year. She wanted to gain further insights into different companies to start her master’s degree with even more practical experience. However, this is no longer possible, she says, and there will probably be neither a graduation photo nor a WHU ball in the traditional sense. Instead, the twenty-two-year-old will now complete her internship abroad in Manchester via webcam from her German living room. Right now, she says, it is above all important not to give up: “It is a situation that we all have to get through together.”
Together. In times of a pandemic, this is probably more difficult than in any other crisis. Students cannot simply meet and do something together. The study rooms are closed for collective learning and lectures take place online. Internships are conducted remotely or are cancelled completely. The maxim is to maintain distance. So how to get through the crisis together despite the social distance? And how to spend the summer months if the internship suddenly takes place at home? To keep student life going, another student states that she has now shifted many activities to digital media. Now, one can watch a movie with the webcam on and drink a glass of wine while videochatting with their friends. Even if the student life can be continued in this way, it is necessary to devote greater efforts to social interaction, as appointments have to be made for every little thing. The usual ease and spontaneity of simply meeting someone on the street or campus does not exist this summer.
But despite, or perhaps because of the changes which social distancing has led to, the students also report about various opportunities which arise for them: One student of the first bachelor's semester, for example, describes how he now spends significantly more time with his family again and takes a home vacation. Another student is planning to do more sports throughout the summer. As one master student describes, the crisis gives him time to reflect: "We can rethink the way we live our lives." Also, one could use the summer months to think about what to take away from this crisis and how to emerge even stronger. Among other things, the twenty-five-year-old therefore decided to learn Chinese and the programming language Python alongside his online internship.
Even if everything is different right now, plans have to be adjusted and new solutions constantly developed, student life goes on. Students have developed creative ways to deal with the situation and are optimistic about the summer. For this reason, all five students who have been interviewed agree that if we act together, we can come out of this time much stronger. We will once again have learned how much can be achieved digitally, that we can cope with difficult and surprising circumstances, and in line with the WHU spirit, how important it is to stick together.