Studying remotely (1): ‘In the end I did get to see the snow’

18 Feb 2021

They exist: students who study on Nijmegen but have never seen the campus in real life. From their house on the other side of the world they follow lectures at Radboud University. In a short series, Vox asks three international students about their remote student life. Today Pierce Manlangit from the Philippines. ‘Sometimes I would just turn off my camera and start preparing for bed while watching the lecture.’

Pierce Manlangit (23) had imagined the start of his microbiology master’s program in Nijmegen differently. He would have stepped on a plane, straight into a new adventure. But his trip was postponed. All lectures were taking place online, so why would he go to Nijmegen then? He decided to stay in the Philippines.

Time difference

‘It was actually quite convenient. It was cheaper for me to stay home and this way I was able to stay with my family’, he says. ‘At the same time it allowed me to get used to the Dutch education system and make friends online.’ It offered him a safe start to his international adventure: ‘To be honest, I’m quite happy I was able to start my master’s from home.’

Studying remotely from the Philippines at times was also challenging. ‘There’s the time difference’, Pierce explains. In his hometown of Butuan it’s seven hours later than in the Netherlands. When people in Nijmegen were having lunch, Pierce was having dinner. ‘That was actually quite convenient, at least we were able to take a break at the same time’, he says. Also a benefit of the time difference: for him deadlines weren’t at 11.59 pm, but 7:00 am. ‘It felt like having a few hours extra.’

Pierce in the Dutch snow. Own photo

A less convenient aspect was the fact that the latest lectures ended around midnight. ‘Sometimes I would just turn off my camera and start preparing for bed while watching the lecture.’ To stay concentrated at that time of the day wasn’t easy either. ‘Normally I go to bed at around 10 pm. In the morning I still had to get up early to help my parents out in the house and the garden.’

On a plane

Practical classes take up an important part of microbiology, but due to the corona crisis even those classes are now available online. Internships can also be done digitally. Still, Pierce decided not to go for the online option. ‘Two weeks ago I came to the Netherlands. Following one semester from home was fine, but after that it was time to get on a plane and meet my fellow students in real life.’

A Dutch friend that he met during one of his first online courses picked him up from the airport and helped out getting his groceries while he was in quarantine. Just before the big snowfall Pierce was allowed to go outside. ‘I’ve even cycled through the snow’, he laughs. He has only seen the campus from the window of his room at Hoogeveldt, and online of course, during the virtual lab tour.

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