Studying remotely (2): ‘My lectures started at 3 am’

22 Feb 2021

They exist: students who study in Nijmegen yet have never seen the campus in real life. They follow lectures at Radboud University from their house on the other side of the world. In a short series, Vox asks three international students about their remote student life. Today Martina González from Chile. ‘Normally I would have to travel 1,5 hours back and forth every day to get to university. I would never have had time for those extra classes.’

Martina González (19) lives on the outskirts of Santiago, the capital of Chile. There she is enrolled in the first year of her Engineering bachelor’s at the Universidad del Desarrollo. She decided to join a virtual exchange program of Radboud University, following a sustainability and economy course in Nijmegen from the other side of the ocean.

‘The lectures started around 9 am in the Netherlands,

that is 3 am here’

Martina (on the right) with her mother. Own photo

‘I’m just a first-year student’, Martina says. ‘My study coordinator wasn’t sure if it would be a good idea for me to follow other courses next to the ones in Chile.’ She decided to go for just one course. ‘The lectures started around 9 am in the Netherlands, that is 3 am here.’ To give herself enough time to wake up, she got up an hour in advance. After a lecture of 1,5 hours, she would get back to bed. ‘At 8.30 am my classes in Chile started, so I could definitely use that short nap in between.’

Tough

‘At times it was tough’, Martina says. She was so busy with her own studies that she wasn’t able to watch the lectures at a later time. ‘I wouldn’t have done that anyway as I would miss out on the interaction with teachers and fellow students.’ The high workload and lack of sleep were worth it, she says. ‘It was a good experience. It showed me that I was able to follow a course completely in English. I also got to meet a lot of Dutch and international students.’

Martina’s house in Chile. Own photo

The contact she had with students in the Netherlands wasn’t much different from how she communicated with friends at home. ‘I only see my friends on a screen anyway’, Martina says. She lives in a house with her parents, little brother and grandparents. ‘I don’t want to put my family at risk.’ In Chile the virus is anything but under control. Therefore she hasn’t been able to physically attend any lecture yet since starting her studies.

Pandemic

Thanks to the pandemic Martina was able to join the virtual exchange program. ‘Normally I would have to travel 1,5 hours back and forth every day to the university. I would never have had time for those extra classes.’ Besides, the program would not even have existed if it wasn’t for the pandemic. The crisis has had other positive sides for Martina as well. ‘I see my parents much more now, it will take some getting used to when I have to miss them again.’

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