My coursework normally consists of wiring electronics or writing a computer program. It’s solving hundreds of physics problems or learning how to apply a new math theory. Coming to NYU Prague, I was met with a new type of work. Since I was taking my humanity courses, I was now asked to write a journal entry or read a dense literary book. I was asked to take pictures or tour the Prague castle and know its history. The shift in coursework was a major thing for me to adjust to. It was doing things that I wasn’t used to, and of course, it made me uncomfortable at times. After a few weeks, I had settled into this new way of school. I saw myself as cultured and insightful. I was used to the readings and the analysis, ready to start a discussion of Kafka and his Context at any point in time. I was used to my new city and knew how to walk to my dorm without Maps, finally.
However, when classes were shifted virtually due to the pandemic this uneasiness crept back in. I was once again strangled by foreignness. I now had to read slide shows instead of walking through the beautiful courtyards of the castle or message people over the internet instead of conducting in-person interviews for my papers.
It’s change, that’s what it is. Although it seems uncomfortable, I have taken it on as anything else that has caught me by surprise – a new environment or different coursework. I learn and adapt. Of course, virtual classes aren’t an ideal situation (I mean, who wouldn’t want to be in Prague exploring the city right now?) but it’s one that must be done and the best way to get through it is together. With the coordination of all parties involved, this transition from in-person to virtual classes has been as harmonious as humanly possible given the circumstances.
Online classes have shown me the strength in the staff and teachers at NYU Prague, how flexible they can be in helping us, the students, ease into the change and still provide education with a sympathetic stance. They have gone from learning how to convert tours of Prague online to how to even turn on a computer at times. It’s something we have gone through together. Of course, there have been bumps where your internet went down and the professor forgot to record the lecture or they went through half the class with a muted mic and you missed everything they said, but it’s a learning process.
Personally, my experience with online learning has been an eye-opener on my self-motivation, durability, and the understanding of my limits. It is oblivious to believe that during these times, one’s own life and surroundings are independent of school and coursework. During these weeks, I have had many distant family deaths and close relatives hospitalized in critical conditions. I’ve had to participate in lectures with a poor internet connection, screaming siblings in the back, or going through grief. I have had to write essays while sitting in a tornado shelter, listening to the blaring sirens and harsh winds hitting the walls. I believe this has been the hardest thing switching into online classes. I’ve always tried to separate my life and my school but now more than ever,
Online learning has been tough but it’s given me quite a few life lessons that I will hold on to forever. I’m very grateful for the ongoing support of the NYU Prague staff. <3