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Theme: Student experiences during COVID-19

Theme: Student Experiences During COVID-19

COVID-19 has been hard on all of us, and getting used to a new way of living does come with its challenges. One of the important things for us at TIU, has been to keep the TIU community and spirit going, and do our best to support and enrich the lives our student body.
We have asked our students to share their experiences studying at TIU during COVID-19, and this is what they had to say.

"Peace of Mind"

Enkhtuvshin from Mongolia | Business Economics (2nd Year)

Greetings, my name is Enkhtuvshin but everyone calls me Kyo. I am a 2nd-year Business Economics student from Mongolia. I have been given the opportunity to share how a Tokyo International Student living in Japan is dealing with this drastic change the world is facing due to Covid-19 pandemic.

We all know the effects the pandemic had on the world economy as well as how people function in society. Without a doubt, the pandemic has caused difficulties for everyone, affecting their lifestyles, work, school and how they interact with others. As for a university student living in Japan, I would like to express that the situation is not as dire as other parts of the world. The way that the Japanese government is dealing with Covid-19 is admirable, the fact that the government is not forcing harsh restrictions, rather enforcing that people go through the necessary daily interactions whilst keeping everyone safe. On top of that, the Japanese culture of respecting others' health and safety clearly shined during this pandemic. Japanese people, even before Covid-19, wear masks commonly in order to avoid any possible transmission of diseases. So when the Covid-19 hit, the Japanese population was ready and the fact that everyone is wearing a mask makes it way less worrisome.

I for one, have been at peace living in japan during this difficult time as Tokyo International University has switched to an Online teaching system which has been way more effective than I expected. Japan has kept everything calm and peaceful as the people are informed about the latest Covid-19 news but there is no panic within the country. If I were to be somewhere else in the world, I would have to live in quarantine with countless restrictions which would probably affect my mental state. The support for students from both the university and the Japanese government has been exceptional. If a pandemic similar to Covid-19 ever happens again, I am confident that TIU and Japan will be able to keep everyone safe.



"the life and environment in Japan is irreplaceable"

Shreya Data from India | Digital Business & Innovation (1st Year)

Hello, everyone! I am Shreya Data, a freshman pursuing BSc. Digital Business and Innovation at TIU. After completing my first semester in Japan, I returned to my home country; India in February. It was a great feeling to be at home after 5 months as I enjoyed my time in Delhi with my family and friends. I was just preparing for my return to Japan in March, when it was announced that the Spring term will be held online. This news came as a relief because the COVID-situation in India was better than Japan, and I wished to stay with my family during the pandemic.

Soon, as the online classes, and the lockdown in India started, it was a bit difficult to adjust at first due to several reasons, like time difference between India and Japan for instance. But as I gradually became used to the online platforms, now at the end of the 4-months long online semester, I can say that I am finally comfortable to online-learning. Undoubtedly, it was because the efforts of my professors and the university staff. The quality of the classes barely varied from offline style. In fact, it had become easier for students to participate in discussions. The time and efforts invested by the teachers is highly applaudable, because even though the classes were not offline, we could still connect with professors through email, for questions and doubts to which, they replied promptly. Moreover, the university has been so supporting that several services were modified to help the students in their home country.

However, after staying in India for more than 5 months now, I really miss Japan and my life there. Although I get to connect with my friends through social media, but the life and environment in Japan is irreplaceable. Surely, online learning experience can never be an alternative to the traditional offline way. But unfortunately, the travel restrictions in Japan and India do not allow me to return to Japan any time soon, but I really hope that I do!



"A Silver Lining"

Vaamika from India | International Relations (2nd Year)

Many people's lives have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and despite this, the online classes for spring semester at Tokyo International University were actually a silver lining during this difficult time. Personally, with the lockdown and the occupational problems facing the people in my country, online classes helped me to study efficiently and further help my family during the crisis by making them not worry about missing classes or my safety being endangered while having to travel. The online classes were also a great experience, because the teachers were fully prepared with great presentation slides, quizzes, and worksheets, and also helped students to socialize by creating breakout rooms for group work on Zoom.

Further, the Japanese government provided 100,000 yen to all its citizens and the international students to help us in this pandemic situation. Along with this, JASSO also provided support cash money of 100,000 yen to selected students and it has helped various students overcome their financial problems. Last thing that I would especially like to mention is the provision of storage room provided by TIU to help students stuck in their home country to move out of the dormitory and therefore, store their luggage in a room till the time they return due to the inability of students to find an apartment at Japan from their home country.

Hence, overall, I feel that TIU has really helped it's International students throughout this pandemic situation and is still helping. Hoping that this COVID-19 situation can be curbed as soon as possible!!



"TIU was equipped with all necessary factors"

Enaakshi Adhkari from Sri Lanka | International Relations (3rd Year)

I am Enaakshi Adhikari from Colombo, Sri Lanka. The global pandemic has affected everyone to an extent that we have had to change our lifestyles due to this situation. It was quite difficult for me to adjust to the situation, however, the fact that I enjoy overcoming challenges helped me overcome the various struggles I had to face due to the change in our lifestyles. I was in the process of completing my study abroad program in the US when the lockdown took place in March 2020. Hence, I was not able to take a flight back to my home country as planned due the airport being closed in Sri Lanka. Due to this reason I had to extend my stay in the US. The International Exchange Office at TIU helped throughout my extended stay in the US as I had to extend my visa, housing and meal plan. Their support helped me submit documents on time to make sure that everything ran smoothly.

As I was aware of the fact that I was able to take courses at TIU although I was on exchange, I was eager to make the most out of time that was given to us by the lockdown. Thus, I started taking a few courses at TIU as well. The Academic Affairs Office and my Professor's helped me in every way as I was taking courses at TIU, while completing my courses online under my exchange university. When taking courses at TIU I realised the high standard of the features and facilities given to the students at TIU. The Professor's were well equipped to teach online and the interactive sessions, presentations, discussion and debates via zoom was done in a professional manner to an extent that I felt that we were not missing out on anything, as it was similar to as in class lecture. In addition, the efficiency of the E-track Academic Affairs office with regards to answering our emails and clarifying our doubts is commendable.

The fact that TIU had its other facilities such as the English Plaza, Japanese Plaza, Peer Assistants, Counselling Services and Career Support Centre working online allowed the students to interact with other students while developing our skills and getting necessary services from TIU. Thus, I would say that TIU was equipped with all necessary factors in order to face the global pandemic in an efficient manner. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff at TIU for providing us with these services. Hope to see everyone on campus soon!



"We are all in this together!"

Nguyen Thanh Thao from Vietnam | Inernational Relations (3rd Year)

My name is Thao, I was born and raised in Vietnam. I returned to Japan for my internship one month before the pandemic started to spread in Tokyo. However, towards the last week of my internship, the rising cases of coronavirus in Tokyo started to cause concern. However, the company decided that my health and well-being as an intern were the company's priority, therefore, my supervisor discussed with TIU Career Center to propose that I could work remotely with regards to the current situation. The school agreed immediately and I was able to work from home for a period of time. I was lucky to return to the company for a farewell party which was organized by my supervisor before the pandemic situation worsened 2 weeks after.

Gradually, I started transitioning to working and teaching remotely for my part-time job as a teacher when the state of emergency was announced. After experiencing remote-working for several weeks, I found that I did not struggle much with TIU's online classes. However, I cannot say that I do not miss the social aspect of TIU. What I find really special about TIU is that the professors are really focused on student-centered learning. In my Japanese classes, we use a TIU-style teaching method where all the students and the teacher sit at a round table together, and instead of learning everything entirely through slides and lecturing, we learn from each other. Peer-to-peer interaction is a really pivotal part of education at TIU, and it feels like it falls short in our distance learning. We use Zoom and can see one another and our teacher, but everyone is always muted so as not to interfere with background noise.

However, I actually grew fond of the e-learning experience. The professors still tried their best to lead thought-provoking discussions on Zoom. I can confidently raise my opinion without worrying about peer pressure. I feel as though I can learn the material at my own pace and on my own time, with breaks when I need them. Before, a normal school day involved me waking up one or two hours early to prepare for school and returning home late until nearly closed time. Now, I wake up at whatever time I would like, which has had a positive effect on me, reducing my levels of stress overall. I can spend more time on my personal interests like designing and video editing besides doing schoolwork all the time. With the stressful environment of school being significantly reduced, in my mind the pros of E-Learning outweigh the cons.

Quarantine and a long period of isolation, especially for international students like me who cannot go back to their countries can be daunting, even exhausting. We're suddenly in a situation where we have all the time in the world but are not sure how to utilize our time properly. As for me, I was determined to be more productive with every aspect of my life during this important period of time:
1. Updated my resume - I tried to be a little proactive by utilizing this free time to update my resume, my LinkedIn profile, and even creating my first ever photography portfolio.
2. Getting back to exercising - Staying fit and eating well have always been my top priority. Throughout this time of uncertainty, I realize the one thing I can take control of is my health and wellbeing. Knowing that the internet is filled with hundreds of home workout videos that require little to no gym equipment, I finally could chalk out a workout plan for myself and stick to it.
3. Joining online events - There have been thousands of free virtual experiences, events, workshops, webinars in which people can partake to make them feel like they're experiencing outdoor life. In the past few months, I have been following up on virtual tours of famous museums I have never been to before, watching my favorite band's virtual concert and enrolling in several free online courses available from top universities, including Princeton, Harvard, and Yale. The possibility of entertainment is endless, and I can still experience it in the comfort of my own home.

I have faith that the pandemic situation will turn out brighter and students can go back to TIU in the future. Considering that the university takes precautionary and preventative measures seriously to ensure the safety of its employees and students, considering that the Japanese government, along with TIU, is providing adequate health and financial support to all international students and its citizens, considering that we students can reach out to the university for any assistance, any updates and information at any time. It is important that students individually play their parts in following these guidances from the university and the government. We must see the pandemic as an opportunity to reflect on the ways in which we are all interconnected, how supporting each other can bring about great changes and how we can ensure society works better for all us in the aftermath of the crisis.

This pandemic is about asking what do we all want for the future, and what lessons can we take with us for future crises to better care for each other and to think about solidarity. We are all in this together!



"NEW NORMAL IN JAPAN"

Girvan Bhagaskara from Indonesia | Business Economics (2nd Year)

Hello guys, I am Girvan Bhagaskara currently a 2nd-year student on Tokyo international university Business economy major. Lately, because of Covid-19 pandemic hit japan a lot of activity has changed. Japan declares an emergency state, a lot of stores closed, and the government encourages everyone to stay at home. This semester Tokyo international university held an online class as a way to adapt to this new pandemic situation. This system is certainly new for me as I never took any other online class or seminar. At first, this online lecture system feels weird because I can't interact directly with my lecturer nor my classmates, but after a few days, I think both the lecturer and the students have adapted to this online lecture through zoom and Moodle. This online lecture system gives me as a student more flexibility because I'm in my own house, so I don't need to walk to the next class between class period or I don't need to go to the cafeteria to have lunch at lunch break.

However, the pandemic drastically decreases our social activity as it is harder to meet other people amid the spreading virus in Japan. Ever since I got back to Japan from Indonesia, I haven't gone out of the town for a few months. This pandemic situation changes a lot of my lifestyle such as refraining myself from going out and start to cook my meals every day. On the positive side, since I mostly stay at home and cook my meals, I manage to decrease my monthly expense. Moreover, the japan government has helped all of its peoples including foreign students with a 100.000 yen cash handout. And TIU also support the students that currently in japan or in their country to receive this cash handout soon. This is a relief for us who temporality lost part-time income because the store is closed due to Japan's emergency state.

For me, the biggest enemy of this new lifestyle is boredom. Yes, if we spend most of our time in the room every day doing the same things again and again, we could hit the limit where we become exhausted from all of the class and assignment. So, to deal with this problem, I think it's important to have your mean of entertainment for yourself. For example, looking for a new hobby, or learning new interesting matters that you like, playing games, talk to your friends through online means, or many more. Luckily, I found my new hobby which is cooking! Since I began to cook all of my meals by myself since the pandemic hits. Sometimes I also like to combine this cooking hobby with my photography hobby and take pictures of my food.

I hope this pandemic will be over soon and everything could be normal again. For now, the best thing that we could do is to stay at home and stay healthy. Stay safe guys!