– The motivation part is difficult, says Leonie Petersen from Germany, and Caraline Vaz from France agrees. Vertex wanted to know how distance learning works during covid-19 and heard about problems, but also possibilities.

Leonie Petersen.

Leonie Petersen is a 21-year-old exchange student from Germany, studying social sciences for intercultural relations at Umeå University.
How are you finding motivation?
– Through a self-made schedule and by setting small goals. I feel like doing nothing or little leads to actually doing even less. It feels like a negative spiral. If I lack motivation I try to listen to motivational music or speak to a friend, who is maybe also struggling with motivation. I also thought of creating a digital work space with a friend, but I haven’t tried it yet.
What does your new routine look like?
– I wake up early, because my body recognizes that the sun goes up so early. So normally I get up at 8:00 am. Then I eat break­fast and get ready by putting on clothes etc. Then I see what I have to do and write a to-do-list if needed or look at a potentially already existing list. I usually have a lunch and coffee break around noon to 1 pm. Then I study as long as I can concentrate.
What are you finding most difficult?
– The motivation part is very difficult to me, because you need a lot of self motivation and discipline to study all by yourself. I also miss discussions during the courses, it feels like not getting all the information, because you can only reflect on the issues by yourself. You are kind of stuck in your own thoughts and perspective and it’s harder to see other perspectives and get new impulses. I also find it difficult that the university, which is a kind of formal place, where I can focus and concentrate well, has moved to my living/bedroom. I do not know about the exact psychological effect, but it definitely makes a difference to me and feels different than writing assignments at home. In addition, I usually go to the library or another ‘neutral’ place to be productive and write my assignments, which is now impossible.
Is there anything you are enjoying?
– I like that I can use my time flexibly and make breaks when I cannot focus anymore, but it is also a challenge at the same time, because it is easier to procrastinate or get distracted by other things.
Top tip to share with others?
– For me it is very important to get dressed and make myself ready the same as I would going to the university, because it feels less lazy and helps me to have a productive attitude or rather setting. I also like to clear my desk first, so it has the same effect. Everything feels more structured then.

Caraline Vaz.

Caraline Vaz is a 20-year-old French ex­change student taking a BSc in Chemistry at Umeå University. She is currently studying from home with her partner due to the impact of covid-19.
How are you finding motivation?
– I have none. I only wake up every day because my conscience tells me to. It’s a whole new way of studying that I find challenging. Plus, I study two courses at a time, so I have to find a way to make time for both.
What does your new routine look like?
– So as I said, I study two courses at the same time, so I start with one from 9 a.m. to noon and the other starts at 1 p.m. and finishes at 3. It’s easier in this case to have the courses online, as I can choose which lesson I want to attend and which one I can study afterwards. All the courses are either taught on Zoom or are pre-recorded, and everything is on Moodle so it’s quite handy. Still, it’s a whole other way to study, and it’s really hard not to procrastinate (as I’m doing right now, haha).
What are you finding most difficult?
– The most difficult is to find motivation to wake up every day and sit at my desk and stare at my computer for six hours straight. Plus, I probably won’t have any labs either and a lab assistant might have to film him/herself doing the experiment and send us the data later so we can write the lab reports.
Is there anything you are enjoying?
– Staying home is both exhausting and help­ful. One of my courses is well organized, as we have all of the lessons pre-recorded and uploaded on Youtube. We are given the opportunity to talk with other students and we have a group discussion on Microsoft Teams. We can then discuss about the lessons, explain to each other what we understood, and answer some questions in groups. Plus the teachers are available and helpful. The other course on the other hand doesn’t seem as well organized. The teacher is struggling with the new system, which I totally understand. It’s not a course that was designed to be taught online. Half of the class already stopped attending to the Zoom meetings (online classes). We’ll see how it goes.
Top tip to share with others?
– HA-HA-HA. If anyone has tips, please share them.

Emily Rose Williams