Sorana Rida: Her study life and exchange amidst the pandemic


I am Sorana Rida, 21 years old from Romania. I am currently studying in HAMK International Business degree full time. In my second year in HAMK Valkeakoski I have participated in a few projects such as Nordplus and Marketing Ring. I was also a tutor for the new students, and now I am the responsible tutors for the new tutors.

”How was your exchange in the USA?”

In the spring semester of my second year I was on exchange study in the USA at the Ferris state university in Michigan. I started my exchange in the beginning of January and it was suppose to end at the beginning of May.

The application process for the exchange was quite long and demanding. However, together with my classmates who were also applying and with the help of some staff I managed to do everything on time. Because I applied for exchange abroad I received some financial support from HAMK, which was only the case for USA exchange as other destination within the EU, student receives even more financial support through the Erasmus project.

During the time I was at the university I was staying in the student dorm at the campus and attended classes face to face. Unfortunately, when the Covid-19 pandemic started to get worse we had to switch to online courses. Our advisor both in USA and Finland told all the exchange students that it was strongly recommended to return home as nothing was clear with how the pandemic was going to evolve.

”How did you manage your travels back to Finland?”

During spring break in the second week of March, me and my friends went to visit New York and I was planning to go back home to Romania for a week during the holiday. Sadly, as things with the pandemic got bad quite quickly I returned to Romania and was unable to go back to USA. Soon after HAMK sent out notice to exchange students that they needed to end the exchange period for everyone and requested that the students be returned back to Finland. They assured us that we will get help and some compensation for our expenses as this was the best decision they could reach to during that situation.

I was already returning to Romania during all this and HAMK agreed that it was a good idea for me to remain there for the time being. I got compensated for my flight back home from USA. For the rest of the semester and summer I remained in Romania as the situation was getting worse everywhere. I continued my studies online until May. We go a lot of help from the representatives of the Ferris university as well as HAMK staffs. Although it was hard for me as it was for everyone else I had to adapt to the situation. I was able to study at almost full capacity even from home and online.

”How are your experiences learning from home?”

Since the new academic year started I returned to Finland even though I would only have online studies. This is because I am one of the responsible tutor and the new tutors would have needed my help. I also preferred to be in Finland during my studies even though I could not go to campus. This helps with my productivity and social life. It is still hard to fully focus on the classes without the usual interactions of face to face. But me and my classmates are getting together sometimes and work on school assignments which helps with the socializing and motivations.

”Is online lectures working and how could it be improved?”

I believe is quite hard for both students and teachers doing online studies from what I have heard. However unfortunately this is the only safe option available at the moment in order to keep a safe distance. The online classes are alright as it has both advantages and disadvantages. Some of the disadvantages are that its less productive and less interactive. It is also harder for people to communicate and mange information using only Zoom and Microsoft teams.

However there are some good points. Online lectures are beneficial to students who combine study with work. It is easier to manage daily schedule if they have other projects going on. There is also no need for commuting which helps students financially. Overall, at this moment it is the safest option to continue our study online. Many of us hopes to get back to normal classes at least a few time per week. But you never know what the future might hold. Stay safe.

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