Newsportal - Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Online semester with a time difference
23-year-old Aishwarya Deshpande is one of over 6,000 international students at RUB. She has been pursuing a Master’s degree in cognitive science since the winter semester 2019/20. All she wanted during the winter semester break was visit her parents in India when the coronavirus pandemic changed her plans.
Cancelled flights mean the semester is cancelled as well?
Aishwarya Deshpande travelled to her home country with only the most essential luggage. “I wouldn’t have needed my books during the planned two-week holiday. At first, I didn’t even want to bring my laptop, but in the end I took it with me so that I could watch movies,” she says.
What was already to be feared during her stopover at the completely overcrowded airport in Dubai became apparent just a few days after her arrival in Mumbai when the flights to Germany were cancelled. But she didn’t know then that the summer semester would only take place online and she wouldn’t be able to return to Bochum any time soon. Thanks to her laptop she can still continue her studies online.
Struggling with red tape and other hurdles
The coronavirus pandemic also brought uncertainty for Aishwarya Deshpande. The limited ways of communication make it difficult to deal with the German immigration authorities, the insurance company etc. from India, with whom she could discuss matters in person or at least by telephone in Germany. On top of that, the administrative channels in India are very lengthy, so that a visa application takes months. This is problematic in these uncertain times where long-term planning seems impossible.
The international student can’t be sure when she will be able to come back to Bochum, where her room in a shared apartment has remained unchanged since she left it. The running costs, such as the rent for the unused room, are an additional financial burden.
Still, I wouldn’t want to study anywhere else rather than at RUB.
But communication with RUB employees works really well, and she is offered all the support she needs. This is also confirmed by other international students. “Especially in comparison to other universities, people appreciate the structured organisation at RUB,” as Deshpande points out.
Daily schedule according to German time
Despite everything, the ambitious student has come to terms with the situation. Due to the time difference of 4.5 hours in winter and 3.5 hours in summer, Aishwarya Deshpande has adapted her daily schedule to German time, in order to be as fit as possible to take part in her online courses – more courses than she would have attended during a regular semester.
This means getting up at midday and going to bed in the early morning, which also affects her private life. Although she lives in the same house as her parents, the family currently lives side by side and hardly ever sees each other.
It’s hard, but my parents understand and support me throughout.
Aishwarya Deshpande remains optimistic and wants to make her parents proud. It’s the only thing she can do. She refuses to be disheartened by the negative headlines in the news. When asked how she copes with everything and why she decided to study at RUB, she answers: “When I do something I love, it doesn’t feel like work to me.” For her, Germany is the cradle of psychology, the field she is deeply passionate about.
It’s not clear yet how, exactly, her studies will continue, but Aishwarya Deshpande tenaciously continues to look for a solution.
27 August 2020