According to Goettinger-tageblatt.de, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases on the 20th of April in Germany exceeded 140,000 and 700 in Göttingen which is where I am staying for a Master program.
My name is Jun and it has been nearly 7 months since I came to Germany for a Master program. In this post, I would like to share my life during this pandemic and to give you an update with my university life.
In January and February, Asia including my home country, South Korea, was suffering from the Covid-19. The number of new cases grew exponentially in South Korea and I was worried about my family and friends very much. Thankfully, they are fine so far.
At that time, things were getting worse in Europe, especially in Italy. Until the end of February, Goettingen was quite peaceful and unaffected by the Covid-19. In the early February, I moved into a new flat and kept working on studying for the exams of my core modules: microbiology and genetics.
Everything changed at the end of February. One middle aged man who had just come back to Goettingen from his trip turned out to be infected.
One middle aged man who had just come back to Goettingen from his trip turned out to be infected. The number of cases increased in Goettingen and it started affecting my student life in Germany. Not only my exams, but all my cool winter break classes were also cancelled. In the meantime, there was some panic buying (der Hamsterkauf) going on in Goettingen. The first targets were always toilet papers and pasta in the supermarket. Masks were sold out for weeks. Although der Hamsterkauf seems to be gone now, it’s been a challenge to find toilet papers and masks. I had to bike for hours and hours to find a market that has toilet papers in stock. I filmed a youtube video searching for masks and toilet papers a couple of weeks ago.
… I received messages from all over the world including my family in Korea and my friends in the US and Japan.
“Hey Jun, I heard things are getting pretty bad in Germany and Europe. Are you doing alright?”
“You must be lonely being stuck at home far away from your family and friends….”
“Why don’t you come back to Korea since things are stabilizing here? The government is sending an airplane to bring Korean people living in Germany back to South Korea. You can get on that too.”
Not only about the virus infection, but they were also worried about a poor guy who had been stuck in a foreign country far away from his family and old friends. That made sense. Concerns about mental health are rising and lots of people readily get depressed at times like this. However, this was my response.
“I am doing okay here. I know things are safer in South Korea, but I want to stay here. Travel is not a good idea these days.”
As a matter of fact, I have been doing very well and able to get myself together by creating a powerful daily routine. Waking up at 6 every morning, I have been working out, reading books and poems, studying for my exams and writing a blog until I go to bed at 10 pm. Not to mention, my previous studying abroad and military experiences have definitely been helping me maintain a good mental health and go through this situation.
I started a youtube channel where I had to learn video editing and graphic design, and taking private online German lessons where I focused on learning some German slangs and reading news articles about the Covid-19. I also decided to start writing posts here in Study in Germany Land of Ideas. To be honest, I have never been bored because my everyday life at home was very much occupied with the things I mentioned above. Instead of feeling down and doing nothing at home, I found a way to fill my brain with novel ideas and joy in this crisis.
As a student in a microbiology master program, I couldn’t help not learning about the SARS COV-2. There are great podcasts and lectures available online these days. TWIV (This Week In Virology) is a podcast hosted by Dr. Vincent Racaniello, one of the greatest virologists who is making a tremendous effort to inform the public about the SARS-COV2. This podcast has been my absolute favorite along with TWIM (This Week In Microbiology) since before the Covid-19 pandemic started. If you can’t trust all the media full of misconceptions about the virus or learn more about the coronavirus (or other infectious viruses), this is a podcast you should try. Don’t worry about being overwhelmed by a difficult scientific terms. They do a really good job explaining things to the public.
I also wanted to do some volunteering as a biology-majored student. The Covid-19 diagnosis is performed with a technique called RT-PCR (Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction), which I have been conducting since I was in my bachelor program. It came to my attention that the University hospital was looking for student volunteers who are capable of performing this technique. I obviously applied for this, but due to a much larger number of volunteers than they expected, they decided to recruit 20 native German speakers for now and let the remaining students know later for availability, which was very sad to hear.
I sent the hospital and some professors in charge of the Covid-19 diagnosis an email in order to let them know I am available whenever they need a volunteer. However, it also turns out that there are other volunteer opportunities such as helping the health care workers take care of the patients or donating my blood because people have been cancelling due to social distancing. After finishing my exams in the second week of May, I am planning on starting volunteering in order to contribute to conquering the Covid-19 pandemic.
My summer semester in 2020 began today. My first day of lecture was supposed to be 14th of April, but it got postponed by a week. All my lectures are taking place in a digital form. I have just finished my biochemistry and immunology lecture. It’s very nice to go back to the lectures and learn new things. Video lectures went pretty smoothly without much connection problems.
However, I am facing a bummer as a microbiology-majored student. Due to social distancing, I can’t go to the laboratory class. In this semester, I am supposed to take two laboratories: 3 weeks full-time practical course and 7 weeks full-time internship.This is almost a semester-long laboratory activity assuming one semester lasts 12 weeks. At this moment, nobody has any idea when students can go back to the lab. Hopefully soon because the lab is real fun in science and I need those credits in order to graduate on time
When will this pandemic end? No one knows… Vaccine development will take at least a year and it’s a great challenge to develop an antiviral. But this shall pass. Once it does, there’s one thing I really want to do: traveling.
I am doing okay here. I know things are safer in South Korea, but I want to stay here.
Actually, I made some cool travel plans for this winter break, but had to cancel all of them. I wanted to visit some beautiful cities in my state: Lower Saxony and Hamburg, Luebeck, and Bremen because I can take regional trains for free with my semester ticket. I wanted to explore some Eastern European countries as well. Right now, all I can think about is just to go on a trip with a backpack and try new foods and meet new people (I am also a couchsurfer). If you are interested, please stop by my couchsurfing web page below!
If you are a student who is working on your application to German schools (whether it’s winter 2020 or summer 2021), I would advise you to keep up your good work:) Revise your motivation letter and study more German language. Keep an eye on school websites because things might change with the admission deadline. For your information, my university (University of Goettingen) is discussing the possibilities of extending the admission deadline and going to notify quite soon. In other words, they haven’t made any statement where they won’t accept an applicant for winter semester 2020. So if you are discouraged by the current situation, there’s no reason to! Since things are distinct from state to state in Germany, the best way to keep yourself informed with admissions is to check the websites regularly. And ask questions to the admission’s office in advance if you have one.
Although the number in Germany seems quite scary, it didn’t severely affect my student life here. In my opinion, Germany is handling the situation quite well and things will stabilize in the near future.
Study abroad begins from the moment you start thinking about it. As a student who has been studying abroad for about 8 years, I would like to advise you that your success of studying abroad highly depends on your preparation in your home country. So take advantage of your excessive time and try to be productive. But most importantly, stay healthy!
Thanks for reading my long and first post. Let me know if you have any questions (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Study abroad begins from the moment you start thinking about it.