Hilal Al Mahrouqi, student, logistics department at the German University of Technology (Gutech), Oman
I think one of the best news that I have heard not too recently was the announcement by the authorities concerned that all of us have to stay at home to curb the spread of the deadly corona virus, COVID-19. Since then, I have spent my time, literally in self-isolation, at home, for nearly two months now.
The announcement also noted that schools, universities and all other institutions would be closed for a month. I felt happy and excited about the holidays as that would give me time to do my bachelor thesis and also a variety of tasks, which I have not been able to complete at home.
However, the university started the online lectures soon after the stay-at-home announcement was made. But, these online lectures are enjoyable. I follow the lectures very well because my professors at the German university are very good teachers. But, the online practical courses pose a challenge, as we are not physically interacting.
Now, at home, I have added reading to my list of tasks. And I have been reading books and specific articles, with a view to develop my reading skills. Also, instead of assessments, I have started writing weekly assignments.
The most important aspect in all this is that now I am getting to spend more time with my parents. I am very happy with this because this is something I couldn’t do earlier as I had a busy, time-consuming schedule at the university.
Counting on technology
I feel that this crisis has positively affected students’ lives because it has made us realise that we could count on technology to help us in this time of need. It has also helped us to generate new ideas. In this, I am reminded of an apt adage: “Every bad thing happens for a good reason.”
Students without Internet
But the sad part is that those who live in remote corners are unable to access the Internet and don’t get a good WiFi connection to communicate or to watch the online lectures or do projects or complete other tasks. This is a very serious issue, which will affect the future of these students and thereby their concerns are being voiced out to the authorities concerned. Talks are on to determine whether the scholarships should be postponed to next year. This will indeed have a significant impact on the future of students, and they will be able to graduate only after a year.
Biggest challenges of COVID-19
The biggest challenge that I have faced so far in this crisis is the gathering of data that I need to complete my bachelor thesis: several companies have ignored me and refused even to provide the data or send it by email. However, I don’t blame them because this crisis has affected many companies, and they may have other priorities to handle, which are more important than my research questions.
Of course, there are technical issues such as slow Internet connection, poor quality, and lagging. My laptop is not capable of handling heavy software. And there is a lack of proper resources as the libraries are closed. There is also some conflict of timetable such as clashes between lectures.
Make a difference
The most important task right now is to strictly follow the authority’s directives; to reduce the risks of the coronavirus in my community. Also, as a student, I need to fully focus on my studies to serve Oman.
Again, I am ready to volunteer my services for the sake of the community. And, if the authorities call out for volunteers, I am ready and raring to go.
I have always wanted to volunteer, but never got the chance because there are already plenty of volunteers. But, if ever I get a chance, I will most willingly volunteer.