Updated: Mar 12
Courtesy of our partners at the University of Nottingham, UK
Prateik Mukherjee, reading an MSc Finance and Investment, shares his experience of studying, keeping in touch with friends and securing a job whilst in lockdown in the UK.
At the University of Nottingham, we have had some uncertainty regarding how our degrees would progress for the remainder of the academic year. Additionally, most of us international students have really been worried about whether to travel back home or stay at our university accommodation during such unprecedented times. Following are the key points which were of major concern, how the university has supported us and how we, as students, have adjusted to the situation and worked with each other.
Working remotely – assessments, deadlines and group work
At the University of Nottingham, we have received an incredible amount of support from our course representatives, lecturers, and department heads. Delivery has moved online, through Microsoft Teams, which has turned out to be a very efficient alternative to in-person lectures and seminars. Our examination format has also been re-evaluated and now we will be sitting our exams as individual coursework assignments, over the course of 5 days.
As most of our group members for our coursework assignments have travelled back to their respective home countries, we have found it extremely difficult to keep working on our assignments in a regular manner. However, we have also found it easy to learn from the online teaching methods resorted to by our university to provide lectures and seminars, and we have collaborated and coordinated our group coursework online, through Microsoft Teams, to have frequent team discussions. We have also used online Kanban tools like Trello to remotely track the health of our group projects and work on them together from different locations.
Accommodation – staying in the UK
When the news of the outbreak was received and the number of cases started escalating in the UK every day, most of us international students were very unsure if the best decision would be to travel back to our respective home countries. We were worried about our accommodation arrangements in every possible circumstance. Although a lot of students have decided to travel back to their respective countries, I am among those who have decided to stay back. Those that have stayed have received an incredible amount of help from the accommodations team to resolve all our uncertainties and we have been able to reside in our university accommodation till the end of our contracts in September. We have received extremely encouraging support from our hall tutors, and it has allowed all of us to reside here feeling safe and focused on our degrees. The internet connections in our accommodations have also been extremely good, to help us complete our assignments and communicate with our loved ones back home, which has made us feel very comfortable with our decision to stay back in the UK.
Postgraduate Employment – securing a role at EY
Applying for graduate employment opportunities has been clouded by uncertainty during these times, this is especially true for all the international students. Luckily, the various companies that I had applied to kept me updated and helped in reducing as much of the uncertainty as possible. My final interviews at some of the companies were held online through Microsoft Teams and we tried to follow the same format as we would have done before the outbreak. Some other students have attended their assessment centres online, I have also not encountered any connectivity issues, that may otherwise have interfered with the process of my online interviews.
I feel this has played a vital role in helping me secure a role in one of the big four financial services firms, Ernst and Young, which I start in August. Online communication with the university, regarding any formalities required to be completed before I join my new role after graduation, have been very prompt and I feel so supported by them!
Support groups – keeping in touch
Sometimes, it has been very difficult for us to maintain a regular life here as for the last one month we all have been feeling a little lonely. However, I have noticed incredible collaboration from different groups at the university to help provide support and sometimes just much needed friendly discussions. For instance, as a part of the UoN RockSoc, we have two Facebook messenger groups, one where we share music and one where the entire society gets together to just chat with each other. This has really helped me engage with people at university socially, during such times, and just knowing that I am not the only one in this situation has really helped. Our WhatsApp group for the 2019 PG offer holders, has also been a great source of conversations and helped us all feel involved in a social circle whilst still being far away from each other. There has been a group created on Microsoft Teams as well, specifically to support those who have decided to stay back within university accommodation during this period, for which I am extremely thankful.
It has really given us an opportunity to think about how we can help each other while we are all in this situation together at university.