Cut off from physical interaction and missing the college atmosphere may be a worry for many college students when the focus is on online classes and distance learning. While staying home and learning in a safe environment provides for initial comfort, the students are soon realising the lack of access to laboratories, practical courses leading to hands-on skills and internships or even later a job.
A fourth year student in Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) at German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech), Abdullah al Mandhari, shared some of his experiences about his online studies and his on-going projects.
Sometimes, Mandhari has been studying while being surrounded by his nephews and niece. This highlights the challenges students face within their home-environments, in a region that is highly family-oriented.
Managing social life at home and online studies can be challenging at times. In his view, online classes have positive and negative aspects. “Currently most of the students stay in their comfort zones, at home. But, I think, there will be less quality in our final projects – the thesis. Unfortunately, most of us are too distracted most of the time. I am currently working on the time-frame of my final project. I have worked on that every single day in our semester breaks,” he said.
Recently Mandhari worked on architectural design projects such as a drive-through cinema. “I have some other goals to reach within this year. I will participate in the International Design Contest ‘Jump the Gap’ which will be held this month,” he said. Jump the Gap is a worldwide competition in designing innovative and sustainable bathrooms for the future, held by Roca, in collaboration with the Barcelona Design Centre.
To concentrate on his projects and assignments, Mandhari has been following a weekly schedule. “When I focus on my goals, I can reach them easily. I always schedule my week to do different things such as my assignments, physical workout, I also work in my online business and I learn new skills.
“I want every day to be a challenge, so that I can learn much more from life and enhance my personality. I like to share the positive energy and create a motivating study-environment at home. I think students can always remind each other to work together or compete with each other in order to reach each phase of their work. I think many students don’t know how to increase their self-motivation at home. I often played an important role to increase their motivation,” said Mandhari who has been advising some of his study-colleagues via zoom meetings.
“As far I can see, all the projects went very well. But now, after two months of online classes and towards the end of our semester, it seems that the energy levels have dropped. We need continuous motivation to work on our projects,” he said.
As a social person, Mandhari always texts and calls the people he loves and cares for. “We also watch movies online or have joint videos calls. It is fun because we realise how good days make us stronger in life. We didn’t realise that when we lived the moment, but we realise now during these times, when we stay at home. In future, I can see myself as a businessman working in different fields.”
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