Shirin: Korea University Winter School (December 2020)

Most students look forward to the end of the academic year to visit their families and friends and spend another adventurous and fun summer vacation. But of course, for the summer of 2021, everything was different, and the question of what you can do during your break was more relevant. For those who like to benefit and learn something new, virtual courses are a great solution. I didn’t want to spend my holidays in front of the TV, watching movies and TV shows, so I applied for funding to participate in a virtual program. I am studying environmental science, and I am interested in learning sustainability, so I chose to enroll in Sustainability Strategies course by Korea University International Winter Campus.

The great thing about most of the courses is that you can participate in them regardless of your current degree. For example, we had students from different backgrounds, including business, creative arts and law. Having representatives of various faculties is helpful, especially for a group project as you have more perspectives and points to consider and learn. A group project was the primary assignment that we had to present during the final week. The final grade included group project, exam and attendance and participation. The zoom classes were held Monday to Friday from 1 pm to 4 pm New Zealand time, and there were all recorded. All of the sessions were interesting and engaging as most of them were accompanied by incredible Sir David Attenborough movies. Besides, the professor shared lots of exciting stories from his experience of sustainability in different contexts. I believe that virtual program was beneficial to develop teamwork and time management skills.

As we didn’t have much time to prepare for the presentation, we had to spend extra time out of class. It was not easy to select a convenient time due to the different time zones. Sometimes our meeting would continue until 2 am, so I had to learn how to manage everything and be always prepared. Besides, a virtual meeting is more challenging than in person because I feel more comfortable discussing with a real person, particularly when we can’t agree about something. And with people refusing to turn on their cameras, it was even more challenging. In terms of a program itself, I think that it helped me to develop critical thinking skills. I learned that one must be careful when making conclusions about sustainability because there are no globally accepted norms of how it should be assessed. This skill is valuable, especially in my program of study. Overall, I enjoyed the program as I expanded my knowledge about sustainability and learned a bit about Korean culture. I believe virtual programs are a great addition that can contribute to studies and help develop or improve various skills.

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