First year, studying remotely: How I survived? and some tips for first year!
My dream of studying university abroad was terribly interrupted by the pandemic. I expected an amazing welcome week, going to the big lectures in the Oculus, meeting people in societies events, living on campus… However, on September 28 (day 1 of my virtual welcome week), I was at home, I was at Lima, Peru and I stayed there until February 13th. I lost many opportunities, almost half of the university life of my first year. I was sad and believed that I would never recover everything I lost; however, I was so wrong!
Studying all first term and almost half of term 2 remotely was not so bad. In terms of academic stuff, I believe that I was privileged. Warwick gives us one of the best online teachings from all over the world, of course, it is not perfect. My Peruvian friends have classes by zoom, google meet or blackboard. I attended some classes from March to June in a Peruvian university and if I compare it to Warwick, Warwick online teaching will win without any doubts. Well, it should, right? Warwick is a world-class university with one of the best economics departments in the world!
However, there are still many complaints because learning online will never be the same as face-to-face learning. It is impossible; however, I believe that online learning gives us many advantages.
In the first year, you have the following modules: Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, The World Economy (History), Quantitative Techniques which cover 3 modules (Statistics during term 2, Mathematics during term 1 and Computing and Data Analysis which is mainly a self-study module with 2 assignments). The final exams are during term 3 but you have multiple tests, assignments, and group projects during all the year. However, DO NOT PANIC! Year 1 does not count in your degree; however, you should give your best and get used to studying at university so you will not struggle with year 2.
Probably, the main point will be commitment and responsibility. To give you an overview of how virtual learning work, I am going to describe it to you briefly. Warwick works with two main platforms: Moodle and Microsoft Teams.
- In Moodle, you find all the materials and content of each module. The professors update it weekly and add new content (asynchronous lectures, quizzes, pre-class questions, core readings…). Most of them also add a timetable that includes which lectures and exercises you should revise before every live lecture or seminar. Some professors also send emails/reminders with the content of the week. My advice here is to check Moodle frequently (I check it like 3-5 times every day, but I am crazy so I believe a couple of times will be enough) and of course follow the timetable, you should watch all the asynchronous lectures, do the pre-classes questions, read the core readings in the right time. I know it is so difficult and this is probably the main problem for most of the students. They should leave the content for “later” and they end 4-5 weeks behind and use the holidays to catch up on everything. Personally speaking, I will never recommend this.
- I love Microsoft teams. I believe it is the best platform for online learning. In teams, we have our weekly live lectures. These are the big events, for more than 200-300 students. There, you can ask questions in the chat or the professor will answer the questions posed in the forum (this is on Moodle, my advice is to always ask questions there or by emails to the professors). The live lectures have different structures: for statistic techniques and Microeconomics (term 1), it is more about spaces where the professor does some exercises/examples of each topic while in World Economy (History) it is more about students’ participation through the chat!
In teams, we also have seminars/classes for about 20 students. These spaces are basically for doing in-class exercises, some of them could be solved for the tutors while in others you must participate (World economy mainly), or you have to do some group work. The breakout rooms of teams will be used for the group work but yes, it is weird to talk with someone we have not met.
We use teams for the Advice & Feedback hours. Each professor and tutor have 2 hours a week for these sessions where the students can ask any questions related to the module, past exams, tests, … Do not forget to book with time. It can be difficult to get a slot in periods of exams, for example. My best advice is to use these Feedback Hours as most as you can! I have attended many and they helped me a lot to have a better understanding of some topics and to know better your professors! Remember that there are no silly questions!!!
- Probably, you have already heard about MyWarwick. This app is brilliant. There you can see the availability of the study spaces, the campus map, next events and the most important your TIMETABLE. This app also works as a reminder. You hear its alarm 15 minutes before each lecture and seminars. It reminds you of the deadline of your assignments and sends you notifications when your feedbacks (results of exams, essays, groups projects) are already posted (This always scares me!). So DON’T FORGET TO DOWNLOAD MYWARWICK!!!
As you can see, you have many resources, but you must USE THEM! If you are struggling with any module, you can also contact the pastoral team of the economics department. They are always able to help!
Finally, you can also contact your friends. There is always someone who is good at one module or have already done the “impossible exercise”. You can contact 2nd or 3rd-year friends too! They will share their experiences with you and give you the best advice. And you can contact me, I am always happy to help!