Studying during a pandemic
The dream of every student is to learn a new language in another country. That is my case too. On January 2020 I started my studies in Vancouver, Canada, in a lovely institute called St. Giles. At the beginning, it was difficult because I knew almost nothing about English except for essential phrases like: “Hello”, “How are you?”, “Can you help me?” etc. I remember that the first days I depended on my translator to express myself, it was difficult, but as the days went by I was improving.
Some time ago I used to fear English because I wasn’t good at speaking or understanding it, but then my teachers gave me the confidence not to be afraid to fail. Also, I realized that no one cared if I made a mistake, because making mistakes is part of my learning process.
Then I started to meet new friends, in fact my best friend comes from France and of course she speaks French and I speak Spanish, so you can imagine how our first conversation was, even though sometimes we don’t know the appropriate words in English, but we have always been able to understand each other. When I met her and my other friends, it was the precise moment when I realized how great it is to know another language. You can relate to people of other nationalities and make a really good friendship, despite not speaking the same language, something that before my trip was unthinkable.
In February and March we were so busy discovering new places. Furthermore, our institute has a social program so we always had something to do after classes. In my opinion, doing recreational activities after classes is the best moment to practice all the knowledge that you have been learning formally.
We visited places like Stanley Park, English Bay, Deep Cove, etc. I could produce an interminable list of amazing places. Vancouver has incomparable landscapes, you can find mountains and beaches in the same place – I don’t have words to describe them. Everything was going well but then something that nobody expected happened, a global pandemic started and forced us to be in quarantine.
The circumstances were uncertain, we didn’t know what would happen, and then my friends started going back to their countries. Sadly, I had to say goodbye because they preferred returning home, because the situation there was worse than in Canada. Many countries began to close their borders, so for them it was better not to risk getting trapped in another country and not seeing their parents for a long time. I hated the farewells. To be honest, I cried when they left.
Suddenly, I realized that I also had to make a decision: go home, continue my studies virtually or postpone them until the situation improved. That could have been one of the most difficult decisions that I ever had to make.
Finally, I decided to continue my studies and give an opportunity to virtual classes. Honestly, I didn’t have high expectations about virtual classes. At that time, I thought that classes would not be the same as physical classes. However, let me tell you something. The virtual classes have surprised me a lot. It is almost like having physical classes, but with some advantages. For instance, during the mornings I can sleep more because I don’t have to waste time travelling. In the afternoon, when lessons are over, I am not busy anymore. Nevertheless, this means I have more time to start those projects that I never had time to start before, which is good.
So here I am, isolated at home having virtual classes in another country with classmates connected from all over the world at the same time, laughing a lot, getting to know different experiences and cultures. During this experience, I have learned how to be grateful for another day of life, discover new talents, re-start old projects that I had forgotten for a long time and eat more than I should. However, the most important thing is doing my best and contributing to the end of this pandemic. After all, I will have a new story to tell when this is all over.
Ana Elisa Kuhn
St. Giles, Vancouver