Student Union Chair Anna Jete Gauja: This Is the Time to Expand Your Horizons
We asked Anna Jete Gauja, Chair of the Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) Student Union (pictured), about what advice she has about the challenges and opportunities that we are unexpectedly facing in these times of anxiety, uncertainty and change.
What is it like to study under these new circumstances?
RSU has a wide range of study programmes, so each student’s daily schedule looks different. Remote learning allows us to plan our time more individually rather than just follow set class schedules. I have several lectures a week on Zoom where I meet my lecturers. These classes are often not much different from what they were like in person in classrooms. Currently each participant, student or lecturer connects individually, and most students do this from home. Sometimes there is no online lecture, but students are instead assigned a task, like to prepare a presentation, report, summary or something else. This is often more time consuming now than it was before. While we do have access to a wide range of digital study materials, like various databases and other types of study aids, some study materials are available at libraries that are now closed.
The upcoming examination period is causing students the most anxiety at the moment, since it is not clear yet how the interim tests and final exams will be conducted. It is interesting to hear that new methods are being thought of to create cumulative assessments, which would mean that that part of the exam grade could be obtained remotely now already before the examination period starts.
Are young people following the national guidelines and rules of conduct, in your opinion?
As far as I have observed RSU students, lecturers, and staff are following the rules of conduct carefully. We have a lot of information and also a good understanding of how important this is. This is possibly due to the outstanding doctors who make up the teaching staff of RSU and whose advice and recommendations are very important. Looking at the country as a whole, however, attitudes towards the guidelines vary, because everyone is different.
What would you currently suggest to RSU students?
Everyone is reacting differently to these times. I am glad that there is a cheerful atmosphere among young people and that people are encouraging one another. Even though this is a time of self-isolation, we at the RSU Student Union are trying to remind people that life has not come to a complete stop and that it is very important to plan our daily lives in a meaningful way. It helps to motivate yourself to reach new goals, even though it can seem difficult at times. Even if there are days when you’re not so busy with classes, you have to look for meaningful and interesting ways to fill the rest of your time. We don't have to roll up under a blanket and wait for the world to end, but rather can try to catch up on our work, study ahead, or take the opportunity to read a book, or call our grandparents. This is a good time to not only study your current courses, but to also repeat material from previous semesters, as well as to start preparing for your exams on time.
I would also recommend taking this opportunity to exercise at home or outside in parks or forests, all the while still complying with the appropriate social distancing rules, of course. Others might take the opportunity to read a book, or try out a new pancake recipe. All in all, this is a creative time because we can no longer go about our usual daily routines. We now have the opportunity to expand our horizons and learn new things while staying at home. There are also many chances to learn something new and visit a theatre or a museum online, or participate in online seminars. We will, in fact, be organising something of our own very soon!