My experience with education in Germany and Scotland during COVID-19
Written by: Sophia Duisberg
From: Munich, Germany
Edited by: Luana Mayer
In the past two years, we had two lockdowns in which online learning was a very important factor in teenagers' lives, and for me, I had a different experience with each lockdown.
So you get to know me better, I am just going to say a few things about myself: My name is Sophia; I usually live in Munich and go to a public school in Munich. Yet, last year, I was lucky enough to experience a year in a private boarding school in Scotland called Glenalmond College. I love both schools, and in both, I had a term with online learning.
The first lockdown came unexpectedly for everyone, and for my school in Germany, it was really hard to contact us at first and give us things to do as no one knew if we were going to go back to school in a week or in a few months. At first, I thought it was a good thing as teachers gave us some exercises to do at home and it wasn’t too much work. But as the lockdown extended, it got very boring. I started to miss lessons a lot, and I heard from a friend in America that they had zoom lessons. For me, I thought it was a fabulous thing, and so I suggested it to some teachers, but as many people didn’t have all the technical equipment, it wasn’t as easy at first. As the lockdown was almost finishing, some teachers were doing online lessons and it actually worked perfectly. Even though it was better than no lessons, zoom lessons were very long, and I really struggled to concentrate online as there were too many distractions. It was like watching a movie about things that do not actually wake my interest at this point. As soon as we got back to school, things started to get better because the teaching in school was so much more productive and so much more fun! For me though, normal school should happen in Scotland for this next year.
I didn’t have online learning until we got to the second term. This lockdown in the UK came very surprisingly as I flew to my boarding house the day the lockdown was announced. Many other international students from my school were quarantined together at our boarding houses. Our school offered that we could keep online learning in the boarding houses, so I decided to stay as there was a lockdown in Germany anyways. At first, days were very long with online learning. We also had Saturday school, but it was very different from what I experienced in my German school. From day one, we had a system, and we had tutors every day to have a little chat in our tutor group about how we were getting on with online learning. The teachers were very enthusiastic, and it was almost like normals school as all the lessons were quite similar to face-to-face lessons. I also had the luck to be at a boarding school because for me lunchtime was almost like normal lunch: All the internationals would get to lunch together, and we were like 15 girls in our boarding house. We would also do games in the afternoon together and had a bit of normal school life as we saw the teachers which lived on the campus sometimes.
For me, this second experience was obviously more enjoyable as I was in this special situation; but, I must say that my German school in the second lockdown also improved their online learning. In the end, both schools tried their best to make it as normal as possible, and I had a good online learning experience in which I learned valuable skills. Still, I do prefer in-person learning, as we all do, I think.