online student
We caught up with Charlotte Synnestvedt, an international student from Norway, to discuss her online learning experience so far. Source: Study International

To further her business career, Charlotte Synnestvedt had to make a choice. 

She could either stay in her home country of Norway where her business education would be subsidised or she could apply for a leading business school overseas.

But after much deliberation, the latter won.

“It’s quite crazy that I could have chosen to study in Norway almost for free, but I felt that studying abroad and studying in London would give me career advantages later down the road,” she told Study International

Personally, the promise to start afresh and discover what a foreign land could offer compelled her to leave —  and have turned out to be the wind at her back.

“Even though it’s challenging at first, you learn so much about yourself and the outside world when you study somewhere else.”

online student

Charlotte is currently studying for her Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) at Hult International Business School, UK. Source: Charlotte Synnestvedt

At the moment, however, exploring the surroundings of Hult International Business School’s London campus would have to wait.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK has been on a national shutdown since March 24 and restrictions are reportedly set to last until at least May 7.

This has transformed Charlotte from an international student into another kind of student, ie. an online one.  

New to the online student experience, the 19-year-old business learner sheds light on her transition from traditional to tech-centric virtual classes: 

“Online education allows us to keep attending lessons, to ask the teachers questions and to have group projects wherever we are in the world — despite the restrictions of the coronavirus situation such as lockdowns.

“We also get grades as normal, instead of ‘pass and fail’ which some universities have. This is good for the students that actually work really hard and means that we have to stay active online.”

Students elsewhere are lamenting the loss of a schedule and self-discipline. But Charlotte is witnessing the contrary: Online education is turning out to have its own unique motivating effect.

“Studying online means that teachers still push students to work hard, even though many people find this situation very difficult.

“Plus with tools like Zoom, we can easily contact them throughout the day with our concerns about our studies or what’s going on,” she says.

Being far away from home, Charlotte appreciates the efforts that her teachers have made to keep her positive and focused amid COVID uncertainty. 

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Managing time wisely and staying engaged are important too, according to Charlotte.

“You need to take it seriously and act as if you were in a school environment, don’t sit in your bed having classes, eat before classes, don’t have your phone close to you and take notes.

“If you can have that type of self-control online classes would definitely work as a good way to learn,” she says.

Her business school helps in this aspect by fixing lectures and taking attendance.

“This is something I prefer since it makes me come to every class and makes me shape my days around my classes,” she says.

The one thing that Charlotte is concerned about, however, is group projects. For one of her classes, they were tasked to make a video and her group had planned to interview people in the streets.

Being on lockdown calls for some improvisation and Charlotte is choosing to see the upside of this.

“Since this is difficult during the lockdown, it just makes us think differently and encourages us to be more creative with our group project — which is challenging, but also a really good practice.”

online student

Maintaining a stable social and Wi-Fi connection is essential for an online student. Source: Anthony Wallace/AFP

Maintaining a stable connection

One way in which Hult keeps their students connected is through their Facebook page, which is buzzing with online learning posts and graduate advice.

For instance, a recent post discussed virtual learning experiences and how the School’s students are adjusting:

“We work much faster, much more effectively and drive results because everyone is focused with their tools such as laptops, computers and tablets,” says Hult EMBA student Karim Hechema.

Charlotte’s business school also keeps online students in the loop by sending out regular emails, releasing a weekly update video by the dean on Youtube and staying active on social platforms such as LinkedIn and Instagram.

“I always feel updated on what is going on at the school even though we are not physically there.

“The professors are easy to reach through email and Zoom, I can contact other students through social media, Whatsapp or email since we can see all the names in our online classes and we can still join online student clubs and societies.”

Ever since she landed in London, Charlotte has formed a treasured connection with the school through its international student network.

A connection that perhaps came easier than expected, since English people are known to be emotionally reserved and enjoy humour that can be hard to digest.

Yet at Hult, Charlotte has witnessed plenty of warm, open and supportive professors and peers who know how to brighten up a British rainy day.

“London is at the heart of many large companies and my school can contact many of them and invite them to host student talks.

“I also love that I can interact with so many people from all around the world and build a network that stretches beyond Norway,” she says

And if you’re ever apprehensive about studying abroad, but you want to challenge yourself and experience something new, Charlotte says you should “just jump into it.”

Even if you choose to study online — you’ll be opening yourself up to a diverse platform of learners that will help you grow professionally, virtually and personally.

“So”, says Charlotte, “what’s there to lose?”

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