My name is Nelu Jayaweera, and I am currently doing a BSc in psychology at the University of Southampton. This summer, I chose to broaden my knowledge by enrolling in the virtual social psychology course held by the University of Frankfurt.
At first, I was reluctant in applying as I was worried that I won’t be getting the same experience as previous years. However, due to the current situation it was inevitable that the summer school had to take place virtually. In the end I was a glad I took part as now I have gained more knowledge, can use this experience to enrich my CV and made friends from other countries who share the same interests as me.
Before starting the course, the University of Frankfurt held a welcome zoom session. This was split in two parts: in the first half we meet up with our ‘course class’ and there, professors and students were introduced and in the second half was a general meeting. Here, we were given a little virtual tour of the town of Frankfurt which I think was a nice idea as it gave us relatively similar experience to prior years.
Lessons began on the next day. The lectures were well-organized and interesting, with lecturers who were highly active and involved in their presentations. The professors were always willing to assist, and if someone in the class didn’t feel comfortable speaking out, they gave their email and contact information with us so we could contact them whenever we wanted However, this was not the case for me because my class was comprised of a small number of people, allowing us to quickly bond. Many of the instructors expressed an interest in keeping in touch at the end of the course and informed us we may contact them if we ever needed assistance, such as with our dissertations.
Unfortunately, one of the disadvantages of virtual learning is having to sit in front of the computer for lengthy periods of time. The University of Frankfurt attempted to address this by organising a variety of extracurricular events to keep us busy throughout the week and provide a break from studying. I was able to take part in the tea and break session where we all drank tea and spoke about various subjects; it was soothing and a great opportunity to learn more about people and make new friends. I also attempted some yoga for the first time. It was challenging since I’m not flexible, but it was enjoyable because I wasn’t the only one who struggled.
We had a brief exam on the last day of the course to evaluate our comprehension of the topics, which we had to pass in order to finish the programme. Thankfully, the exam consisted of multiple-choice questions and was open book, so it was not stressful. To end the course, we were given a certificate of completion and an end of the course meeting to evaluate our experience and say good-bye to the professors and classmates.
I have to admit that the experience really exceeded my expectations. However, there were times where it felt exhaustive, but time flew by the 2 weeks and before I knew it, I gained many interpersonal skills and valuable experience to add to my CV. I do recommend future students to consider this opportunity since it is well worth the time and effort!