New Zealand’s borders have been closed for nearly two years due to the pandemic, and until recently not even citizens of the country could leave. Malina, though, was able to make up for everything by taking virtual classes.
She happened across the Summer School of International Law and Human Rights on her university’s website; the programme interested her, and she immediately applied. She spent every day nearly all July, when it is winter in New Zealand, together with 18 other students at online lectures that began at 9:00 a.m. Central European Time, that is, at 9:00 p.m. in New Zealand.
Besides attending classes every day, she also had to read dozens of pages daily and get ready for discussions. At the end of summer school, she had to write a final essay and complete a group project, which she did with Swiss students. Given the large time difference between the two countries, it was no easy task.
“The course was time-consuming, but I really liked it. We had excellent teachers, and I enjoyed their lectures, which were taught from a completely different perspective from what I am used to in Auckland. Even though classes were virtual, they were still pretty interactive, and I met students from Switzerland, Australia, Britain, and Poland. I am still in touch with some of them, and I plan on visiting,” says Malina.
From summer school right to winter school
Malina liked this online programme taught from the other side of the world so much that this January she spent another three weeks at the Winter School of International Relations and Threats to Global Security, even though it was during summer holidays in New Zealand, where the academic year begins in February.
“Lots of people I know were surprised that I was doing extra schoolwork over summer holidays and that I was spending every summer evening, from nine to eleven, attending virtual lectures, but the topic of the programme interested me. I met new people from Australia, Zambia, Iran, and Ukraine. I also earned, in relatively short time, six credits, so I didn’t hesitate to sign up,” says Malina.
She says the winter school ended up being more difficult than the first course because she was not as knowledgeable about international relations and political science as her classmates, but nonetheless she still found the course to be very interesting and she enjoyed seeing how her fellow students viewed different topics.
She also appreciated the diversity of the lectures: she learned about climate conflicts, cyber threats, energy security, and the changing nature of war. Thanks to a virtual trip to the UN Office in Vienna, she got to learn more about human trafficking, a topic that has interested her for a long time.
“I got a lot out of both virtual schools, and they made up, at least a little bit, for the inability to travel and meet people from different countries, which is important for me because after I finish school I want to work abroad and – because I lived in Canada and Australia for some time – I miss being in an international environment. It’s great that Masaryk University organizes such courses, and I am looking forward to visiting the university in person. You see, Brno is not so far for me. I am originally from Germany, where my whole family lives,” she explains.
International students can apply for summer school
Masaryk University held the first virtual schools in summer 2020 in response to the pandemic and travel restrictions. There was surprisingly great interest in these courses and they proved to be successful. So far, MU has organized 10 virtual summer and winter schools that have been attended by more than 150 students from 34 countries and the organizers have received very positive feedback from participants.
Masaryk University will organize a virtual summer school this summer as well, international students can apply until 15 May for the summer school International Relations and Threats to Global Security that will be held online from 20 June to 8 July. Apart from that, students can apply also for in-person summer schools.