Comenius University News

Spanish student Diego at the dormitories: I improved my cooking skills during Corona

He came to Slovakia for the first time when he was granted Erasmus+ at Comenius University in Bratislava and he didn’t have any problems getting used to the country from the very beginning. “When you come from a country like Spain, with a very open culture and great relationships between people (the effect of having a “more Latino” culture), you could think that the countries of central and eastern Europe are not as open. I imagined that this stereotype would not be true. Once you arrive in Slovakia and get to know the people a little, you know that this prejudice is not true,” says Diego Mosquera Otera. He arrived at the CU under the Erasmus+ Programme to study economy at the Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences. He had to stay at the dormitory in Mlynská dolina as well when the pandemic started.


28. 05. 2020 13.03 hod.
By: CU Public Relations Office

How did you experience the situation of the new pandemic?

I was in Prague with some friends when the situation in Slovakia worsened. When I left Bratislava, the situation was normal and we still had classes, but during those 4-5 days outside everything suddenly changed. I received many emails from the University and the Embassy, false information was spreading everywhere. When I returned from Prague, 80% of foreign students and most of my friends had already returned to their countries. We heard a lot of false news that they were going to force us to leave or that we would be forced to stay in quarantine. Many people got scared and left, thinking that they could come back in 2-3 weeks. I decided to stay.

Why?

In a situation like that one has to think clearly and choose the best option. I knew the best option for me was to stay in Slovakia, since the situation in Spain was incomparably worse. The Government and the University recommended us to stay here to avoid movements within Spain and stop the expansion of COVID-19.

Spain was one of the most affected countries by the pandemic. How did you perceive this situation regarding your country?

Spain has been very affected by COVID-19 and continues to suffer the consequences. Looking at the situation from the outside, one might think that the measures and the speed with which they were taken were not enough, especially taking the example of Italy. However, I believe that a crisis of this nature is very difficult to predict. Precautions could have been taken before, such as the closing of borders, but in such a large country, passed through by so many foreigners and tourists, it is very difficult to apply this type of measures when there are few cases. I also have to say that the behavior of Spanish society during the state of alarm has been exemplary, and this allowed the situation to considerably improve.

How did you manage social distancing at the dormitories?

Everything was fine. The situation was quite under control here, and it was allowed to leave the residence, observing the necessary sanitary precautions. In Spain, people had been in their homes for more than a month and a half without being able to leave, so I am sure that my decision to stay here was right. The residence's restaurants were closed so was trying to improve my cooking skills.

What was your daily routine in quarantine?

This situation radically changed my routine and everyday life. I had more or less similar schedule every day, I studied and relaxed. I got up early to do some sports, then participated in classes, or went to the supermarket, so that I’d get a bit of some fresh air. And in the afternoon, I worked, studied, or did something with the few people from Spain left in the residence. We usually watched movies in the evening.

The whole university switched to remote learning. Are you satisfied with the

form of online education at your faculty?

At first, it was more complicated, but that is natural. Everything happened so suddenly, and it was impossible to be prepared for something like that. Every week the organization improved and now everything works quite well. In most of the subjects, they send us weekly assignments to make sure we keep up with the course. The problem is that studying in this way is more complicated and sometimes it is difficult to keep the same rhythm and have the same motivation as in a normal course. We primarily use MS Teams, do online presentations, we use questionnaires and videoconferences, we do more research work focused on the online search for information, etc.

How would you compare online study at the CU with your home university in Vigo, Spain?

My friends told me that the system of my University is working quite well. We already had an online platform before. On your screen you can see a virtual university with all the faculties and classrooms, each of them has an entrance code, which the teacher sends to his / her students. They have exams in these days, everything has been working so far and there haven’t been any problems yet.  You can that we used regularly, and the change could be made easier. Online study at the CU works well, too.

Situation is getting better in the world. What are your plans when the life returns to normal?

My idea is to return to Spain at the end of June, as I planned since the beginning of the course. I hope that by that date there will be no problem travelling, the situation will be better, and I will be able to see my family and friends.