With the coronavirus pandemic forcing Bocconi to move all classes online, many first-year students face the near-impossible task of experiencing a taste of the Bocconiano life while sitting at home. This article aims to dispel the concerns of these students by offering some advice on how to get the best out of a remote semester.
When I found out I had been accepted to Bocconi, my first reaction was joy — followed closely by horror as I realized I would have to do my very first semester online because of visa restrictions. As I contemplated the drab life of being a remote first year student, fear and anxiety clouded my brain. How would I make any friends? How would I truly feel like a Bocconiano if I wasn’t even on campus? How could I possibly make the best of my university experience?
As classes started, my worst fears seemed to come true. The hubbub of my classmates chatting and laughing in the background as classes were starting taunted me in all my hair-unbrushed, rumpled-pajamas, and eyes-half-closed glory. Ah, to be in a classroom, drinking from the fountain of knowledge or, more likely, ignoring the instructor as I gossiped with those around me. Never before had I so passionately despised the red tape bureaucracy of visa applications.
But then, as with so many other things, technology came to the rescue. This new era of remote learning, while not ideal, does not necessarily have to make us feel less Bocconiani. There are myriads of resources that remote students can utilize to help them adjust to the wonderful and challenging experience of university and Bocconi life.
Maximize Learning Opportunities
Although it may be difficult to feel like a part of the classroom when you’re not actually there, remote students have the option to raise a virtual hand and engage in discussions with the instructor and, to a lesser extent, other students. I’ve found that if you actively follow along with the classroom discussion and ask questions, you automatically begin to feel like a (symbolic) part of the classroom.
It’s always a wise idea to use office hours to connect with your instructors directly. It’s difficult to get one-on-one attention from your professors even when you’re in a classroom, but office hours are a valuable resource that can help any student struggling with remote instruction or grappling with a particular problem.
Perhaps the most integral part of the university experience is the opportunity to get to know and bond with like-minded peers — one that many remote students are fearful of missing out on. I’m glad to say, however, that being remote has not prevented me from interacting with my peers. Our program WhatsApp group chat is constantly being bombarded with messages of us collectively bemoaning about how much work we have to do. Or collectively bemoaning when we get an assignment. Or collectively bemoaning over anything, really. But that never stops us from trying to help out any time a classmate is struggling. Every time someone pops up with a question, 20 different people scramble to give an answer. Google Meets are frequently organized to put our heads together in virtual study sessions and, in the process, get to know each other better. We even organized a virtual aperitif (without the drinks) to connect with one another!
Join Campus Societies
An essential part of any university is its many co-curricular societies and organizations. Fortunately, it’s that time of the year when societies are recruiting new members, and most are open to remote students. With the vast array of societies Bocconi boasts, there’s something for every student (I, myself, am particularly inclined toward the Bocconi Food Association). There’s nothing quite like joining a group of people who have the same interests as you to make you feel like you belong.
Make the Best out of it
Although this might not be the way many of us envisioned our first year at university, remote students have to make the best of what they’ve got. I’ve realized over the past few weeks that there is no single way to be Bocconiano — the most anyone can do is make friends, join clubs and societies, and take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way.