Remote education is nothing more than a necessity the pandemic era has inflicted on most students. Though elementary and middle school students returned to in-person education in Turkey, those in university still have to suffice with online classes as the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a toll on daily life.

For Turkey’s foreign students, it is an extra challenge and comes with mixed feelings. Though some appreciated the opportunity to spend more time with their families, most students agreed that remote education is not as good as in-person, especially due to a language barrier and lack of access to textbooks physically.

Most foreign students are beneficiaries of the Turkey Scholarships, a successful grants program run by the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB). It attracts thousands of students to the country every year. When the universities were shut down last year, they were forced to switch to remote education and some flew home while others preferred to stay. After a long break, universities are gradually being opened, though the majority of classes are being held online.

Azerbaijan’s Laman Suleymanli studies Roman law at Ankara University and is preparing for her upcoming proficiency exam. She returned home when the schools were closed last year and said the pandemic had several “pros and cons” for her.

“I had more time to be with my family, to be closer to my loved ones. I appreciated more how good it is to be able to touch them,” she said.

Suleymanli is working on a project that interprets Turkish laws for the Azerbaijani public. “Remote education was somewhat problematic for me. I had problems like not having access to books and because of lack of infrastructure for a proper remote education,” she told Anadolu Agency (AA) Saturday. On the other hand, she said she was able to find time to read more books while staying home in Azerbaijan.

Kim Seunggwon, a South Korean student of history at Hacettepe University in the capital Ankara, also returned home when the pandemic took hold. Kim regularly shares videos online from his country, mostly empty streets. “I can only go to cafes,” he said.

Tapiwa Last Gilfas Nherera, a Zimbabwean student at Ankara Social Sciences University’s Department of International Relations, said as a foreign student, he faced some obstacles in remote education. “I could not improve my Turkish as much because I cannot meet my Turkish classmates and lecturers in person. I feel like I couldn’t learn anything new. I toil in front of my computer for hours to learn something,” he said. Nherera said he needed to attend in-person activities to improve himself.

“But the pandemic had an advantage for me too. I started learning to play the guitar and found time for physical exercise. I hope this pandemic will be over and we will be back to normal soon. I am bored of being stuck at home,” he said.

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