I am Diego Mejía from Colombia (South America), I’ve been in Japan since 2010. First I came to start doctoral studies in mathematics at Kobe University, then I worked 2 years in Austria as a researcher, and finally got my job in Shizuoka University on 2016.
At this point it will be about 3 months we have been with many restrictions due to the “corona” situation. It has challenged us all, specially students who are now adapting to new ways of studying. The graduation ceremony was cancelled and we didn’t have the chance to say farewell to our students who did their best for 4 years (or more), and we also lost the chance to give the warmest welcome to our new students.
I’ve been working from home since the state of emergency was declared. This has implied making most of our work online. In some sense I’ve been used to this because of the frequent online research meetings with researchers from abroad, but I cannot get used to not going to university, much less to see it silent when I go, without the voice of the students (the reason to be of our university).
At first, I was worried about classes and seminars, whether the online transition would work well. I am very happy now that I can say that it is working, mainly because of the efforts students have put for this transition. I believe Japanese students are strong, they have to endure long hours of study to prepare for the DNC test and for the entrance examinations at each university, so it should not be surprising that they are prepared for all the challenges they are enduring at the moment.
The main feature of University is “independence”: students are mostly responsible of managing their time, and of the direction they want to give to their studies. At this point, they become capable to learn may subjects by themselves, while professors guide them by attending their questions and showing them possible paths. I am sure the present situation will allow younger students to achieve this independence very quickly.
I dream that, at the end of this academic year, I can see our students graduate and celebrate with them. Also, I cannot wait to see the faces of the students I’m supposed to meet frequently.