A personal experience as international student and intern

Sana Golbazi shares in the following her personal Covid-19 experience in Finland as international student and reflects on her position as research assistant within our project.

I am Sanaz Golbazi from Iran and I worked as a research assistant in the EqualISM project. I finished my master’s degree at the University of Turku in Education and Learning during the Pandemic outbreak in Finland. Regarding my experiences as an international student during COVID-19 and while living alone in Finland, I have many stories to share. Nevertheless, describing all my experiences is beyond boredom and website space. Therefore, I will suffice to mention the most important impact of this pandemic to my life, the financial impact which has affected many students. Unfortunately, I lost my previous job as soon as Corona started, and I had to stay home during lockdown without a job and salary. So it does not seem impossible to imagine how critical and difficult the situation was for me. Additionally, my parents had been infected by Corona and being worried for them increased my anxiety in 2020 in a way that I could not focus to finish my thesis. However, with the help of YTH psychologist I could manage to overcome the depression and control my mind.

During the pandemic, I was applying to different places to get a job but since my field of studies is mostly related to teaching and schools, the managers avoided to hire new personnel due to the crisis. So I used to get many rejection emails every day. Fortunately, one of my best friends, Magdalena who was cooperating with EqualISM group of researchers, informed me that the project needs some assistants in summer. Due to my difficult time during the outbreak, I thought with myself that this job opportunity has two benefits for me. Apart from the financial aid that was a big part of my motivation, I could empathize with the interviewees and understand them better. Therefore, I decided to write to Suvi and Kalypso and show my interest to the project. Of course, they were more than kind with me and let me to cooperate in this project.

I started my job in June but because of my naughty cat, who does not let me to work with laptop at home, I asked for a room at university and I was very lucky to get an office. The first month of work was exciting since it was long time that I have not been at university and now I was able to have an office and to work on a project that I felt connected to. The research helped me to understand how other people had experience the Corona pandemic and at some point, I noticed that I was not the only person who had difficulties especially with financial issues.

My main responsibility was transcribing interviews in addition to reading the articles and writing a summary. The literature review task gave me the opportunity to get familiar more with the scope of EqualISM research project and understand it in a better way. The literature review was not difficult at all but the transcription was challenging at some point. Since all of the interviews had been done remotely, the voice quality of the participants was not clear. Therefore, I had to listen more than ten times to be able to recognize the words.

Generally speaking, cooperating in this project was an enjoyable task and I was feeling comfortable with every other things. I was fortunate that could work with such nice colleagues and friendly environment. We had online meetings at least twice a week to talk together either about the project improvement or about non-project related issues. The discussion during the online meetings about the project helped me to organize my activities better. Even during the meetings we talked about issues other than the project, I could see we had many ideas to share and learn from each other. Additionally we had online writing retreat sessions for two hours per week that could help me to focus on the task and being more productive in my activities. Apart from that, it was a good motivator for me to see other colleagues still active and working during summer. Although I could not do much in analyzing the data due to my short internship period, but in the end I am impatiently looking forward to the results of this research.