'Online education is pretty demotivating', says Andreas from Australia

The hidden faces of students in their room


Working at home is not just a problem in the Netherlands. In this photo reportage, the incognito lifestyle of studying at home is explored in four different countries. From a large student house in The Netherlands to a small dorm in Australia: everywhere students are faced with solitary living behind closed doors, while working on their futures.

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All across the world students are tucked away in their rooms, studying from behind screens and lacking real-life social interactions. But does it work, studying at home? And how do students really experience it? To answer these questions, the doors to the student rooms in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Norway, and Australia will be opened briefly.

THE NETHERLANDS - “It’s shit. Or wait, should I express it in appropriate language?” Takes a moment to think. “I don’t have the idea that I am able to reach my full potential. It’s noisy here. I have my window slightly open for some fresh air, but schoolkids biking by and people on motorcycles; it all distracts me. Every day.” Louis, 26. Large student house.(Photo Noah Moeys)

THE NETHERLANDS - “Studying at home requires a lot more self-discipline. I think it is even more important that you study what you enjoy. All the fun, social aspects of studying fall away so the core of your course needs to be what you enjoy, because there is nothing else.” Anna, 21. Large student house. (Photo Noah Moeys)

UNITED KINGDOM - “I didn't have big expectations, but it has been a quite nice experience so far. It's definitely possible to teach and learn music on Zoom. Here in Bristol I do a joint honours Production and Live Performance Guitar course. In June I moved here from Lithuania, and it would be a lot easier to bond with people if classes were on campus, but I guess it’s the best alternative available.” Simas, 20. Student house with five friends, one hour walk from downtown Bristol. (Photo Willemijn Dennekam)

NORWAY – “When Norwegian authorities declared the lockdown, I was living off the grid in an abandoned house without electricity. I was entirely dependent on charging my devices at the university, connecting to WIFI there and even showering. You can imagine what studying was like when all that disappeared... After some time I had to give up on my studies: the solar panel I had was not providing enough energy to write my term papers and follow online lectures. But because I quit my bachelor, I lost all student loans and was living off of my savings. A couple of weeks later I received help from social services and got into a house with electricity and water. Now I’m back at uni. And I’m good.” Ole, 25. Social housing with 10 flatmates. (Photo  Ole Fagerheim)

UNITED KINGDOM – “People on the streets are not sticking to social distancing, but education is almost completely online. Just last Saturday I was making my way home and actually had to push people aside in order to pass through the streets. Our government was quite relaxed this summer, opening up restaurants and actually sponsoring people to eat out. I think that’s why nobody takes it very seriously here. I study Music Business, in Bristol. I’m allowed onto campus in a group of five students once a week for my course called Sound Recording, but that’s it. We’re lucky, because the larger universities such as Oxford and Cambridge have issued a statement that they’ll be online until next summer. Remaining motivated is the biggest challenge of online learning.” Willemijn, 21. Student house with five flatmates, one hour walk from downtown Bristol. (Photo Willemijn Dennekam)

AUSTRALIA – “Universities are closed because gatherings of over thirty people are prohibited. Online education is pretty demotivating. I’m in my first year now and I hope I’ll pass. When I moved here in March I had exactly one month of offline lectures before the lockdown started. That’s when I met most people I hang out with now. But I guess life is pretty normal here. We go to parties and I met my girlfriend at a barbeque mid-lockdown.” Andreas, 20. Small apartment on-campus with one other flatmate.(Photo Andreas Keereman)

THE NETHERLANDS - “With 14 flatmates, a team of construction workers outside my window and a lack of concentration, it’s exhausting,” Katelijn, 25. Large student house. (Photo Noah Moeys)


AUSTRALIA – “University online is pretty bad. At the start of the year I was so excited to be starting my course but now we have been online for the last eight months and I'm getting over it. After sitting in my room watching a screen for the whole year I just become so bored. In Marine Science we would have had a heap of practical labs and field trips, but everything got cancelled so we don't get the same content as we normally would. The worst part is how hypocritical it is. In Australia you can go to a stadium and watch the footy with 34.000 other people, but you can't sit in a lecture theatre with your cohort of about 100 students.” Kaitlin, 18. Living with parents, brother and dog in a house in Gold Coast, Queensland.(Photo Andreas Keereman)

THE NETHERLANDS - “I’m having a bad day, so my opinion is not too balanced. I thought I was allowed to work from campus for two days a week from now on, but when I arrived at university today they told me this wasn’t the case. The thing is, I’ve never spoken to someone about my master’s thesis in real life. Someone who knows what it’s about.” Daan, 23.(Photo Noah Moeys)


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