Students are being hit hard by the shifts brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Sunniva Kristine Jaspers Grønnslett (29) and Ideal Hoxha (30) both need to adjust to the changes brought by the pandemic and a whole new experience as parents to their ten weeks old baby.
Hoxha comes from Kosovo and Grønnslett comes from Norway. Both of them are students at the University of Bergen «UiB».
Weeks before the delivery, Grønnslett decided to take leave on her part-time job, however, she opted to continue her study. After two weeks of the delivery, Grønnslett had to do the internship, which was taking much toll on her.
– It was really hard. I had to do the internship in the hospital when the baby was so little.
For a particular reason, she feels grateful for the digital study.
– I am happy with Corona since we have to shift to the digital lectures. I don’t think I would manage to go to the university while having a newborn baby, in that sense, I am grateful.
Managing financially despite the layoff
Last year Hoxha was being laid off because of the pandemic. He didn’t get unemployment benefits from NAV, since he was not a permanent residence yet.
– Financially, it could be hard. The student loan didn’t help a lot, Hoxha tells.
Hoxha and Grønnslett consider being a student and a parent as a high-demand role, and it highly relies on communication and cooperation with the partner. According to them, teamwork is the key to successfully balancing the multirole.
– I have to take the night shifts, while she wakes up early in the morning to take care of the morning routine, says Hoxha.
Both agree that time management is important but always a constant problem when being students.
– The endless thought of exams and tasks while taking care of the baby are one of the challenging parts for students with parenting responsibility, Hoxha says.
Grønnslett then shares about the dreadful mother guilt feels.
– I think all mothers at some point experience guilt. It happens sometimes, I wonder if the decisions that I make to focus on the study may influence the child in the long run.
In addition to that, Hoxha emphasizes the importance of staying calm.
– Sometimes we reach our breaking point. But, remain calm and accept the reality are ways that generally help me go through.
Experiencing unsupportive student advisor
Grønnslett talks about how she once encountered unsupportive inputs from one of her student advisors in the faculty.
– I felt uncomfortable hearing my counselor didn’t support my decision to continue my internship and study. She kept on suggesting that I should take a one year break from my studies.
Grønnslett wished that the university could advise and handle the matter better.
In response, Ørjan Leren, the chief manager of education in UiB, states that he was sorry for the issue and encourages the student to talk about the matter.
– I can’t comment on any individual cases, but we are sorry if the student feels that more should have been done in advising her in the matter. She is welcome to contact us about this.
Grønnslett mentions that UiB provides exam period extension for a mother who is nursing.
– I get the extension for breastfeeding time during the exam, which is nice.
UiB also provides flexibility for students who experience difficulty regarding examination and assessment situations.
Sammen arrangements for a student with parenting responsibility
Sammen has various arrangements to offer for parents-students, according to Bente Brusdal, the head of Sammen international kindergarten at Fantoft Gard.
– Sammen is aware that students with parental responsibility may experience challenges from time-to-time. Hence, we provide extra support to help them manage.
The students will be prioritized for childcare in Sammen kindergartens. Brusdal points out that the kindergarten opening time in some ways provides flexibility to help them.
– The kindergartens provide help for students who are having a hard time during the study, when the kids are sick, we offer childcare, Brusdal explains.
In addition, students get free guidance and help from Station Health Engen. Pregnant students and students with parenting responsibilities can get guidance from counselors at Sammen Mental Health. They will also get informed about the rights that they have.
– Students with parental responsibility, especially International students may need help to adapt to the new situation in Norway. We are here to be their close contact. We try our best to cooperate and find solutions, Brusdal tells.
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