Macromedia International: Empathy counts in times of COVID-19

The International Office Berlin has given a warm welcome to all new international students joining the Berlin campus this fall. Despite COVID-19 restrictions, most of the 120 new international students have already arrived in Berlin and taken up their studies in the English Master’s and Bachelor’s programmes. With around 45 % international students coming from all parts of the world, the Berlin campus is by far the most international Macromedia campus. International office managers Dr. Edda Luckas and Gunay Abidova reflect on what’s making the difference during the onboarding phase.

Represented by Dr. Edda Luckas and Gunay Abidova, the Berlin International Office offers a wide array of services for international students, from the time before their arrival until they finish their studies at Macromedia. These services help students have a smooth start in Germany and get settled quickly at Macromedia University. Services include cooperation with external housing providers to assist new arrivals in finding accommodation, assistance with authority procedures and a buddy programme. Local student buddies, many of whom themselves international students, are happy to lend a helping hand to new arrivals and to explore Berlin with them. The International Office also works in close cooperation with the local Macromedia Career Service and faculty and regularly supports a variety of career and academic events for international students.

Empathy and cultural sensitivity are of utmost importance during COVID-19 pandemic

No question, COVID-19 has impacted the range of regular activities that had to move online in November. According to Luckas, empathy and intercultural sensitivity are highly appreciated when coping with the challenges international students are currently facing. This concerns the entire international student journey but is most important for starters. Accordingly and within the framework of the recently introduced blended learning concept, Macromedia University decided that onsite focus should be kept as long as possible while other courses had to move online. “Our officers alongside faculty pay special attention to building interpersonal relationships to make our new arrivals feel as comfortable as possible,” Dr. Edda Luckas comments. “With streaming services of its courses, Macromedia also ensures that students who couldn’t arrive at the campus in time are able to participate in all activities. Although we cannot entirely substitute our regular activities digitally, we see students highly appreciate our efforts, and this is what counts.”

Regular activities offered by the International Office

A longstanding focus of the International Office have been intercultural events that serve to bring international students in contact with German and Berlin culture and, not least, Macromedia’s German student body. Over the semesters, international and national students alike enjoyed International Evenings, Christmas parties and other campus get-togethers as well as boat trips, castle tours and city walks in Berlin and neighbouring Potsdam. Such intercultural leisure events are of great benefit to both international and national students as they bring all students as well as faculty and staff together in a relaxing, fun atmosphere. In the words of Gunay Abidova, “at Macromedia University we greatly appreciate the manifold perspectives international students bring to us from all parts of the world and we’re highly interested in listening to them and also learning from them.”

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