I am happy to be studying in this century

My first ever university exam period has come to a successful end. Essays have been finished, tests taken and subjects for the following year registered.

And I have to note that at this time, where the first year is over, I have come to an important realization: I am really grateful that fate has allowed me to study in the twenty-first century, an age of perpetual technological evolution and easily-accessible information. I do not belong among the sceptics who contend that our generation would not be able to gain study materials “the old way”, i.e. through visiting libraries and archives in person, committing oneself to seemingly never-ending enquiries after the sought source, and the ensuing note-taking with a pen and paper. From a purely methodological perspective we would certainly manage: after all, we are still sometimes required to work with primary resources which are non-electronic. Still, without the “technological crutch” we would lose a significant portion of the effectiveness we have been used to and even grown accustomed to.

It is my personal example from the now-ended exam period which proves the significance of modern technologies (not only) in university studies. Writing an analysis of the ongoing Greek debt crisis in German, and on top of that 2500 words long? Nearly impossible without turning to online translators frequently, my relatively advanced knowledge of the language notwithstanding. The mere image of how much time I would have to devote to writing the same paper if I were to rely solely on paper dictionaries makes my nauseous. I would probably not be writing this post now and would still be immersed in the situation in southern Europe. By the same token, preparing for the sociology exam would have been much more demanding if I had not had materials from other world-leading universities covering the same topic at my disposal. Thanks to the recent proliferation of the so-called Mass Open Online Courses, I could learn more about the theories of Marx, Weber or Durkheim at Yale University without ever leaving my cozy London flat. Not only is this way of learning through new technologies fast, cheap and comfortable, but it also allows students to compensate for possible shortcomings of the course at his own alma mater. I am more or less sure that it were online courses which have saved my result from the sociology exam. Thanks to them, I did not have to be relying exclusively on the unfortunate arrangement of our professors’ lectures. And I still succeeded. Similarly, online translators has allowed me to turn in the German essay in time and a fair shape.

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