Summer is here, Covid-19 cases are finally declining and some of the restrictions were lifted. For over a year now, GCE students – as everyone else – have been sitting in front of their laptops, clicking from one zoom meeting to the next, with no face-to-face contact to their fellow students. Many students have not even met each other in person before, especially the ones that have started studying in Bayreuth last winter semester. But with summer comes more field work, which currently has been allowed under the Covid-19 regulations. In this context, Gabi, a second semester GCE student, tells us more about how great it is to have some in-person courses again:
“This is about the field work for the Ecological Climatology exercise course. When we met up at the university’s Botanical Garden (EBG) a few weeks ago, I had the chance to meet most of my fellow students for the first time in person. Naturally, I had seen all of them before, at least their faces on camera during online classes. But this was the first time that we were able to be close by each other – with the required 1.5m distance of course. As we made a circle and tried to make small talk, the tension was broken when we had to perform a corona quick test. We all sat on the ground and started with that, we joked and helped each other with the instructions. Results: all negative! Now… let’s head to the measurement stations!
Sitting in the grass in a circle around the professor – some of us taking notes, others just paying attention – even the fact that we all were wearing masks was not a problem. We answered questions and discussed the topics. While we learned about how to set up the climate station equipment and how it works, we could remember the concepts we had already learned in the online seminar of the same course.
Groups were made, and we assembled our own weather station. Talking to the classmates about family, friends and what we will eat later for dinner in such a relaxed environment, felt like we didn’t have the restrictions, and I am sure we all enjoyed being in the field and having an in-person class for the first time after 6 months. When the measurement stations were all set up and the equipment connected, we finished up the class to go home and enjoy the rest of the sunny day in a happy mood. After finally meeting my classmates in person, I left with the promise to bring cookies with me next time.
Two weeks later, we met outside the Botanical Garden, did the corona quick tests again, formed groups and went off to the field. It was raining a little bit, but we all were prepared with umbrellas and rain jackets at hand. We took some notes, which was tricky with the umbrella in one hand and the notebook and pencil in the other. We discussed the topics we got introduced to in the online class and we understood even more what the aim of our work will be. Within our groups, we dissembled the meteorological stations we had set up last time, and we took the information recorded to be analysed as part of our homework: errors and statistical differences. We shared some cookies, of course, and as the weather was getting less rainy, it was already time to go home.
Time flies when you’re having fun! We will meet again with our groups to decide a new spot in the Botanical Garden to put the weather stations and compare the measurements – hopefully, when it’s sunnier. As the next class will be online, we will meet again within one month to assemble the stations in a different terrain. Let’s see where the groups will choose the locations in the big premises of the EBG!”
Besides the Ecological Climatology field work, students were also able to attend a few other practical courses in person this semester. Over the last couple of weeks, for instance, the harvest of some global experiments in Disturbance Ecology have been taking place. There, biomass has been harvested and sorted from various experiments, mostly concerning the effects of climate change and other disturbances on grasslands. Another fun in-person course is the botanical excursions that take place on a weekly basis and in which plant determination is learned first-hand. All in all, it is great to finally be outside in the field and get the chance to interact with fellow students and lecturers in person again!