The flexibility of online classes allows for education from any location
Education has taken a new course with remote learning this year, allowing the traditional on-campus experience to become more open-ended and flexible. There is no longer a set location for students, as they can access classes from anywhere with a reliable source of WiFi. Some UC Davis students view these circumstances as an opportunity to live somewhere new, beyond Davis or their respective hometowns.
Kate Collini, a third-year human development major, is living in Modesto, Calif. this quarter. Originally from Los Angeles, Collini decided to live in Modesto for the quarter to be with her significant other.
She is not only adjusting to remote learning, but to being a college student, as this is her first quarter back after taking a leave of absence seven years ago. Despite the time spent away, this quarter has run smoothly, and she has made new connections despite online barriers.
“I am actually incredibly shocked at how well this quarter has gone,” Collini said via email. “I’ve always been an outgoing Leo who makes friends amid any and every atmosphere, and this time, apparently, was no different. In those little [breakout] rooms during class I’d vibe with a person or two and we’d quickly exchange personal contact info, and some of those people I text more than my relatives.”
Chantal Deslauriers, a third-year communication and art history double major, lives in Hamburg, Germany. While she grew up in the U.S., her family moved to Hamburg when she began college at UC Davis. Deslauriers first moved to Hamburg last Spring Quarter when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, joining her family in Germany during the uncertain time. She has continued to live in Hamburg ever since, choosing to be close to her family during the pandemic rather than returning to Davis.
“I feel like a lot of people that go to Davis, they have their family nearby, and they’re able to sort of visit because it makes sense,” Deslauriers said. “It’s a UC, and most of the people that go there are from California so their families live nearby. But for me, it’s sort of a question of like, ‘Do I want to be with my family or do I want to be in Davis?’ It’s not like I can have both and so in this case, I just decided to be with my family.”
There is a nine hour time difference between Hamburg and Davis, making live lectures and deadlines a different experience for Deslauriers. While her Spring Quarter schedule resulted in listening to a live lecture at 10:40 p.m., Deslauriers has planned to make this quarter run smoothly despite the different time zones.
“I basically, because it’s nine hours ahead, just picked classes that are mostly asynchronous,” Deslauriers said. “And then if they have discussion times, I just picked the earliest morning one that [started] at 8 a.m. typically, which is 5 p.m. in the afternoon here. So it’s worked out pretty well for this quarter.”
While she was able to plan her classes to accommodate her schedule this quarter, Deslauriers shared she doesn’t think it’s something she could realistically keep up for the rest of her time at Davis. She described her experience as a “double-edged sword,” as it involves both highlights and lowlights.
“One thing that I did notice that I’ve honestly found really enjoyable is having the entire day to just do my work, and then to have all my classes and stuff at night when I’m sort of burnt out from the day,” Deslauriers said. “I can just passively take in information and stuff and participate without needing to write an essay or anything because I have the day to do that.”
Her biggest advice to students planning on learning remotely from a new location is to focus on scheduling. In particular, Deslauriers emphasized the importance of developing a consistent schedule that adds structure and rhythm to the school week. While staying organized is important, Deslauriers shared the importance of being patient with yourself through these unpredictable times.
“I think a really important part of scheduling your time is also knowing when to be flexible with it, because sometimes things just don’t always work the way you plan or you just don’t feel like doing that thing, and I think that’s really okay,” Deslauriers said. “I think it’s just about being aware of both the importance of having a plan and the importance of adjusting that as need be. This is a really difficult time for everyone, and you have to take care of yourself first and your mental health and health in order to be able to do your work well.”
Nina Steinkemper, a third-year design and communication double major, is planning on living in Lake Tahoe with two of her friends this Winter Quarter. During her time there, Steinkemper hopes to also work at a ski resort, one of the main reasons she decided to move for the quarter.
Although she revealed a slight sense of motivation to avoid a winter season in Davis, Steinkemper’s decision was mainly influenced by her desire to gain new experiences.
“I think winters in Davis are not the best season here,” Steinkemper said. “I think it’s not even that much that I don’t want to be a Davis. I think it’s just that I’d really like to […] get better at skiing, meet new people and kind of have an experience that I don’t think I would ever have otherwise.”
In terms of juggling school, work and adjusting to a new location, Steinkemper plans on being mindful of the number of units she takes and adjusting her schedule later if need be. She encourages other students to try out a new location too, while maintaining a backup plan if things don’t work out completely.
“If you think that you might have a better time somewhere else than wherever you are right now, and it seems like a COVID-safe option, and still manageable with school, I think it’s definitely great to try it out,” Steinkemper said. “I think having some sort of a backup to fall back onto, like to being able to move back home, or being able to move back somewhere just in case the new location isn’t ideal to be balancing school with—I think kind of having that to bounce back on or fall back on is a great option.”
Written by: Nora Farahdel — firstname.lastname@example.org