Photo Credits: Courtesy Photo. Jennifer Li, a first-year undeclared student in the College of Letters and Science at UC Davis, on the Helix Bridge in Singapore.
Li explains the ups and downs of participating in online school in a different time zone
Adjusting to online classes has been challenging for every student, but international students who are living outside of the country have faced a completely different set of challenges. Time zone changes, exam times and COVID-19 rules have affected students residing in different countries, like Jennifer Li, a first-year undeclared student who has been living in Singapore throughout the pandemic.
Li, who grew up shifting between Singapore and Los Angeles, began her time at UC Davis from her childhood bedroom, almost 10,000 miles away from the university. Besides being a freshman at a new school, she said that the 16-hour time difference between Singapore and California is challenging.
“I think the time zones would be the biggest [challenge],” Li said. “Some of the lectures were still live, and I think the discussion sections are super helpful for some classes. I kind of missed out on that a little just because I wasn’t able to wake up at 3 a.m.”
Li also said that, like many students who did not move into the dorms or live off-campus in Davis, it is difficult to get involved, meet other students and form relationships with professors.
“I am a person that learns a lot through discussion, and asking questions is a big thing for me so just not having that live interaction, not even with my peers but with my professors [was challenging],” Li said. “I think human interaction was the biggest thing that was missing.”
Despite being so far away, Li decided to rush a sorority and apply for a position on the wider Panhellenic council. She said that joining these activities virtually has helped her to meet new people and stay up to date with what is happening in Davis.
Though being far from Davis has been hard, Li said that her professors have been very understanding of her situation and have allowed her to do most work asynchronously. Li explained that typically on a school day she will begin by listening to recorded lectures from the night before, since most of her classes are from 12-3 a.m. in Singapore. Then, she’ll spend the afternoon doing homework, assignments and studying for exams, dividing the work by subject. Li said that classes being completely online and mostly asynchronous has been very helpful.
“I think one thing that’s really good about being asynchronous is that I have a lot of freedom for how I want to use my time,” Li said. “I’m not really confined to ‘I have to do this work now,’ so I can plan out what works best for me.”
Though it has been an unconventional experience, Li has found some positives in spending her freshman year of college at home.
“The college workload is so different than high school, and being a first year, it was a lot to adjust to, so having other factors of my life be really familiar was really comforting,” Li said. “It didn’t feel like all of a sudden everything was changing.”
Written by: Katie DeBenedetti — firstname.lastname@example.org