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The Great Battle: International Students Versus Time Differences

By: Natasha Esterhuizen

After finally pressing the submit button on that midterm due at 10 PM EST, the time in the corner of your laptop catches your eye. It’s 6 AM here in Abu Dhabi. Exhaustion washes over you as you know you won’t be able to get a proper night’s sleep before the sunlight bursts in.

Still drained, you attempt to carry out a regular day of completing assigned work and catching up on readings without looking like a zombie, only to be met with classes that end at 2 AM. Then you rush to get a few hours of sleep before that 5 AM group project meeting because unfortunately, it’s the only time all your group members were free. The next day, you get up and do it all over again.

It’s a vicious cycle.

While some perceive remote learning from home as cushy or relaxing, completing online courses at a university that is on the other side of the globe is not as easy as they make it out to be.

One of my colleagues, who wishes to remain anonymous, is a first-year Fine Arts major at Concordia University. Currently, she is residing in Dubai after leaving Montreal due to the pandemic. She claims the healthy balance she tries to keep between schoolwork, her job and her social life is non-existent.

“I tried to talk to one of my professors on getting an extension for a due date on an assignment but she told me to learn to manage my time better.”

She continued to say that it baffles her to see how professors show “not a drop of compassion towards first-year university students, especially those living across the world, are working, and doing their best to succeed in their courses.”

Another aspect many students are struggling with is lack of interaction between their fellow students and professors. International students usually have to wait longer for replies from professors as the time difference creates a barrier. Responses and interactions with classmates are similarly delayed and limited.

A friend of mine, Remi Lavoie, is a first-year Political Science major also living in Abu Dhabi. He has chosen to keep the name of his university anonymous. Lavoie said that one of the most difficult things he has encountered is not being able to connect with his professors and other students.

“I’ve very rarely gotten a chance to socialize and communicate with other students in my classes (about school work and otherwise), which is part of an education that I think every student needs.”

Unfortunately, international students everywhere are prone to the disadvantages that come with the time differences between where they reside and where their university is located. This will continue to be the case until international students are able to cease remote learning, and actively attend the cities and universities they dreamed of attending across the world.

Natasha Esterhuizen

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