Being an international student comes with its perks, that’s for sure. I wear this part of my identity like a badge. It’s given me a fresh perspective and different angles on how to approach discussions. Because I’m studying from home, introductions will always stand out, with the almost mandatory “What’s the time there?” question.
When I realized I’d have to start my very first year of college from my parent’s house in New Delhi sometime in June, I wanted to throw a temper tantrum. It had been looming over my head since the end of March and COVID-19 had finally caught up to us, conveniently smashing my dreams of starting college abroad into tiny, little pieces. Studying from home, at the time, meant missing out on traveling to the United States, shopping for my new room and living on my own for the first time ever.
Now, it means something completely different. With the whole school going online, I don’t feel as bad about missing out on certain interactions or experiences. What’s different is living between Eastern and Indian standard times and calling my meals one, two and three instead of breakfast, lunch and dinner. It gives compromising on your sleep schedule a new meaning. When I’d stay up until 5 a.m., it was usually to surrender my brain to YouTube videos and BuzzFeed quizzes. Now, I have classes from 7 p.m. until 3 a.m. and I find myself actually having to apply myself.
Apart from uprooting my whole circadian rhythm and planting her in American soil, the worst part of my experience is the horrifying anxiety that comes with assignments and readings. I wouldn’t say I have a lot of practice with the collegiate method of teaching and I definitely don’t have any practice with online schooling. My finals ended before coronavirus reached India, so I had no idea what was coming my way. Currently, I’m constantly suspicious of any forgotten missed assignments, wondering if they’re hiding in the modules or if I forgot to write something down midclass. My due dates and I do this little dance every time I go over them where I attempt a mental calculation of what the due date would mean in Indian Standard Time and then giving up and resorting to Googling it.
Starting college several time zones away might not have been exactly what I thought it’d be, but it’s definitely harder than what I expected. It’s one thing to resort to remote instruction, but it’s another thing to have a “9 a.m.” at 7:30 p.m. However, I do think that with a little bit of extra effort, the right kind of organization and support from my family and professors, I know I can make this the best remote collegiate experience an international student can have during a pandemic.