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5 Easy Ways To Survive College in Another Time Zone

Ayusha Mahajan

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Person laying face down on a bed, sleeping, glasses laying on a book on the bed.

Scheduling time and sleep from the other side of the world can be made easier with some helpful tips and tricks. Classes are online, assignments have doubled and international students have had to disperse across the globe. A sizable number of colleges and universities have an international student population.

Forced to move back to their local countries, or begin college from home, these students have been presented with two options. They must either take a break from education or continue their studies online from across the world. The ones that do, have had to deal with a number of logistical hurdles with the biggest one being: differing time zones.

About 34 percent of students who recently took a survey about living abroad during COVID-19, reported hesitancy in moving abroad for college. Their main reason for this was that they were waiting for the number of COVID-19 cases to drop first.

However, adapting to this unprecedented circumstance is not impossible. Here are five ways that may help overcome time zone differences in college creating a unique schedule. Don’t worry if the sun is not on your side, help is available in many different forms.

1.  Register for schedule-friendly lectures.

Try and avoid an inverted week by registering for lectures that take place between 8 am and 10 pm in your local time. This will require you to do some calculation and come to a compromise for choosing the best time slot that won’t have you awake at odd hours. If this is not possible, reconsider your need for the course at this time – if it’s an elective that you can take in the following semesters, it might be worth it to postpone taking it until the Spring semester or next school year.

Many colleges are aware of time zone differences and may also have time slots reserved for international students that you can take advantage of. But, since this may not be the case for every student, there may not be a way around staying up late at night or getting up at the crack of dawn.

2.  Sleep is your best ally – don’t sacrifice it.

Much like the five stages of grief, accepting the time zone differences between you and your college is important. One step that can get you closer to functionality is prioritizing sleep. Psychologists don’t lie when they say sleep is one of the key ingredients to a productive (and sane) day – absolutely do not sacrifice it.

Keeping track of how many hours of sleep you get in a week can be beneficial in deducing other areas that may be problematic in your schedule. Consider installing sleep tracking apps like Sleep Monitor to get a better idea of your sleep situation. It can be difficult to have complete control of your sleeping habits, and such apps take note of your sleeping schedule for your benefit. Additionally, it is best to maintain a schedule that does not involve screens an hour before going to sleep.

“Avoid blue light from computer and phone screens one hour before bed. Blue light suppresses the release of melatonin (the body’s signal to start the cascade of processes to fall asleep). If you stare at a screen before bed you will take longer to fall asleep, have worse quality sleep and feel sleepier the following day. People use apps that strip out the blue light. However, some people turn the screen brightness up and bright light has just as bad a negative effect on sleep as blue light,” said world-renowned sleep expert Dr. Neil Stanely. 

Because following your natural circadian rhythm may not be possible with a unique schedule, it may be necessary to condition your body to fall asleep. This may require you to plan your social life around your sleep and let others know that you may not be available during the day. It is also important to keep your sleep and school environments separate, so as not to confuse your circadian rhythm by accidentally falling asleep at night.

3. Organize and track activities according to your secondary time zone.

With increased amounts of work to compensate for in-person discussions at lectures and the time zone differences in college, it can be difficult to stay on top of your work. Therefore, it is important that you’re not only aware of how many hours you’re ahead or behind, but also have a time reference. Consider getting a second clock that displays the time in your college city. You can add another digital clock on your desktop taskbar, hang a clock in your room, or place one on your desk. This will help you keep track of how much time you really have before that assignment or discussion post is due.

A time zone gap of ten hours or more may also mean that classes carry over to the next day. Evening lectures take place the next morning, and therefore a time zone adjusted timetable may be beneficial. Desktop apps like Notion not only allow you to customize your calendar, but also let you create to-do lists, keep a journal and reading list, and calculate grades.

Finally, don’t forget about daylight savings! Although a desktop watch may update your international time for you, knowing when a time change will take place is crucial to making sure you don’t misinterpret deadlines.

4.  Let others know

Since international students are a relative minority even in ethnically diverse colleges, it is important to make your position known.

Classes may often conduct surveys at the beginning of the term to get an idea of how much of the class is connecting on Zoom internationally. Participate in these surveys, and if this is not possible, let your professor know beforehand. This will allow them to be more sympathetic to your situation and understand the reason behind you potentially missing a class. Don’t abuse this power, however, as professors and TAs may reach out to you with concerns if you overemphasize your troubles with the time difference.

If a class requires you to be in groups or participate in group projects, make sure fellow group members are in similar time zones. This will allow you to coordinate with them more easily and prevent large chunks of time between communication.

5.  Use the time difference to your advantage.

If you’re in a country that is significantly ahead of your college city, use this to your advantage. Try conducting activities in the morning or night that you may not usually have time for, such as a long breakfast or lunch, or going for night-time runs. You can also use this time to be productive and catch up on readings so you don’t fall behind. If an assignment or midterm is on the horizon and you have details on it, don’t wait until it is assigned. Spread out its various components into several days to maximize productivity and keep your sleeping hours. While your classmates are sleeping, you can be working on the next assignment. 

Lastly, being away from campus doesn’t mean you’re doomed to missing out on social events. Sign up for online seminars, talks and clubs – you may even make new friends.

Online learning especially in institutions like college can be difficult without the added challenge of adhering to another time zone. However, it is not impossible to survive a term or two in this condition. As long as you keep sleep, scheduling, and social activities in check, you will thrive.

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College Life

5 Ways College Students Can Combat Depression and Anxiety Due to COVID-19

Conor Krouse

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A young lady with long dark curly hair wearing a white T shirt with a design on it having stress and anxiety with her MAC computer.
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Wear a mask, stay in your rooms, don’t go off campus, sanitize in every building, remain six feet apart; campus life is not like it has ever been before. COVID-19 has affected college life drastically. The thrill of moving in, meeting new friends in your hall, going out and having a good time, and adventuring across campus without fear of the unknown is no longer. Day by day, anxiety and depression are becoming even more prevalent across college campuses.

Below are a few ways to manage this stressful and purely exhausting time as a college student. Whether you’re at home taking online courses or on campus, there is always an outlet to ease your mind.

#1: Talk to friends, both virtually and socially-distant.

Socialization has become increasingly hard, especially on a college campus, where you arrive with the hopeful mindset of seeing new faces, making new connections, and doing new activities; to not have that is brutal.

However, in today’s society, with the help of FaceTime, Skype, video game chat rooms, and phone calls, there are so many ways to communicate. Not only that but what is the best way to connect with someone? Over a meal, of course. Go out and grab a meal with a friend or even an acquaintance that you hope to become closer to.

It’s easy to say you’re lonely, but it’s hard to not be. Make the extra effort, even if it is weird and unnatural, and make that phone call, or sit outside with someone.

#2: Find a new hobby.

This semester is odd for living standards for many colleges. It is with these changes, however, that every student has the opportunity for a new hobby. Going into this semester, I had no knowledge of who my suitemates were in my dorm building.

However, due to being stuck with each other constantly, we developed some new fun habits. Some of these include my suitemate teaching me to play guitar, as well as sharing our favorite TV shows and music tastes. With all of the private time we have been given, it has become easier than ever to find a new passion.

#3: Explore your home turf.

If you’re on a college campus, chances are you are close to, if not connected or within, what is known as a “college town.” Now is probably the best time to go and see what there is to do within these towns.

While most small businesses are closed and there are low numbers of people within the streets of towns or city centers, go and see what there is to offer. Even make a plan with some friends for the future! Of course, make sure you’re still doing everything at a distance.

#4: Exercise!

I’m sure many people have been hearing about this one a lot, but exercise has and will always be a key factor in personal health. There are hundreds of at-home workout regimens that you can find all across the internet.

Whether you’re aiming for weight loss, muscle toning, or just generally getting in shape, everything is accessible at the click of a button. It is not only good for your body; exercise helps with just about every piece of your psyche as well. The proper amount of physical activity aids sleep, stress, and general serotonin levels. So, get active, and give yourself some time for self-improvement.

#5: Document the Little Things.

Quarantine has made it extremely difficult to see the bright side of many situations. One factor that has led to my overall happiness is a bit of journaling. Oftentimes we don’t see the good within the current bad state of affairs of our lives.

By striving to find the good things and writing them down, even if it’s as simple and trivial as you drinking a glass of water, write down the positives of each and every day. The ability to look back and be happy with events not only allows you to stay in tune with your surroundings, but it is also a fantastic reminder that diamonds in the rough really do occur.

College life is a time of a complete change. And now, more than ever, feelings of social anxiety and loneliness have swept college campuses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tips listed above are simply the groundwork for ways to maintain yourself and a good attitude during the course of the COVID-19 semester. Of course, not all of these will help, and some are more distractions. But that’s fine, as it is just a start. Maintain good faith, keep spirits high, and, once again, wear a mask.

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College Life

5 Ways to Celebrate Birthdays Virtually

Nicholas Cordes

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The COVID-19 pandemic has made it anything but easy to gather for special occasions, be it weddings, reunions, or even birthdays. In a year with so much tumult and confusion, birthdays can feel particularly significant. Unfortunately, to limit the spread of the virus, many families and individuals have had to forego their birthday celebrations entirely.

A little boy holding a red plate in his hand, while trying to blow out the candles on his cake, his dad is on the right, and a little dark curly haired girl with a dress is across is on the left.
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However, there is always more than one way to do things, and the challenges and changes in 2020 have given everyone the opportunity to put their creative skills to good use. With the rise of video calls via Zoom and other platforms, families and friends have proven that there are still many ways to celebrate birthdays during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1).Virtual Surprise Party

Surprise parties have become a traditional way to celebrate birthdays by now, but the tradition doesn’t have to fade away with the loss of in-person parties. With Zoom, Skype, or Facetime serving as optimal replacements for real-life meetings, it’s all too easy to convince an unsuspecting friend to log on for a virtual surprise party.

Under the guise of a normal business call, anyone can join a meeting with the intent of working, only to find their expectations blown away as they celebrate their birthday in an original, safe way.

Three children looking at their grandfather online while celebrating a birthday virtually during COVID-19.
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2). Joint Virtual Birthday Party

With so many events canceled or missed out on because of COVID-19, it might be difficult to catch up on all of the celebrations when it’s safe to do so. Many people who have anticipated their birthdays for weeks and months may feel disappointed or left out as the current environment discourages celebratory gatherings.

Fortunately, in a time where virtual gatherings are commonplace, celebrating multiple birthdays at once can be a fun, unique way to create a party for many people who might otherwise miss out on their special day, and it gives you the opportunity to experiment with all kinds of virtual celebrations during COVID-19.

A young man with short brown hair and a plaid shirt, and another young man with short black hair watch someone in a video, while celebrating birthdays virtually during COVID 19.
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3). Birthday Care Package

As difficult as it is to gather in person during the times of COVID-19, there is no shortage of ways to communicate with friends and family, and mail is one of the most traditional ways to do so.

If you can’t be with your loved one on their special day, it can be incredibly thoughtful to send them a present or birthday care package for their at-home celebrations.

After they receive it, invite them to join you on a video call to open the package, if possible. It will be a special yet safe way for you to watch the surprise on their face as they open your gift.

A birthday care package containing multiple fashion magazines, a bag of persimmons, a package of coffee, a package of flaky sea salt, candy, tea, and pesto dip, and a big white piece of paper.
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4). Recorded Message

One of the many losses of COVID-19 is face-to-face communication, and many people still experience this, even as others return to work and school. Being unable to meet in person, many people have gone months without hearing their loved ones’ voices.

Around your birthday, it can be especially hard to go without hearing your friends and family wish you well and sing the traditional song.

However, one way to show your love for a friend on their birthday might be through a recorded voice message, a quick and easy way to express your excitement.

The message can be as short or as long as you want, and it can be a very personal way to show your loved one you care on their special day, as well as giving them something to hold on to even after their birthday has passed.

A brunette girl sitting outside on the grass on her cellphone, wearing a dark green shirt, blue shorts, and dark shoes.
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5). Birthday Parade

With the onset of COVID-19 and social-distancing laws, many people got creative with ways to safely visit their friends and family. One of the most popular is the socially-distanced parade, and there have been no shortage of these for birthday celebrations.

These parades can be as grand and creative as you like, with signs and decorations to adorn every car in the line-up. Just invite your loved one to step outside and cheer them on as you ride by. It can create an unforgettable birthday memory during a stressful and dark time.

A car decorated with food and birthday items with four people in the car, driving down the street.
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So much was lost during the COVID-19 pandemic this past year, including countless memories and celebrations. However, there are always ways to show our love and support for friends and family, and we have every opportunity to express our creativity for the people in our lives who reach exciting milestones.

Now that everyone has access to Zoom, Skype, and Facetime, friends and family can still create amazing virtual birthday celebrations during COVID-19. With a little brainstorming and work, it’s easy to turn anyone’s birthday into a memory that they’ll never forget, even during a global pandemic.

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College Life

The New College Life: Reflecting on my Siblings’ Experience with Remote Learning

Ivonne Scaglione

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Many screens depicting online learning, graduation, school, and learning

Students studying abroad during the outbreak of COVID-19 had a unique experience dealing with travel bans and new school regulations. My brother was studying abroad in Italy. Andrea, the youngest, was living in her dorm at NYU.

My other sister, Silvia, was working as a professor at a community college in New York City. Though we all live in separate homes in Westchester County, New York, we all share one major experience: living in the college remote learning environment since the outbreak of COVID-19. 

In March 2020, the college life they had always known changed unexpectedly. My siblings and I began to study online. But, their lives changed in a more drastic way than mine. I was used to remote learning; they were not.

I was used to the sedentary home life; they were used to the agitated, turbulent, and exciting life of studying and working in populous cities. My brother had to return from the city of Rome before the semester ended. Andrea left her dorm and her freedom on March 11, when most schools closed due to the pandemic. And, my sister Silvia, stopped commuting to New York City to teach Sociology.

Six months passed, and what they had known of their lives as college students was gone. “Studying in Rome was the greatest and scariest thing of my life,” Angel said. “In Italy, things were getting worse each day. I feel lucky.” Now, Angel gets up in the morning to attend classes in his room where his desk is. “It’s easier to get more distracted when you take online classes,” he said.

Andrea completed her secondary education in Westchester County and was very excited to experience college life at NYU. “I didn’t want to leave my dorm and my school, my friends, but I had to,” she said, disappointed. The college life she dreamed of, only lasted for about seven months before she had to go back home. 

Andrea’s bed at NYU’s dorm with several pillows on top of a striped blanket and pillow sheet set. She spends most of her time here due to remote learning.
Source: Ivonne Scaglione

Angel and Andrea are among the many college students who began studying remotely since March. “Only one of my seven closest friends will be attending classes on campus,” Andrea said. Universities in the city of New York are giving students the option to either study in person or remotely.

The NYU Office of Admission indicated that most of the school’s current college students take at least one class online. It seems clear, as we look at the people around us, that the world of remote learning has expanded. 

Besides students having to adapt to their new learning environment, professors, like Silvia, are also adapting to their new work-life conditions. Many professors like her had no previous experience teaching online.

“Sometimes, it’s difficult for me to keep students engaged,” said Silvia.

She attended virtual trainings by Columbia University that focused on teaching classes online to college students. “It’s important to establish a community in an online classroom,” said Silvia. Building a community is making the class friendly where students feel free to share their thoughts.

The goal of teaching remotely while building a community is for students to feel comfortable enough to reflect on the topics discussed in class freely. “I want to make time and space for them to share their thoughts,” said Silvia determinedly.  Since there is less human interaction with remote learning, it is necessary to build a virtual community to keep that sense of human connection. 

The community college where Silvia teaches offers both classes in person and online; however, her department, Sociology, will be offering only remote learning. “About 83 percent of students in this community college will be studying online this semester,” said Silvia. Counselors and writing centers are seeing students online only and the library is open by appointments only. 

The environment of college life before the pandemic has clearly changed. Yet, in a positive note, Silvia noticed that learning remotely brings flexibility for low-income families. She mentioned that one of her students is a new mother who sometimes asks to shut off her camera to breastfeed her baby.

If there weren’t new opportunities to learn online, there would be less flexibility for her to continue her education. Unfortunately, there are disadvantages to remote learning in low-income families too. Lacking a private space to study and WIFI connectivity are among these disadvantages.

“Some of my students have to go inside cars to find a private and quiet place to learn,” said Silvia. 

Recently, Andrea went back to NYU to visit a friend. She realized how much NYU had changed since she left it in March. “There was a COVID Testing Center,” she said surprised. The noisy, vigorous Starbucks was empty.

There are no seating commodities anymore. Students are prohibited to visit another student’s dorm, and as expected, students are mandated to wear masks. She misses the late nights talking with friends, tasting the freedom of college life.

NYU COVID Testing Center - beautiful brown building with man windows overlooking a quiet courtyard with several people walking by
Source: Ivonne Scaglione

As opposed to the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, this pandemic came in a good time for education access. The US Department of Education found that 89 percent of all households in the United States have internet access.

About 6.9 million students were taking classes in the Fall semester of 2018. This fall, about 19.7 million students are attending colleges and universities nationwide. We can assume that at least 50 percent of these students are attending classes online. 

 “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change,” Biologist Charles Darwin said about his theory on the Survival of the Fittest. As college students pursue their careers online or on campus, they also adapt to be part of a safer future.

Before this time, humanity showed its great resilience to survive wars. Now, college students are fighting a battle against invisible infectious agents. This proves that this generation is tough. This generation fights disease through adaptation. It fights to prevail. It fights for existence. 

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