How I’m Coping with Night Classes As an International Student

When I was getting ready for my first year at BU, my mom was helping me pack when she wistfully said, “I wish BU would come here instead of you going to BU.” Little did she know that less than two years later, I would show up in front of my doorstep with a suitcase in one hand and my laptop in another, ready to crash at home for a full semester.

Staying at home during the semester has been equal parts crazy and underwhelming. I missed the wild nights out with my friends, but I also don’t have time to feel upset because remote classes are so much more exhausting than actual, real-life ones. Why? Because for me, classes begin at 6 PM and end at 2 AM. I’m back home with my family in India, which means that I’m nine and a half hours ahead of Boston. And it also means that I’m living my days upside down in order to make up for the time difference.

apple watch Pexels The first week wasn’t terrible at all. I woke up at 10 AM and didn’t actually shower until the afternoon. I remember thinking to myself, Hey, this isn’t so bad! I reckoned I could do my homework during the day, attend classes at night, and fall asleep as soon as they ended. For a while it worked, because I usually studied better during the day anyway and this new schedule allowed me to both rest and finish my homework before classes began. 

But as the semester progressed, I slowly began to struggle to stay awake during class. I was usually yawning by 11 PM and dozing by 1 AM. Homework and readings began to pile up and I struggled to finish them on time, choosing instead to stay up after classes ended and work till 3 or 4 in the morning. Because of this, I woke up super late in the morning, well-rested but somehow still tired. I was always one of those people who needed to have at least a solid 7 hours of sleep to function like a normal human being, so I couldn’t get myself to work until midday, and succumbed to naps in the evening, right before classes started. About ten minutes before my first class, I would jerk awake to the jarring sound of my alarm going off in my ear, groggily drag myself out of bed, and slump into my chair, ready for another day (or night) of online classes. The worst part of it all was I had to drop out of on-campus clubs, or couldn’t reach leadership positions in them, because I couldn’t make it to the meetings, which took place around 4 or 5 in the morning for me.

computer with tea and two notebooks Photo by Gabrielle Henderson from Unsplash It was around last week when I realized that I was slowly losing control of the semester— and it had barely started. I had to change my schedule before the first round of midterms came around. And so I began to devise a new strategy, whittling away all the activities I did for leisure during the day, such as reading a book or watching a TV show, and spent that time working instead. My elaborate exercise routines to stay in shape during quarantine shrunk to two ten minute Chloe Ting workout videos. I also changed my diet, dropping empty carbs and sugar for veggie juices and fruits. The results were palpable within only a matter of days— my skin glowed and I suddenly didn’t feel as tired anymore. Getting work done was still a struggle because I had a terrible habit of procrastinating all my work until the last minute, but remote classes were forcing me to deal with my vice in a much more straightforward way. The stakes were high, and the consequences of not performing even higher. I concentrated on creating to-do lists for myself and splitting my days into parts of work and relaxing so I wouldn’t get too overwhelmed.

Now I’m almost one month into the semester. The first real projects are rolling in for all my classes and the search for internships has well and truly begun. Attending classes remotely has kept me on my toes, forcing me to grow and adapt as my environment threw challenges at me. The first month has been a wild adventure of trying new things out, switching up my days and nights and trading sleep for screens, but now that I know what to expect I feel like I’m definitely ready for what’s to come.

All I can hope for is to stay determined and finish this semester without turning into a tiny, hyper nocturnal animal!

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