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Transitioning to Online Classes: What I Learned From Studying In A Different Time Zone

When I first started online classes one thing that I didn’t anticipate was the transition period. I thought that after going online last semester I would get the grasp of my classes, that it would be a breeze. I was wrong. 

For the first four weeks of class, the transition was not easy. I was anxious and overwhelmed by everything. I remember waking up in the morning and the first app I would open was Canvas. I would look at my to-do list on my phone, seeing what work was due that day or even the next week. Once I closed it, I would reopen it to make sure that I got the date correct, more importantly, the correct time zone! There were days where I would be up till early morning doing work, and sleeping during the day. It stressed me out at times, and due to the amount of work piling up rapidly I felt like I was losing time. At times, I was scared that I was missing out and found myself missing Boston and my friends. Throughout this time all I was thinking about was “how am I going to deal with this?”

As of now, it’s been five weeks since the fall semester began, and it’s only now that I am beginning to adjust to my schedule. It hasn’t been easy, but here is what I learned from studying in a different time zone and how I was able to adjust to my schedule.


1. Plan Ahead  

Every Monday, I usually plan my schedule for the week, penciling tasks that I need to do not only for school but for extra-curricular activities, as well as the times of my classes. In the second week of school, my homework began to pile up quickly, and at one point I hadn’t remembered that I had an assignment due until that evening.

To fix this problem, I learned that it’s best to plan your daily routine for the next two weeks, if possible. By planning ahead, I ensured that I had more time to get work done, which is important when you are living in a different time zone, and submit them on time. 


2. Sleeping Schedule & Afternoon Naps

Currently, I am 12 hours ahead of Boston so I struggled to stay awake in the evening. There were times when I was up at 2 am for class and would catch myself nearly falling asleep during a Zoom meeting. With a messy sleeping schedule, and spending some days staying up past 3 am, there were days where I lacked sleep. This made me unproductive and I felt like I never had enough time to complete my homework. Worse, it made me cram my work. 

When this happened more frequently, I learned that taking 20-minute power naps helps to boost my energy. Another way was creating a sleeping schedule. If I slept early in the morning, I made sure to wake up at noon, if not a bit later. Planning my sleeping schedule helped to give me the energy I needed and to be productive. 


3. Stretching

Being on the computer and typing all day can be exhausting. Early on, when I would be typing, my wrist and fingers began to hurt due to the long hours of doing work. Whenever I would try to type more the pain just got worse and worse. Carpal Tunnel? Maybe, but to avoid straining my hands I made sure to stretch it during breaks and homework. At times I would also stretch my body. This helped to relieve the pain, releasing some tension in my body and hands, and the stress that I had. 


4. Talk to Friends

When I started online classes, I had FOMO, I was scared of being left out and disconnected from my friends due to being miles apart. Though what helped me to move past this was to talk to friends, or at least hear from them. Currently, my friends and I have a group chat and whenever I see their conversations, it decreases my feeling of FOMO a bit. In a way, even if I may not always be part of their conversations, I don’t feel left out completely, knowing this makes me happy and smile. Sometimes, even talking to someone about the stresses of school relieves me of my frustrations and worries. It makes me relax and have a pleasant day even if I am busy.

Belle Tan

Emerson '23

Belle Tan is a junior at Emerson College majoring in Creative Writing with a minor in Publishing and Music History and Culture. During her free time, she enjoys playing the flute, singing, reading, writing, and spending time with family and friends.
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