Back to (Online) School

With the ongoing pandemic, offices, businesses, entertainment venues and other establishments have been forced to close or retreat to remote working. Education is no exception, as schools, universities and other educational institutions have moved to the web. From Zoom classes to online presentations, a lot of people are still adapting to this new method of learning. 

As my university starts its spring semester online, I have made preparations to make my apartment feel as study-appropriate and as comfortable as possible. Although Japanese apartments are notorious for their tiny rooms, it’s important to try to create or clear up some space from which you are able to work from. 

However, keep in mind that your physical environment is not the only factor to take into account. Communicating, socializing, organizing a routine and simply taking breaks are equally important. Staying at home and coping with the ongoing situation is difficult enough. School should not be an added stress ⁠— we should try to make things as easy as possible for ourselves while we transition to virtual classrooms. 

Tips to optimize school from home

Create a study space

Just like at school, where desks and (mostly uncomfortable) chairs help center your focus, it is important to duplicate this kind of environment at home. This does not mean that you have to purchase items for a professional office set-up. Even if all you have is a tiny coffee table, use it as a study space. No matter how small your residence, you can always clear some space as a temporary solution. 

Talk to your peers and professors

The biggest difficulty of online learning is the lack of face-to-face communication. For those working on group projects or their thesis, talking to your peers and advisors will be necessary. Make sure that you are able to keep in touch by saving all of their emails and contact them if you need help. Any school-related stress can be alleviated by simply reaching out. 


Socializing is by far one of the biggest components of school life. Replace lunch hangouts and after school activities by calling a friend, scheduling a Zoom drinking session, or playing online games together. Try to think of it as physical distancing, rather than social distancing. Staying connected and helping each other through this period can make things easier for everybody. 

Take a break

Productivity does not need to be forced. It’s easy to be swept away by the pressure of having to be doing something ⁠— just be. Attend classes and study when you have to but besides that, enjoy your leisure time. Being at home with so much time can often make you feel guilty but remember that if we were physically at school, we wouldn’t be feeling as guilty for being unproductive. There is no rule for how much we should and should not be doing. 

Build a routine

Building a routine doesn’t mean strictly compartmentalizing your time. With how strange things have become this would be impossible. Instead, try to keep things relatively balanced in your life by maintaining regular sleep hours, eating three meals a day, and moving your body a little to make up for the lack of walking you would usually get between classes. Also, when working try to make sure that you are using your study space. This is a lot harder when your desk is right next to your bed, however, try!  


Remember that this is an unusual situation that we are in right now. Students, professors, and other staff members are experiencing school from home for the first time. Although it may be difficult, try to remain kind and patient. Once this situation blows over, you will be an expert at studying or working from home.