Time Flies- Coping with Time Differences while Learning Online

While most of us have seen skits or shows about how learning in the future can be done from home, no one expected that particular future to hit us as quickly as it did. Previously the thought of sitting at home while most of our learning took place on a computer screen seemed laughable- but when the initial wave of the pandemic swept across the globe, that was precisely what happened. Students who had travelled across borders to further their studies were now confined to their dorms for safety as they attended classes and tutorials via their laptops.

And what about students who were due to start their own overseas study experience? Most, if not all, were resigned to a year of coping with classes online- with the added complication of having a class schedule designed for a different time zone altogether! Yes, it can get tricky (especially if you’re studying at a university located with a LARGE gap in time zones), but trust us when we say it can be done. Here are some tips on how!


  1. Online Obstruction: Dealing with Technical Issues

    We’ve all been there. One minute it’s smooth sailing, the next, your lecturer/professor’s voice (or even worse, your own mid-presentation) fades in and out of hearing with bits and pieces of sentences chopped off, or everything freezes and goes blank, with a “No internet Connection” or “Poor Internet Connection” message popping up on screen.

    How To Resolve This:

    The most effective solution for dealing with this issue would be communication! Contact your lecturers/ professors and inform them that you’ve been having issues with your internet connectivity- if they can’t provide a temporary solution, at the very least they (and consequently, you) will be better prepared for those unfortunate moments where your screen decides to cut to black because your internet connection bailed on you.
  2. Distractions, distractions: Focus, where art thou?

    A frustrating aspect of attending online classes while at home is that there can be a myriad of distractions while studying; pets, parents needing a hand with chores/ their phones or computers, siblings (younger and older) who just won’t leave you alone, the list goes on. And these can be very disruptive to one’s concentration, even more so with conflicting time zones resulting in your classes being held at (for you, at least) odd hours!

    How To Resolve This:

    One method of overcoming this would be by writing out a schedule- when you have classes, lectures, tutorials, and sticking it up in a common area where everyone can refer to. This achieves two things- one, you have a clear idea of when your classes and tutorials are so that you can organise yourself. Secondly, by placing your schedule somewhere easy to access, it makes it easier for others to know when they can ask you for help or when you’ll be otherwise occupied with coursework/ lectures. It also helps to discuss your schedule with your family so that you can get your parents to help lay down some ground rules on how house responsibilities are to be split, factoring in your classes and their timing.

  3. Motivation Minefields- How Do I Go On???

    Try as you might, there may be days where you feel bored and listless at the thought of class. “What’s the point?” you may grumble. “It’s just sitting in front of a laptop- it’s not like I’m actually in class.” That, coupled with the lack of interaction (family members and pets aside), and potential odd hours in the case of major time zone gaps, may have you feeling unable to meet with the day to day demands of your classes, and may result in you feeling demotivated.

    How To Resolve This:

    There are several ways of overcoming lack of motivation. To start with, have a designated study area- one which is located somewhere conducive (sorry guys, but as cosy as it is, your bed doesn’t count). If you have to listen in to live lectures and you’re worried about being disruptive, there’s no harm in listening to lectures in your room- but maybe you could move to the living room, or your house’ designated study area. As for the lack of interaction, maybe try setting up an online meet-up with your friends, you could have a group meet-up online to study or revise together, or even to have an online game night/ movie night together! It might not be quite the same as meeting them in real life, but it is the next best thing! The odd hours caused by time zone conflicts may be a little trickier to resolve- but it can be done! If attendance is not an issue, or if you’re worried about being too tired to attend class or having classes at odd hours- it would be worth investigating as to whether your college offers students access to recordings of their lectures- this gives you the chance to catch up on any lessons you may have missed, review particularly confusing topics, and (best of all), reduces the stress of missing classes because of time zones and fatigue!

It’s a tricky and unique time, but remember- things are getting better with the roll out of vaccines and mass vaccinations helping control the spread of the pandemic. While life may not get back to ‘normal’- hey, at least we know that we’re equipped to deal with further unexpected curve balls! Stay safe and stay hopeful guys, and always remember that you can reach out if you need a shoulder to lean on.