Prince Steven Annor
The plans of TCS alumni beginning the 2020 fall semester in the Middle East have been affected. Time zone, virtual learning, and socialization have complicated the start of their new term.
Graduates going to universities like NYU Abu Dhabi, or Northwestern in Qatar have had a difficult start to the semester after facing traveling and time difference effects on their education, which is completely virtual at the moment.
“Last semester I had to do all my classes in the original time zones while I was in Colombia, so I was studying anywhere between midnight all the way up to 8 a.m., it was a completely abnormal sleep schedule,” Pedro Velasquez, 2019 TCS alumnus, and current student at NYU Abu Dhabi, said.
Students are beginning to come back to campus, but due to the current travel crisis, flights have become much more scarce, making it a long way for students that are going back to college from Colombia to the Middle East.
“Normal flights, from the moment we leave up to where we reach campus, are anywhere between 27 to 33 hours, but basically we had to camp out for two days, so the total travel time from the moment I left my house until I got to campus was about 78 hours,” Velasquez, said.
Being able to travel to university campus does not mean that students will now be able to go to face to face classes, which indicates new students will face difficulties like virtual interaction and its dynamics.
“Even though I am going to campus in September, I’m still going to study virtually and I am obviously not going to be able to go out that much because of social distancing. Until now, interacting with teachers is difficult because some are still having difficulties with the internet,” Mariana Monsalve, 2020 alumna, and current student at Northwestern University in Qatar, said.
Learning is still completely virtual, but returning to campus will help students have access to the resources like a better connection, a stable time zone, and even spaces like a library, over going to classes in person.
“At least I get to do classes at the right time, at least I get to be nearby some of my classmates if I need help, and at least I get the support that the university has set up which I would have completely missed if I had stayed home,” Velasquez, said.