This past year has brought immense change in all of our lives. We’ve all had to get used to a new normal that has taken us by surprise. For international students like me, this means having to live thousands of miles away from Canada. Here is my experience as an international student studying with a nine-hour time difference.
The Big Change
I came back to my home country, Pakistan, when the COVID-19 situation was at its peak. I was scared to be alone and I wanted nothing but to be back with my family. When summer rolled in, the pandemic started feeling more real. It was just announced that the Fall semester would be online and everything from the next hour seemed unpredictable.
All of a sudden, I felt left out. I felt like I was missing out on something big. Being an international student, I had high expectations of my university life abroad: getting to know the city, the people and the university. Little did I know that the next year would be a year full of opportunities, engagement and success.
In movies, we would always see how important it was to make friends in university. With everything being online, that became quite a problem.
Fortunately for us, the Ted Rogers School was coming up with unique ways to maintain engagement online. I remember thinking how lucky I am to have so many opportunities while sitting halfway across the globe. Some of my favourites that have helped me make my closest friends are:
- The Academic Success Centre: You can meet with a tutor or a peer that could help you with your courses or efficient management of your time.
- The Ted Rogers Students’ Society: In fact, I had my very first student group experience online! TRSS offers multiple opportunities for its students to network and meet with industry professionals and fellow students. Despite the nine-hour time difference, I attended several Bootcamps, networking events and conferences that have contributed to my personal and professional growth.
- International Student Support: The ISS is always there to support you and guide you through any immigration or visa updates. Throughout the confusion, the ISS kept me up to date with the travel requirements and updates.
Another challenge I faced, related to managing two time zones at a time, was productively scheduling my time.
I would recommend using Google Calendar to organize your time. Google Calendar has a color coding feature that allows you to color code your activities accordingly. I would have a separate color for course work, extracurricular activities and one for other events.
Google Calendar also has a feature that allows you to add a secondary time zone to your calendar. I would keep my primary time zone as Eastern time and my secondary time zone as the country that I am currently in. This way I was sure I wouldn’t miss any class due to time conversion, which I’m sure all of us have been a victim of!
I would also recommend checking the Time Management Tip Sheets. There are some editable schedules that you could always print out and have at hand.
Last but not least, you should give yourself a pat on the back for this past year!
Balancing two time zones at once is not something we ever expected, but have successfully mastered. Just remember to take time out for yourself during the week and seek help when needed. There will always be thousands of opportunities waiting for you that suit your schedule and your time zone.
See you all on campus soon!