Experiencing NEIU through the screen!
February 23, 2021
Working across time zones is a hazard to health—sleep deprivation, a detrimental intake of coffee and, of course, accumulation of bags under the eyes. Though on one hand applications like Zoom and discord bring the world together, on another, it also might be rendering a great amount of stress. Getting into a university of my choice was like a dream come true only to become a nightmare when the semester started.
Spared the commotion of traveling, settling and overcoming jet lag by the pandemic, conditions created by the pandemic introduced me to a whole new world. In this brave new world, the first thing I had to do was generate an account on the university’s website, a simple task that could be overcome single-handedly with a click.
‘How to make a d2l?’ ‘How to make an account on an academic website?’ were words I searched on Google, videos I watched on YouTube and questions I asked on various websites. After a long day of research and furrowed eyebrows, my account was finally created. The first task being done, another came into my view: a class schedule with timings that had to be matched with my time zone.
Now, this one, as a matter of fact, was difficult, seeing as Pakistan is twelve hours ahead of the USA. For instance, a class that was to be conducted at six in the evening in the USA would be taken at four in the morning in Pakistan—a sleepless night at its finest though no complaints there, as it was something chosen willingly. However, adjusting to the time zone was a jet lag of its own: sitting at the table waiting with the camera on for three hours, only to realize that the class still had time-missing deadlines once or twice because the timings had been misread.
Regulating time zones across classes in the US and in Pakistan was laborious, something that a cup of steaming coffee couldn’t help me manage. Additionally, it caused me to be out of sync with my natural circadian rhythm, which, by the way, should follow the sun. Instead, the different time zones made me adapt to the electric light and rendered me nocturnal.
It was also hard for me to find an escape from work, since it all took place at home. It felt as if the school was always there, with me, for the entire day. Furthermore, living in an area where internet access and Wi-Fi are not always at their best made it not only distressing for me, but I also always found myself anxious about being able to join and maintain access to online classes and assignments. I also noticed that staying at the desk for hours got harder as the week went on.
Moving on, I have now somehow (miraculously) adjusted to the nocturnal lifestyle, and I just could not be not overworked. So I applied to write for the NEIU Independent. I figured I had to make the most of my exchange program, whatever the circumstance. The saddest part of my virtual exchange experience is I cannot relate to any—I repeat—any student exchange meme!
It may not be your traditional international exchange program (thank you Ms. Corona—not), but it is an experience I will cherish and be grateful for.
NEIU, wait for me. I’ll see you in the next semester and not through a screen. That’s for sure!