I am currently writing this post from my home in New York. Due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, many study abroad programs including my own were cut short and canceled. My 5-month exchange abroad was transformed into 6 weeks abroad, with one course completed. It has been a hard adjustment to transition to remote learning for a university that is in a different time zone, especially 14 hours ahead.
To say this transition was difficult is an understatement but I have always enjoyed a good challenge. Being able to be with my family during this tough time is what is keeping my spirits up, also knowing I am still able to continue to earn credits toward my degree, even though my program was canceled.
The school I attend works with a block model schedule. This means you take one class for one month, so a total of four classes per semester. The goal behind this type of learning is to focus your attention on one subject at a time and allow your full focus to ensure the greatest work. I am not used to having only one class to focus on so transitioning into this block model learning was tricky at first. However, after completing my first block I felt very conformable with this way of learning, I almost prefer it to taking 4-6 classes at a time over the course of a semester. The workload seems very similar to what I am used to at SUNY New Paltz for a 300-level class.
Remote learning seemed a transition I would be prepared for. I have taken an online class before, so I am used to submitting work and not having the constant face to face interaction. However, I am struggling with maintaining the same communication I am used to with my professors at home, specifically in my studio art courses. Australian professors, from those I have had, are much more relaxed and provide the students with a lot of freedom in and out of the classroom. The structure is limited, and this can lead to a lack of or limited clarification on assessments. I am sure I am running into similar if not the same issues as my fellow classmates back at New Paltz who are also doing remote learning.
As I continue my abroad studies from home, I am sad to know I will not be able to experience all that Australia uni life and Australia, in general, had to offer. Australia stole my heart from the minute I stepped off the plane. I am disappointed I was unable to have the experience I had always dreamed about, but I am hoping I will be able to return to the country in the near future. Overall, I am grateful for the time did have to spend meeting friends that will last a lifetime and placing that will forever hold a special place in my heart. I am thankful for my safe and healthy return to the states. I wish, those of you who are reading this, a safe and healthy future. Know you are not alone in your crazy self-iso. Keep in contact with loved ones and professors and make the most out of an otherwise hard situation! Take it from me whose classes at 14 hours ahead of her home time!