International students are on campus again for the first time in a year

Attending school can be really tough. Taking classes online, in the middle of the night, and feeling a sense of separation from the rest of your classmates is even tougher. Several international students who attended Dana Hall online for all of last year finally set foot on campus for the first time this September. 

“I’m a person who’s an extrovert,” said Puckni Bhengsri ‘24. “So I need to see people or socialize to actually function.” Being in a global pandemic left many confused and scared, and several online students felt disconnected from the rest of the school last year. “It was hard making friends on Zoom because you didn’t get lunch or breaks to socialize,” said Nina Wang ‘24. A lot of international students who were new to Dana last year struggled with socializing. Not knowing anyone, coupled with the fact that they couldn’t attend all of their classes in real-time because of time differences, caused many to feel lonely and out-of-touch. “We didn’t get a lot of time to talk online. You didn’t get to have those little conversations between classes,” said Nina. “I felt like I knew everyone, but then I didn’t know anyone. I know their names, I know their faces, but we didn’t talk so I couldn’t actually get to meet them,” she added. 

Dana Hall students who live in Asia had complications attending classes with their American classmates last year due to time differences. Puckni, who’s from Thailand, had to attend classes “from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m.,” every day, so her sleep cycle was completely thrown off and she felt “nocturnal.” The time difference also caused obstacles with work outside of class. “I wouldn’t do my homework right after school, because I had to go to bed…. You feel productive, but at the same time you feel like you procrastinated the homework for a full 10 hours,” said Nina.

A struggle that most students faced last year was focus. But while hybrid students got to be in a classroom half the time, online students were always remote. Not being in a classroom meant that students could get distracted fairly easily and fall behind. “It was harder to focus,” said Nina. “and I’m more productive now.”

Being back in person has been really amazing for many people. “I have more resources now … and I get to see people in real life instead of through a screen,” said Puckni.

Many of the former remote students are very grateful to finally be on-campus. “It really makes you appreciate how great on-campus life is,” said Nina with a smile. “I now know just how valuable in-person learning is.”

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