Meet the Notts students doing their study abroad from home

‘I have to do all-nighters Monday to Thursday to attend my lectures’

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic with lockdown impending, students on their year abroad were rushed back to the UK, unable to finish their studies internationally. Now, many UoN students are having to work to the timezones of the countries they were supposed to be in—some at quite frankly ridiculous hours.

The Nottingham Tab spoke to students currently completing their year (or semester) abroad from home and here’s what they had to say.

Robyn, University of Canterbury (New Zealand)

Robyn on her year abroad in Kaikoura, NZ

Since arriving back from New Zealand, Robyn is massively struggling to keep up with her work and lectures, with a time difference of 11 hours.

She told the Nottingham Tab that studying online with the 11 hour time difference is “a bit of a killer.” She added, with her 13 due assignments, that New Zealand has so many more deadlines “compared to the UK.”

With her normal ‘day’ of work starting at 10pm and finishing at 4am, she is unsurprisingly facing difficulties with her studies and grades. “I feel like my grades are dropping dramatically because of not being able to stay up or pay attention at 4am. It sucks sleeping through the day and I miss the sunshine!

“I’m going crazy and nocturnal. It’s a kick in the teeth.”

Alice, The University of Queensland (Australia)

Alice on her semester abroad in Australia

One month into her semester abroad in Australia, Alice rushed back to the UK with coronavirus threats surfacing. Speaking to The Tab Nottingham, she admitted: “UoN have been completely useless in providing information and support.”

Receiving only one email from the university saying “abroad students could return if they wanted”, Alice felt completely overlooked during this anxious period.

Alice believes that “there are still quite a lot of students stuck abroad”. By the time they figured out if they should come back or not it was “too late.” She says this is, at least in part, due to the “complete” lack of guidance from the university.

Addressing the university on the matter she feels that, “as soon as term started abroad UoN took the stance that we were no longer their responsibility. I have still had no communication from the Study Abroad office, they don’t know that I’m in the UK and not Australia, and frankly they don’t care.”

Sarah, Heidelberg University (Germany)

The Old Bridge in Heidelberg, where Sarah was supposed to be studying this semester. (Image via Hermann Luyken, Creative Commons License)

Sarah never made it to Germany. Heidelberg University’s second semester, which Sarah was scheduled to attend, didn’t start until May and Sarah hadn’t had any classes since UoN’s first semester finished in December. So, in order to finish the year, she is now taking Heidelberg’s modules from home.

Initially, Sarah forgot that Germany is an hour ahead of the UK. And, when she logged in for the first time she found herself  ‘walking in’ an hour late—just as the lecture was finishing.

Thankfully, she was on time for her lecture the next day. Only, this time, she still had her green screen background as a “drunken picture of her and her mates” from their latest Zoom pub quiz.

James, The University of Hong Kong and University of Melbourne (Australia)

Trinity College, University of Melbourne (Image via Wikipedia)

James had to abandon his year abroad twice. The first time was in November due to the Hong Kong protests, the second in April due to the pandemic.

He says he is “disappointed, but being realistic [he’s] not the greatest victim” and that he thinks “being upset about it would be unfair to those who have actually suffered.” However, he added that the time difference has presented extreme difficulties as he “does all nighters Monday to Thursday” and his grades have suffered massively since leaving as he “struggles to keep up.”

The Nottingham Tab discovered that these four cases are not remote, either. Many students, from UoN and beyond, are currently having to work out of sync with UK time in order to attend seminars and lectures so that they can gain enough credits to finish the year.

For some, what began as an exciting prospect, to learn in a foreign country, has quickly become a nightmare.

A spokesperson for The University of Nottingham said: “We are sorry to hear of any student experiencing difficulties due to the global pandemic and would advise them to raise any concerns with their tutors in the first instance.

“At the onset of the global pandemic, we advised students studying abroad to return and continue their studies in the UK to protect their health and avoid getting caught in the global shutdown.

“Since then we have been providing tailored academic and wellbeing support for each student. We understand that this is a challenging time for many in our University community and will continue to do everything we can to support them.”

If you are a Notts study abroad student with a story you’d like to share, please get in touch with us via message on our Facebook Page.

“James” and “Sarah” are fake names, changed on the grounds of preserving anonymity.