With a limited number of students on campus and a worsening pandemic, the idea of in-person learning seems like a distant, foreign reality. Scattered across time zones and countries, students reflected on the struggles of the fall as they registered for spring classes.  

Challenges with course registration were especially relevant to Zach Feldman (23B). Though from New Jersey, Feldman decided to live in Atlanta this year. So, when signing up for spring classes, Feldman didn’t realize he was restricted from enrolling in in-person courses. 

“There’s a class I didn’t realize was only meant for on-campus freshmen,” Feldman explained. “This was a high level political science class so I didn’t think freshmen would take it. I contacted the professor and … asked if I had permission to take his class, and he said no.”

As a result, Feldman had to switch into another political science class, putting his academic interest aside in order to meet credit requirements. 

While Feldman tried to avoid 8 a.m. classes for the spring, Andrea Ding (24C) preferred to register for early classes. Studying throughout the fall from Hefei, China, Ding not only faced the challenges of being a first semester freshman, she also confronted a 13-hour time difference. 

Ding’s wide time gap limited the courses she felt comfortable enrolling in for the spring, which meant she had to sacrifice her academic interests.  

“There was a freshman seminar at 4 p.m, which here is 4 a.m. or 5 a.m., about Roman politics. But I didn’t get to take that class because I can’t stay up that late,” Ding explained.

Kristal Du (24C), who took her classes from Beijing, China, spoke at length about the troubles she faced during the fall. Without on-campus peers, Du lived with one of her friends in China, who attends Tufts University (Mass.). 

“We have a similar schedule, so it’s nice to have someone with you, especially at 4 a.m. because it can get depressing,” Du said. “But now I see my family mostly on the weekends.” 

While Ding did her best to obtain early class times, Du said she took a nocturnal approach. She was awake from 2 p.m. until 5 a.m. to match the times of courses that interested her. 

Du soon found that taking classes in a different time zone negatively affected her physical and mental health. Living nocturnally, Du sees little sunlight. 

To make next semester more enjoyable, Du said she tried to enroll in more 100-level classes for a lighter course load, but couldn’t get into everything she wanted. 

“I tried to take advantage of Add/Drop/Swap,” Du explained. “I went on at 1 a.m. my time … but I was number 19 on two of the classes I really wanted to get into and it still hasn’t moved.”  

All virtual students, with one semester under their belts, feel equipped to take on the spring. For Ding, this means joining more clubs to avoid the pangs of loneliness she felt during the fall.  

“I look forward to the spring semester,” Ding said. “I like that I will have more chances to join more clubs and organizations because it’s quite lonely to study at home without friends.”