Since August, Emory’s international students have been facing a tall hurdle — a significant time zone difference. Though some professors upload recorded lectures, others still require frequent attendance and participation. What’s the best way to deal with this? By applying a couple of time management skills and helpful habits, international students can overcome this untimely challenge.

Don’t Procrastinate in the Name of Time Difference

Finish your work early and develop a healthy sleeping schedule. For international students, assignments can be due at arbitrary times. Instead of scrambling to finish an assignment by midnight, international students may find themselves with early morning deadlines. Don’t make the mistake of setting alarm clocks for extremely early hours to finish homework or exams at the last minute while extremely sleep deprived. Instead, finish assignments before you go to sleep, even if the deadline is hours away.

Create Daily To-Do Lists

Either before going to sleep the previous night or first thing in the morning, create a to-do list for the day. Professors usually announce deadlines and exam dates in Eastern Standard Time (EST), which can cause international students who momentarily forget the time zone difference to accidentally miss due dates. Check your Canvas page every morning to ensure you know which assignments must be completed and at what times before you go to bed. Use the notes app on your phone and place the list on your background to ensure you remember.

Bond With Other International Students

Though quarantine is isolating, there are thousands of other Emory students going through this experience. Discussing and sharing your struggles with others who can sympathize with you can be comforting. Create or join group chats with friends, discuss your worries, remind each other of deadlines and just talk with each other. 

Some classes feature group projects and it can be difficult to find a time convenient for everyone, especially when group members are spread across the globe. See if you can work with fellow international students with a similar time zone to meet up at a more reasonable time.

Reach Out to Your Professors 

Reaching out to your professors can be intimidating. However, many professors are understanding and willing to accommodate any concerns you may have. Instead of taking an exam with four hours of sleep, see if you can move back that deadline by a couple hours to a more reasonable time. If you don’t understand a topic, but office hours are inaccessible, consider emailing your professor to schedule an alternative time to ask your questions. Though many professors require attendance, some are willing to accommodate international students and allow them to instead watch recorded lectures. You won’t know unless you ask.

Appreciate the Positives

Pulling yourself out of bed to attend lectures at 4 a.m. can be physically exhausting, but there are some silver linings for international students. While some classes may be in the middle of the night, others might actually now be during a more desirable time slot. Classes that used to be at 8 a.m. in Atlanta can be anywhere from noon to the late evening, depending on the time zone. 

College is often an overwhelming and fast-paced environment, and early mornings can be calming and rejuvenating. Appreciate the sunrise in the mornings. Enjoy a fruit smoothie and some meditation as you watch it rise. Check in with yourself — make sure you aren’t too overwhelmed to tackle another day of challenging courses with a nearly nocturnal itinerary. 

Conclusion

Though navigating a large time difference can be everything from inconvenient to taxing, many members of the Emory community are willing to help alleviate the burden. Do your best to stay organized and manage your time well, but don’t be afraid to reach out to others for help.