International student study struggles during Covid-19

“For international students, extra tools… can help balance out their unique challenges “

Many international students taking classes in the US were forced to return to their home countries and take online classes as universities took measures to contain the virus on campuses, writes Tutor Portland founder Eric M. Earle. Online classes allowed international students to continue their education but not without interruption.

As the US continues to grapple with the worst of the pandemic, there are challenges international students will encounter when they return home mid-semester.

Limited Academic Resources

Living aboard will present certain limitations to academic resources. If you’re a student studying from a different country, your professor’s office hours occur while you’re sleeping, making it hard to connect or ask questions.

There may be media restrictions in your country that prevent you from accessing certain online materials without a proxy or VPN. Also, if you’re planning on participating in an internship, expect to run into some hurdles.

Students seeking internships to fulfil class credit will find fewer opportunities as many employers won’t consider an intern living aboard and local shutdowns could inhibit work altogether.

US Tutoring Options for International Students

If you’re an international student, it’s helpful to consult with an online tutor during your semester. Online tutors from the US are accessible at all hours of the night which is helpful for students who might not be able to attend their professor’s office hours at inconvenient times.

For example, if you’re struggling in math class and need a local math tutor from the US, you’ll be able to find someone who’s there for you day and night, even if your professor is busy.

Tutors can also suggest alternative resources if the links your professor assigns are blocked in your country. Plus, they can reach out to their local networks to seek internship opportunities that accommodate foreign students.

Don’t underestimate the power of a tutor!

Zoom Fatigue is Real

Zoom works well for simple lectures, but not for more interactive or creative classrooms. It’s difficult for students to feel engaged in Zoom classes, while teachers struggle to connect. Most teachers find that it’s increasingly difficult for students to come together and huddle around coursework in the same ways.

To make matters worse, virtual interactions can be extremely stressful for students. If you’re a student quarantining with your family in Beijing, collaborating with your fellow classmates from Idaho, Los Angeles, or Hawaii can prove to be quite the scheduling challenge. While these struggles prepare students for the future of online, remote work, it also introduces a lot of headaches.

As classes and classwork move entirely online, students are more vulnerable to cyber-attacks, technical difficulties, and disengagement. For international students, risks from hackers are compounded due to their dependence on online tools like Zoom to meet with faculty and colleagues.

How to Cope with Zoom Classes

There are a habits we encourage to prevent Zoom fatigue in students. One is to take breaks every hour to refresh the eyes and attention span.

Also, it’s good for students to craft the best ergonomic working environment for themselves so they are comfortable throughout the day. Further, creating some space between the laptop and a work area may tamp down the stress of staring at dozen talking heads in a grid.

Another tip for international students is to count their sleep hours. Some students might have to wake up at the three in the morning to attend math class, which can be detrimental for restful sleep. In this case, it might be wise for students to plan out how they can achieve the required 8-10 hours of sleep per night.

If a student sleeps from 10pm to 2am, takes class from 3am to 5am, and sleeps from 5am to 10am, they are getting plenty of rest to live a healthy life. Having an extra hour to prepare between 2am and 3am is crucial because it allows the brain to get up to speed while the student fixes their hair, has a snack, and prepares their work for class.

Happy Studying!

While we’re all eager to get back to normal, blended learning is probably here to stay. For international students, extra tools like online tutors, strategic screen time, and scheduled sleep cycles can help balance out their unique challenges and keep them on track for success!


About the author: Eric M. Earle is a math tutor from Portland, Oregon and the founder of Math wasn’t always his strong suit, but now he uses his breakthrough techniques to help today’s students.