Santiago Cabrera, a junior specializing in economics and finance, attended virtual classes from his family’s home in Venezuela.
The COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020 closed campuses around the world, forcing students to adapt to the new standard of distance education.
International students attending Seton Hall have had to decide whether to stay in the United States or return to their home countries to overcome the pandemic.
To get a better idea of what the past year and a half has been like for international students, we spoke to three undergraduates who have remained actively engaged with Seton Hall from abroad during the 2020 school year. -2021.
Santiago Cabrera, a junior specializing in economics and finance, attended virtual classes from his family’s home in Venezuela. The remote arrangement allowed her to spend time with family, friends and dogs while taking lessons. This, Santiago said, was the silver lining he experienced, like other students, during the lockdown.
Julia Clapis, a double specialization in diplomacy and international relations and Brazilian economy, and Julien Carbonell, majoring in design and visual communication from the Philippines, also discovered the benefits of attending distance school.
Julian Carbonell, a design and visual communication graduate from the Philippines, was able to spend more time with friends and family while studying from home last year.
Julia and Julian, both seniors, said the semester went well overall and being at home was a positive experience that allowed them to focus on their studies and improve their GPA. . Staying on track academically and staying connected with a campus thousands of miles away meant going the extra mile to reach out to faculty and classmates. The Philippines time zone is 12 hours ahead of the east coast, which was an added challenge for Julian. He said it was crucial for him to communicate frequently with his teachers and classmates. He was able to receive grades and special attention when jet lag prevented him from attending live lessons. Fortunately, Santiago said his teachers were “easier to contact than ever before.”
All three students said that their home environment was very conducive to completing their homework and not a distraction for them. Julian was grateful for the support he received from his family. As Santiago felt more direct pressure from his family at home to work harder and better in school
Despite the lack of real in-person interaction, Julia and Julian tried to participate in school clubs to keep in touch with campus life. Julia is part of the International Law Society, which has held meetings throughout the year. She has also been active on the Student Activities Board, helping with the planning of virtual events. Back in the Philippines, Julian kept in touch with the Philippine League at Seton Hall, aka FLASH.
When asked to compare classroom learning with distance learning, students found more pros than cons. According to Julia, attending classes in the comfort of her room was a great option. She was also able to save money on flights, food and other expenses. Being at home gave Julia more time to participate in one of her hobbies, horse racing.
Santiago was grateful for the extra time he had spent with his family and dog over the past year. Julian also enjoyed reuniting with his siblings and had more control over his school schedule. His teachers, he said, were understanding and flexible.
Julia admitted that she would have felt more connected if face-to-face learning had been an option last year. Julian had a similar experience, adding that work and family obligations while studying at home made distance learning more difficult.
Santiago sometimes faced the added difficulty of a poor internet connection and felt that his teachers did not always understand his computer situation.
Given the choice of distance learning or on-campus, Julian and Julia agreed that in-person classes are preferable and allow for better relationships and interactions with students and faculty. Santiago said he preferred distance learning which allowed him to reconnect with his family. He recommended that “if a student is reluctant to stay home or study in person, they should stay home if they have a good environment”.
In the end, each of the students experienced the educational challenges created by the pandemic in their own way. And, whether they’re home or back on campus this year, they’re ready to make the most of the semester ahead.