IN PHOTOS: A Day in a Life as a Remote Student
Take an inside look into the lives of two remote Vanderbilt students with two vastly different time zones.
April 18, 2021
COVID-19 has changed the plans of many students who were preparing to move on to campus for the 2020-2021 school year. As cases rose and variants of the virus spread through the U.S., some students chose to study remotely to reduce the risk of contracting the virus. Multimedia photographers first-years Connie Chen and Geena Han are both students who chose remote learning this spring. Chen studies from St. Louis, Missouri while Han studies from Cheonan, South Korea. Scroll to learn more about their remote learning experience.
CC: I am a first-year studying remotely in St. Louis, Missouri, which is in the same time zone as Nashville, TN. Most widely known for The Arch, St. Louis also contains Forest Park, a popular place for tourists and locals alike. In my free time, you can find me taking photos, having picnics, or hanging out with friends there.
GH: I am studying this semester from South Korea, which is now 14 hours ahead of Nashville. As a student, I need stability both in my WiFi connection and my surroundings. This is why I chose to stay with my family living in Cheonan.
CC: Food at home is one of my favorite parts of being remote. I am so blessed to have a mom who’s an amazing cook. We usually eat traditional Chinese food, ranging from “xiaolongtangbao” (soup dumplings) to rice cake, and sometimes we spice it up with some takeout sushi from our local restaurants.
GH: Food in South Korea is probably one of my favorite aspects of studying remotely here. Food choices for me range anywhere from traditional Korean food called “jeon” to western style french fries.
CC: Since I’m in Central Standard Time (CST), I am very lucky to have classes at the same time as my actual time zone. I usually study and do homework at my desk, however, because of the nicer weather I’ve often gone outside to study.
GH: Taking classes 14 hours ahead of CST was extremely difficult at first. My earliest class is twice per week and starts at 10 p.m. Korean Standard Time (KST) (8 a.m. CST). My latest class meets once per week at 4 a.m. KST (2 p.m. CST), though I am extremely lucky that those classes are/can be taken asynchronously. As I am conditioned to take classes at night, I tend to also study at night.
CC: The weather in St. Louis has been beautiful lately, so I’ve been doing a lot of outdoor activities. My favorites include biking in my neighborhood, playing tennis and, of course, taking photos.
GH: South Korea averages approximately 500-700 COVID cases per day. Though this may seem low compared to the United States, there is still a significant emphasis on the importance of social distancing and wearing masks. As we do not want to risk transmission, my family tends to engage in outdoor activities such as going to outdoor markets and taking walks outside.
CC: In April, flowers are starting to bloom or have already bloomed in St. Louis. A lot of St. Louisans during this time visit the Missouri Botanical Garden, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the U.S. and home to lots of gorgeous flowers and plants. If you do happen to visit St. Louis, make sure to check it out.
GH: Korea is very beautiful in the springtime. One of the hallmark signs of spring is when the cherry blossoms bloom. These are called “beotkkot” in Korean. When these trees bloom, Koreans enjoy taking walks with family, friends, significant others, or anyone special in their life to simply observe and take in the beauty of these flowers.
CC: I eventually decided to be remote because my family and I knew that we wanted to be safe during this period of uncertainty with the pandemic. In the beginning of the year, being remote was very challenging. Before COVID-19, I wanted to be on campus, so I had a serious case of FOMO at first. Although I didn’t get to be on campus this year, I’ve learned and grown through this experience and I’ve found silver linings and positivity. Having socially-distanced picnics in the park, Discord game calls and lots of FaceTimes allowed me to feel connected with the people who matter to me most. Without a doubt, staying at home has given me more opportunities to explore St. Louis and spend time with close friends and family. I am so grateful for the opportunities at hand and hope to see y’all (in-person) soon.
GH: This year, I was able to experience both studying on campus and off campus. In the fall semester, I lived on campus in Gillette house. The amazing people I met and the beauty of campus, as well as the convenience of being in CST made my fall semester spectacular. Studying remotely was a whole new experience. I had to learn to quickly calculate between the different time zones as well as balance schoolwork with family time. Remote studying in my case also quickly felt isolating, as my friends in Korea live quite far from me. The two experiences, however, are incomparable as each pose unique challenges and benefits. Overall, what makes my spring semester so incredible is being able to spend time with extended family (who I only get to see once every few years) and experiencing spring in Korea.