Today, we are beginning a series highlighting the experiences of members of the International Student Advisory Committee (ISAC). ISAC is a group of current students who are excited to help you learn more about the UChicago undergraduate experience. ISAC is made up of students from all four years of the College and from all over the world!
As this year has resulted in some different ways of attending college, we wanted to check in with some of our students to see how they were able to engage with the UChicago community remotely.
To begin this ISAC experience series, we spoke with Lawrence C., a first year from Taipei, Taiwan who chose to start his first year remotely by staying at home.
Despite being far away from campus, I have been able to make some friends and meet people of various backgrounds. My classmates are all very friendly and open to making new friends. In the first few weeks of the quarter, a group of fellow first-years living off campus invited me to join their study group. Being able to consistently talk and hang out with a group of new classmates really made me feel connected to the community. Some of the things we did over this quarter included chemistry study meetups over Zoom, weekly gatherings at the end of the week to get to know each other better, and spontaneous meetings to have someone to stress out about midterms with. Even though we haven’t been able to see each other in person, I look forward to meeting them in person and exploring Chicago together when conditions allow.
I would say that the biggest challenge a college student studying remotely abroad faces is time management. This quarter, my classes are between midnight Taipei time and 10 am, which is usually when I sleep. Therefore, I had to shift my sleep schedule to the afternoon in order to ensure that I get enough sleep, and I started to take classes during the night. While this was a difficult adjustment, I learned to see the bright side of things (pun intended). For example, I got to explore Taipei at night, and I got to take long naps every day, which was a childhood dream of mine.
While it can be tricky to navigate the time zones sometimes, that hasn’t stopped me from getting involved with the UChicago community! This quarter, aside from ISAC, I am involved in the Taiwanese American Student Association (TASA), the UChicago MEDLIFE Chapter, and the Phoenix Sustainability Initiative (PSI). I’ve been able to get involved in this array of RSOs because they all vary in terms of commitment. While a cultural organization like TASA does not require members to attend many events, RSOs like PSI and MEDLIFE have weekly organization-wide Zoom meetings, along with weekly meetings for individual subcommittees. Most, if not all, RSOs have been experimenting with new ideas under these unique circumstances. Some of the things we did included Zoom cooking bonding sessions, virtual speaker series, and online volunteer opportunities. TASA and PSI also hosted in-person picnics and park cleanups (with proper social distancing). Even though I couldn’t join the in-person events, I am grateful that I got to experience what it is like being a part of these unique organizations.
Thank you so much to Lawrence for being willing to share some of his experiences! Make sure to check back in soon for the next installment in this series!