International students adjust to learning in a different time zone


Contributed by Maya Koike

International student Maya Koike, grade 10, studying from Tokyo, Japan. International students who have returned home have adjusted their sleep schedules to attend Mid-Pacific’s virtual learning.

By Danika Kusumoto, Mid-Pacific Institute

Waking up at 2:45 a.m., sophomore Maya Koike drowsily prepares to log into her first class of the morning from Tokyo, Japan.

“After my last period of the day, I usually go back to sleep,” said Koike.

As Mid-Pacific shifts to online learning, many international students who returned to their home countries during the COVID-19 pandemic have adjusted to attending school from a different time zone.

Honolulu is 18 hours behind Taipei, Taiwan, so junior Celine Liu wakes up at 2 a.m. to attend her first class on time.

“When school starts it is difficult to stay awake,” said Liu.

Junior Seita Katayama said he struggles to handle the intertwining of different routines every day.

“I’m going to sleep at 8 p.m. one day and the next day I’m sleeping at 1 a.m.,” Katayama said.

English Learning Development teacher Chris Ferry said Mid-Pacific has allowed international students to skip their first four periods of the day because of how early it is for them, but they are required to watch the recordings of any classes they miss.

“With the recordings they’re able to listen over and over again, which is especially helpful for a second or third language student,” Ferry said.

Freshman Mai Tashiro said she likes online school because the time for watching any classes she missed is not designated and she can stop or repeat the recordings.

However, some students continue to attend class at 3 a.m.

“I can guarantee that I am not going to watch seven hours straight of school videos,” Katayama said.

I think that’s helped them to emotionally take care of themselves so they can still study.”

— Chris Ferry

Tashiro said she can’t ask any questions while watching the recordings and has to participate in office hours.

“The office hours are only Tuesday and Thursday, which is not enough,” Tashiro said.

Online schooling has received mixed reactions from international students, but the number of students returning to their home countries continues to grow.

Ferry said roughly one third of Mid-Pacific’s 61 nonimmigrant international students are in their home country, but more are leaving as time goes on.

“Given this extended campus closure, we strongly recommend that international students return to their home countries while they complete their virtual studies,” said President Paul Turnbull in a recent email to families of Mid-Pacific.

“It’s a shifting number. Every couple days someone else is leaving,” Ferry said.

Ferry said it’s really difficult to be away from family when people might be sick and you can’t fly back and forth.

“I think that’s helped them to emotionally take care of themselves so they can still study,” Ferry said.

He said some of the work he’s receiving has been amazing, and he can tell his international students  put a lot of time into it.

“I think some students thrive from social contact, and some students thrive when they have a little bit more quiet and they can focus on things without the social interaction,” he said.

This story was originally published on Na Pueo on April 22, 2020.