Digital art of a girl with the background split up into night and day

Adjusting to the Time Difference When Doing a Virtual Exchange

I am excited to join the Life @ U of T bloggers this term and blog about my virtual exchange experience at the University of Western Australia (UWA) in Perth, Australia! Although there are many great aspects of doing a virtual exchange, which I am looking forward to sharing in my future posts, I thought I would start off by sharing my experience with one of the main challenges that comes with virtual exchange – adjusting to the time difference.

Perth is a whole 12 hours ahead of our time zone here in Toronto and this makes following the University of Western Australia's schedule quite tough for me. Classes there usually start when it is near bedtime for me, and end around the time my alarm goes off in the morning! In order to adjust to this schedule, I will share what I have done so far in the semester to keep me going at a very comfortable pace.

When the term started, I emailed all of my professors to inform them that I am doing an exchange from Toronto so that they are aware of this as the term progresses. When choosing my course lecture times, I found that some of the lectures were pre-recorded, which made it super easy as I could watch them anytime. For the lectures that required attendance, I tried to choose the earliest class times offered so that I wouldn’t have to attend them too late into the night. My cutoff was 12 am as I knew that I wouldn’t be able to concentrate after midnight. For any classes that went beyond this time, I made sure to email my professors right away and work out other arrangements. For example, for a French course that I am taking, the professor gave me an exception to watch the lectures after class times.

UWA online timetable with comments explaining that the earliest classes are chosen
Here is a quick look at my timetable

Unfortunately, there is one tutorial that I am required to participate in, which runs every Monday from 12 to 1 am in my time. Although it does go a bit too late into the night, it is only one day and I just get some caffeine into my system before attending and I’m good to go!

Coffee cup filled to the top with rich and creamy coffee
Coffee is a must!

In terms of all the assignment and test deadlines, I first went through all of my course outlines and noted down the deadlines in my agenda, converted to Toronto time. I highlighted these deadlines and key UWA information in blue, so that I could easily distinguish them from the rest of my priorities.

September calendar with UWA deadlines and key information highlighted in blue
Here is a copy of my agenda with UWA information highlighted in blue

For the deadlines that put me at a disadvantage and gave me less time than others in the class (e.g. a 5:00 pm submission time, which is 5:00 am for me), I emailed my professors with a request to get more time in order to accommodate for the time difference. As I am 12 hours behind Perth though, I generally like to begin assignments from quite early on. So, if I have an assignment that is due by 11:59 am, I like to have it completed the night before so that I don't have to worry about it the next morning.

I have found that the key to adjusting to the time difference when studying remotely is being organized, creating a detailed timetable with the relevant time zone conversions, and getting in a good amount of caffeine before attending a late night class!

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