Learning at Home: An Online Student’s Perspective


Chris Montgomery-unsplash

Look into a mirror, what do you see? A face. A strange but familiar face. A face with a mask. Open your phone, and go to your pictures. What do you see? Another face. Your face. Look back into the mirror. What do you see? Your face, from a different time, a different world.

Our world today seems like a parallel universe compared to one year ago. It is a world in which everything has changed. One year ago, I was at Rectory talking to all my friends, enjoying all kinds of activities. This year, at the same time, I am at my house in China, typing on a screen, talking to people through computer Zooms, and learning remotely.

Let me tell you about one of these days as an online student:

Since I have to stay awake really late at night for our online classes, I wake up late during the day. By the time I walk out of my bedroom, my house is already silent. I notice my parents have departed for work and left me a table of food and a pile of uncleaned dishes. I stretch, yawn, consider going back to bed, but wash my face instead. After all of that, I finally sit down and eat my breakfast like a robot (it is nothing to enjoy, really). Finally, after cleaning up the table and washing all the dishes, I can officially begin my day.

The time before noon is the most boring part of the day. There is nothing to do except work, work, and more work. There is no one around to talk to. There aren’t even any pets in my house except for a lonely fish I never give any attention to. There is not a single sound in my huge and empty house except my breathing and an awareness of my heart beating. If there were any strange sounds, I would probably be inspired to write a haunted story instead.

Unwillingly, I throw myself into a pile of schoolwork and secondary school applications, and time flies.

Finally, around 11:15 am, I leave my house for the first time all day to meet my mother for lunch. I walk about 1 km to a different restaurant each day that is close to where she works, and I wait for her. Surprisingly, even trying a different restaurant each day becomes boring because there aren’t too many of them nearby. There are only about four restaurants that have food that is both delicious and healthy. So if you do the math, you can tell that even dining out is getting boring. Really boring.

My afternoon is much better because after I finish all my work I can go outside again. Even though I only have about an hour every afternoon to go out, it is still better than staying home. During this hour, I walk around in my neighborhood or go to parks or streets that are a little bit further away by bus. Sometimes I even fly my drone to take some pictures while I enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.

Around 4 pm, it is “sports time” for me. Even though I am not at Rectory, I still keep the habit of exercising at least once a day. Sometimes I go out and run for a mile, some days I play soccer with myself (not a fun way of practicing, unless you have a good imagination ), or when I don’t feel like going outside, I  just stay home and do some type of workout.

After sports, it is time for dinner. Before November 1st (and the time change in the U.S.) it was definitely really early for me to eat dinner since I had to have dinner at 5:00 pm or sometimes 4:30 pm. (My Rectory classes started at 6:00 pm.) However, after Daylight Savings stopped, the time difference between China and the U.S. increased by an hour. (China does not change the clocks twice a year, as the U.S. does.) But now my Rectory classes don’t start until 7:00 pm, so I can easily enjoy a more leisurely dinner.

Of course, the best part of my day starts at 7:00 pm for Rectory School online. During the next four and a half hours, I get to see all my classmates and teachers. It is such a great time seeing and talking to my friends!  

I think about how some students have just completed their day by this time; some are just waking up; and some see a few threads of sunshine coming through their window, while the moon is still visible. I think how each face observed in a mirror today has had a different story to share with the world.

Although we each tell a different story in our daily lives, we are still connected through this home we call Rectory.