Engaged Learning

2L Tackles Law School from Afar

Each weekday at 2AM, Alice Chuang ‘21 logs onto her online 2L classes.

Chuang returned home to Taiwan last month and like her classmates, is adjusting to remote learning — at a distance of 6,500 miles with a 15 hours time difference. We spoke with Chuang about the transition and learning from afar.

How is life at home?

In terms of COVID-19, I would say Taiwan is faring well and luckily, health wise, I am doing well here. I ultimately decided to go back home because my parents wanted the family to be together during this time and also because I do not have adequate healthcare insurance in the US. I know that a lot of students also have healthcare/financial concerns in the US, so I am grateful that I even have the option to go elsewhere.

How are your online classes going?

At home, while I am less concerned about my health, I do have to deal with quite the adjustment in terms of school. I have considered law school my priority and did not want to lose that focus even during this time. Higher education is a privilege and, honestly speaking, an expensive one, so I was concerned about how remote classes would impact my learning — even more so now that I am abroad. But, I consider myself to be a determined student and did not fear that I would be unable to adjust here.

Logistically, I try to stay on a California routine here (in terms of the time difference) even though Taiwan is 15 hours ahead. This means that I typically go to sleep at 3pm here and wake up at 11pm to start my day. It gets rough some days when I cannot fall asleep at 3pm or find it difficult to be awake and alert for classes when it is 2am. I also lose out on time to do normal daily activities and spend time with family as I spend the day sleeping after I finish my classes. However, we have all had to make adjustments during this difficult time and I feel really blessed to be safely back home.

How do you create community online?

The USF community/faculty have been especially supportive during this time. Knowing that I have that support was definitely what made the transition a lot easier. My professors who know about my situation have been more than understanding and accommodating. I know that they would do whatever they could to help alleviate any stress and better my learning experience. I also know that they have kindly extended that to my peers as well.

My students/classmates have also shown lots of sensitivity and maturity when it comes to this situation. We are all supporting each other and acknowledging that everyone is dealing with a different situation at this time. I have had the support of my friends at school, and in return, I have also supported my peers as well.

Do you miss your classmates and/or professors?

I do miss my classmates and professors! It is not the same to have class on Zoom. I think personally for me, it is more difficult to engage with the material through an online platform. But, I think that we are all doing the best we can and I really appreciate the small talk that happens before class starts or during class breaks. These conversations tend to make the lectures feel less like you are watching an online lecture alone at home.

Since I am a case counsel working with the 1Ls for Moot Court, I would say that the Moot Court experience is the most drastically different. That is not surprising as Moot Court is very much an "in-person" experience in nature, but I have still loved working with the 1Ls remotely and trying to make sure that they get the most out of this. At the end of the day, we are able to work together to overcome these difficult times and come out stronger on the other side. And I think reminding myself of the silver linings and things that I am grateful for helps me stay motivated to complete this semester.