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Nocturnal learning: Some international students take classes in the night


Weimiao Sun doesn't sleep at night.

"I really don’t see the sun a whole lot,” the senior emerging technology in business + design major said.

While many on-campus students at Miami University get up at 8:30 a.m. to attend class, international students from the other side of the globe like Sun are taking classes way earlier.

Sun said his Monday and Wednesday class schedule consists of three synchronous classes that start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 6 p.m. — or at least they would if he was in Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Instead, Sun stays up from 9:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. to attend classes from Shanghai, China, in a time zone 13 hours ahead of EST. 

Sun said the only way for him to graduate after this semester was to take classes that required him to wake up early.

“Being a senior, there’s not much of an option for me right now regarding class scheduling,” Sun said. “I have to do this because I need to graduate. I don’t want to waste my time, you know.”

Instead of meeting with an advisor or asking for help from a professor, Sun said he simply didn’t see a reason to change his current schedule.

“I don’t care about that, I really don’t care,” Sun said. “In every situation, I try to work harder. I feel like I have a heart for that.” 

To make the classes go by faster, Sun formed a group chat with other international students to talk to during the late-night classes.

“I have a couple friends who I can chat with during the classes,” Sun said. “It really helps me because it feels like we’re all staying up together.”

Kurt Olausen, an academic advisor for the College of Arts and Sciences, said many international students that are told they might have to take an early class are willing to rise to the challenge. 

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“There is a range of reactions from across the board,” Olausen said. “Some students just want to do what they can do to get it done. I was apologizing to this one student I was helping whose only options were to take classes in the middle of the night, and she simply shrugged and said she would take the classes at night and sleep during the day.”

Other than working things out with a professor, Olausen said there was not much the university could do to change schedules for students, especially now.

“At this point in the semester, options are limited. I would try to work with them to change as many classes as possible, but it would be extremely difficult to change an entire 12-15 credit hour schedule,“ Olausen said. “I applaud these students who step up to take these classes in inconvenient situations.”

Sung-Won Kim, a premedical studies and biochemistry double major, is a native of Vancouver, Canada, and is under the Pacific Standard Time zone, three hours behind EST. 

“I have a bio class at seven in the morning, which means I have to get up at around six to get ready,” Kim said. “I have an [organic chemistry] class at 5 a.m., but luckily for me, that class is asynchronous and I can watch recorded lectures whenever I want.”

Kim said that unlike Sun, he would have tried to talk to his professor to make accommodations instead of taking the class early.

“I couldn’t imagine doing that. Especially for a class like O-chem, it would just be too much, I feel like,” Kim said.

As for his 7 a.m. class, Kim said he doesn’t see a problem with it and is doing the best he can.

“I really don’t see any reason to have it changed or anything. I just think of it as a 8:30 class, just a little worse,” Kim said. “It’s just what I have to do.”