I never thought that I would be telling people that I do “night school” at age sixteen.
The first thing that comes to mind upon hearing this phrase is the SNL skit “Night School Musical,” following middle-aged adults trying to earn their GEDs–all with the kick of Disney Channel musical goodness. I would safely say that my current situation is a little different from the aforementioned skit, but it feels almost equally bizarre.
Finally being back home with my family in China after a chaotic year in the U.S. has been incredibly rewarding. After careful consideration, I decided to stay home and proceed with online learning for the winter term. Unlike most of my peers living in Asia, I was on campus for the start of the school year. I had seen their faces blasted onto whiteboards with occasional unmuting throughout the term, but I never really thought about being on the other side of the classroom–and my decision to go virtual started to worry me.
Entering the first hybrid class, it looked so familiar: all my classmates chatting casually before class, the setup of the classroom, the Groton atmosphere … but felt quite out of place. The delay of video call made it difficult to join in on the banter, I saw my empty seat in the middle row, and it felt incredibly strange to be watching a Groton class from my desk across the globe. My first hybrid class experience left me quite shaken with pixelated image rendering and gurgly audio, causing me to anxiously text some other virtual learners. However, as the day went on, those looming worries about my future online learning experience revealed themselves to be only some minor technical issues. The rest of the day included some very insightful classroom discussions and collaborative activities, making me feel as if I was back on campus a bit more.
Online learning so far has had its fair share of random wifi disconnections, but “night school” is simply a new schedule and method of learning to get used to. During the day, I’ll grab pasta and tea to accompany my homework, and by night I’ll be ready by my desk as my peers get ready to start a day of classes.