For the majority of students at Concord Academy, daylight savings means nothing more than dialing their clock one hour back or happily gaining an extra hour of sleep on November 1st. However, this change in time is an extra burden for international students who are already struggling with a difficult schedule due to time zone differences. As a student currently residing in China, I have classes from 8:30 PM until 3:25 AM due to daylight savings, and many other international students share a similar experience.
Imagine staying up until 3:00 AM almost every weekday for two months, not to mention the students in Korea and Japan who are one additional hour ahead. I doubt that anyone in that situation would maintain a positive learning experience. Daylight savings pushes international students’ schedules further back, forcing us to make a choice between maintaining our health and studying, desperately trying not to lose both.
To begin, staying up late disturbs students’ biological clocks, and it is damaging to our health. Sleeping late can result in high blood sugar, sickness, depression, and poor eating habits. I have consistently woken up past noon to get enough hours of sleep, consequently adopting an unusual eating schedule: “breakfast” is at 3:00 PM, “lunch” is at 7:00 PM, and “dinner” is at 1:00 AM or 3:30 AM. I often have no appetite for food, even when I have not consumed anything for hours, and I occasionally throw up when I wake up. In addition to a decrease in appetite, I have also experienced hair loss, which is significant, given that I am only sixteen. These are all signs that my sleep schedule is damaging my body and I do not truly feel “alive” emotionally— only vampires never see the sun in their lives. Furthermore, I have a hard time engaging in classes after midnight and focusing on homework because of this difficult schedule.
Some would say that international students’ opportunity to take a few classes asynchronously relieves the burden on our sleep schedules. This decision is at great costs of the academic experience of live classes, and it is frankly unrealistic for many upperclassmen. For example, I am taking Advanced Topics, an advanced math class without an asynchronous option. My D block class is a history class where merely watching online recordings simply cannot make up for the in-class discussions that I would miss. A friend of mine who is a senior wanted to take a specific English elective, and she has been staying up for E block, 3:35 AM to 4:20 AM, since September. With pressures from the college process, missing out on interactions with her teacher and engaging in the intricate materials made it so that asynchronously taking the class was not a possibility. International students are chained by our course schedules to the extent that not much flexibility exists.
In addition to the academic struggle, sleeping late impedes international students’ participation in events. Clubs and other organizations meet at times when we cannot wake up, unless we decide to sleep for only five hours. Social events are also planned at times that are too early, and the ability for international students to participate becomes a privilege. I understand that the administration makes decisions with various perspectives and multiple considerations in mind and that it is making its best efforts to support international students with weekly International Cohort meetings now. Nevertheless, I believe that changes should be made from the administration’s end, rather than leaving individual students to act as their own advocates.