International student shares experience living in two countries at once

Since the campus’ virtual transition in March, Cal Poly Pomona students returned home to continue their education remotely. For fourth-year civil engineering student Omer Green, however, this meant traveling more than 7,500 miles back to his home country in Israel.

“At first, I was scared when I heard the news on how bad it was in Israel compared to California,” Green said. “But I didn’t think twice since I missed my family so much. The main reason I went home is to be around my family in this tough situation.”

Because of the uncertainty in the beginning, he left most of his belongings at his apartment in Pomona and scheduled his summer courses for Pacific Standard Time, initially expecting to return to the United States. Once it was clear this was not an option, Green’s transition to online classes was difficult due to the brutal time difference.

“I scheduled my classes after 12:30 p.m. because I thought I was going to come back to the U.S.,” Green said. “During the summer, I woke up at 4 a.m. and stayed awake until around 7 a.m.”

Green lives in a small village called Moshav Mazor, a pastoral and relaxing location that is 20 minutes away from the main city Tel Aviv. With the time difference, he struggled with getting enough rest and waking up on time during his summer session. It was not easy for him to stay focused during class at night, let alone take exams, he recalled. Fortunately, two weeks before the fall semester started, he was able to adjust his schedule to times that were more comfortable for him, although a few of his classes began at 11 p.m.

Besides his class schedule, the most difficult thing Green faces is being unable to access resources on campus such as scheduling meetings with counselors, professors and advisors. Since he has a short window of time, it is also difficult for him to work on group projects with his classmates.

To better support international students during online instruction, Green suggested that class times should be more flexible, and professors should post lecture recordings on Blackboard for those who are not able to meet during the time.

Aside from academics, his day-to-day life consists of waking up at 9 a.m. where he has about nine hours to complete homework, work out and have time to himself. Green, who is also a midfielder for the men’s soccer team at CPP, meets with the team two to three times a week on Zoom and does his best to practice frequently by running in his spare time.

Green hopes to return to the United States to work, but as far as working remotely, he shared his challenges in making connections virtually.

“Finding a job from here to the U.S. is really hard because I cannot communicate well and see them face-to-face,” Green said. “It is really hard to find connections in companies since there are thousands of students doing the same.”

Despite the many difficulties, he is satisfied that the virtual learning experience allows for flexibility. Instead of commuting to campus every day and looking for a parking space, he is glad to be in the comfort of his own home with his family.

“My family is really happy that I am here with them because they used to miss me a lot and cry during my time living in the U.S.,” Green said.

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