Overseas Vietnamese students under quarantine struggle to study online

By Thanh Hang, Duong Tam   April 2, 2020 | 02:30 am PT
Overseas Vietnamese students under quarantine struggle to study online
Nguyen Thi Ngoc Lan studies online inside the quarantine area in northern Ninh Binh Province, March 2020. Photo courtesy of Lan.
Many quarantined Vietnamese students returning from Europe and the U.S. are adapting to online learning to catch up with their programs.

Around 4 a.m., after completing two hours of online learning in quarantine, Nguyen Thi Ngoc Lan, 23, from northern Hai Duong Province put away her laptop and fell asleep for the first time after four nights awake.

Studying a master’s program at Bristol University in the U.K., Lan returned to Vietnam on March 20 and entered quarantine in Ninh Binh Province, around 60 kilometers south of Hanoi.

In her hand luggage, weighing 12kg, Lan brought nothing but books and her laptop for study purposes. Attending Bristol on the Think Big Scholarship Program, Lan is required to attend all online classes.

In order not to miss her first online lesson and submit an essay before the deadline, Lan must buy a special wifi ticket valid for 12 hours. In quarantine, she spends two to three hours one each subject per day.

Earlier, Lan could not adapt to the time zone change since most classes took place during U.K local time.

After four white nights, Lan lost three kilograms. Not until the fifth did she manage to finally adapt.

One of her main challenges was having to study between 1-3 a.m, followed by only two hours of sleep before everyone else wakes at 5 a.m.

Even though students have to log in an register attendance, teachers cannot keep them from falling. To cope,  teachers usually arrange individual Q&A sessions.

On Monday, Lan joined a group meeting with three friends, two in the U.K. and the other in China. They had difficulty in deciding a specific time for a group discussion because "each person was in a different time zone.

In addition, because the quarantine zone has no wifi, she has to rely on her unstable phone connection.

Despite preparing to exit 14 days of isolation, Nguyen Minh, 22, from Hanoi, is still not used to learning online.

As a senior student at a university in Tennessee in the U.S., Minh decided to return to Vietnam as soon as her school reported the first positive infection on March 14. For Minh, the most difficult thing was to access online classes.

Minh is studying two majors in Applied Mathematics and Human Development and is in dire need of direct support.

"It is difficult to engage with something like Math without direct contact with my professors," Minh said, prepared to see scores drop during this period.

Like Lan, Minh also had difficulty adapting to different time zones, with Vietnam 12 hours ahead of the U.S and online classes usually occurring at 3-4 a.m.

For the moment, online learning is strictly controlled as professors can see who is logged into the online learning system.

Majoring in Communications at a university in Leeds of the U.K., Vu Ngan, 23, from Hanoi, returned home on March 19 and encountered many inconveniences in online learning while in quarantine.

Ngan must attend classes at either 9 p.m. or 1 a.m., some days attending both shifts. In bad health, she feels worn down.

"I asked my teachers to extend some deadlines one or two weeks. If I can go home, I will have better conditions in which to study," she said, confirming she had gained consent.

Vietnam currently has about 190,000 international students. Since the Covid-19 pandemic worsened in many parts of the world, many overseas Vietnamese students have flown home and been under quarantine for 14 days.

Of the 222 Covid-19 patients confirmed in Vietnam until now, 64 have been discharged from hospitals.

Most of the active cases are those who have returned from Europe and the U.S. and people who’ve had close contact with them.

The Covid-19 pandemic has spread to 203 countries and territories, claiming nearly 47,000 lives.

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