College—From Home

As the spring semester was concluding, we asked two students about their experiences with remote learning.


Neha Rajbhandary ’21

At home in Kathmandu, Nepal


What are you studying?

I started my English major only when I became a junior, so I’m taking three English classes right now. I’m in Critical Interpretation (an introductory course), a Calderwood Seminar in Public Writing called Dead Poetry Society, and a seminar on happiness. I’m also taking a history seminar on world economic orders.

How has your online experience been?

The time difference has made being engaged in class a bit difficult—I hadn’t expected avoiding morning classes to backfire this semester. Two of my classes only start after midnight [Kathmandu time]. My Calderwood seminar functions like a writing workshop, so I stay up for that class. It’s almost three hours long, so I only stay for half of it (otherwise I’d be up till 3 a.m.), and then my professor sends me a recording of it. Another class of mine only starts at 1:30 a.m., so I haven’t attended; my professor records it, and I watch that.

Although online classes can be quite awkward, I’m grateful for the routine they provide. The continuity provides some semblance of normalcy. I do like that I get to see my friends and my professors and hear them talk!

How has the community supported you?

I’ve actually been a bit overwhelmed by the support I’ve gotten from professors and staff. They extended help, and wanted to make sure I was safe and had a place to stay, and had made it back home safely. It was really heartening to know that they had kept me in mind.

What has been most challenging about this period?

The uncertainty of not knowing what’ll happen this summer, and this coming year, is difficult to deal with. I really miss my friends, a lot [of whom] were seniors. And knowing our time together has been cut short is a bit painful. I’m also really worried about my friends who are in severely affected areas, or are far from home, and friends who are searching for jobs right now.

What will you particularly remember about this time?

The last couple of days we had on campus. It really was so precious. All of the fun we would miss out on by not being on campus was compensated for in those three days. It was just three days of concentrated fun. It almost feels like a fever dream because there was so much fervor in the fun we had, but also a lot of tears. I’ll especially look back on the day my friends and I had our last meal together, them as seniors, in the Tower dining hall. We were so sad, but also so giddy.


Caroline Francois ’23

At home in Walnut Creek, Calif.


What courses are you taking?

I am taking an American studies class on the Gilded Age, an introductory chemistry course, a first-year writing class focused on U.S. immigration, and a history class on the American South in the 19th century.

How has your remote learning experience been? What about office hours and other normal academic activities?

Online learning has been an adjustment since in-class discussions just cannot be replicated on Zoom! I have really appreciated being able to maintain a semblance of my old routine with online classes, though, and love seeing my professors and peers.

Two of my classes have final research papers, and those professors in particular have been reaching out and offering help with the research and writing process. All of my professors have continued to hold office hours and have been incredibly understanding of the challenges that different students face at home.

What’s been most difficult?

Being back in California and in a different time zone has been a challenge, since my chemistry class, for example, is now at 5:30 a.m. It has also been difficult to find consistent Wi-Fi in our house, since my family members are also using the Wi-Fi for their own Zoom meetings.

How are you maintaining your Wellesley connections?

The residential life staff in my dorm, Shafer Hall, have still been hosting events, and I have been calling Wellesley friends daily. College Government has also still been having meetings, so I have continued to attend Senate and Academic Council as one of the student representatives.

What will you remember most about this period?

I will always remember the Wellesley community’s support of students in the pandemic. As colleges across the country left their students essentially stranded with limited options for getting home, I am especially grateful for the response both from the College but especially from alumnae who offered to help in any way they could.

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