International BCom student looks forward to meeting new people this term

February 7, 2022 | Hamilton, ON
Contributed by Ishaan Jain, Commerce Level II and international student

Ishaan Jain

Ishaan Jain, Commerce Level II and international student from India, shares his thoughts on returning to in-person learning.


What are you looking forward to most about in-person learning?

I’m awaiting with pleasure to meet new people and form connections that last a lifetime, to finally be able to interact with my professors in a live environment and pursue group projects in an in-person setting. I’m counting the days until I can take notes in the classroom surrounded by my friends, with a cup of hot coffee in hand, and make memories as I go.


What do you consider your biggest challenge during the pandemic when it came to your studies?

Ishaan is an international student from Delhi, India. He lived at home for the first nine months of university until his visa came through.

During the pandemic back when I was in first year, I was living in India and they are 10.5 hours ahead of Hamilton’s Eastern Standard Time. The drastic time change was my biggest challenge as I would usually be studying and attending class while the rest of my house was sleeping. Pursuing the majority of my first year online took a toll on my mental health initially. My days would start at 12 a.m. along with my classes, and end at 7 a.m. by the time the rest of my family members awoke. It became difficult to be able to spend quality time with them and adjust to staying awake with the moon and sleeping as the sun rose. Due to the immense love and support of my family I was able to strike a balance with time and eventually the overwhelming feeling subsided.


From your perspective, what is the difference between learning virtually and in-person?

Learning virtually versus in-person has its own pros and cons. For example, virtually you don’t have to account time into your day to commute to campus, but in-person offers you a better opportunity to meet new people. The best part of virtual learning was the recorded lectures that you could stop the lecture to take notes and quickly catch up if you missed something.

Virtual learning sometimes made it hard to interact with my peers in group project settings. A lot of students were in different time zones and had different schedules since they weren’t on campus, meaning it was tough sometimes to find a time to meet where everyone could attend. Being in-person with your group allows you to have the opportunity to bond before starting the work, which makes a huge impact as you are able to understand everyone’s perspectives.

I haven’t had much experience with being on campus, but I have enjoyed going to campus to study because it helps me focus better by being in a library setting. I still remember when I entered my introduction to data class in the fall semester, I met a bunch of people and it really made attending that class more enjoyable. I still keep in touch with these friends and we socialize outside of class. We used to do our assignments together and we used to study together, which was not happening when it was a virtual classroom. I remember my first lecture the professor was teaching Excel and I was very behind, and the other person already knew all this stuff the professor was teaching, so he helped me. I wouldn’t be able to get that kind of help that quickly and easily if I was in a virtual setting.


What challenges did you face being an international student?

So back in India, our education system was based more on textbook-based learning. Everything used to be from questions from the textbook itself with very little assignment or essay-based evaluations. When I came to DeGroote, I was quick to realize that we use creativity and everything was about innovation and thinking outside the box.

Adapting to this new environment of virtual learning and this new way of studying and being evaluated in an academic setting was pretty difficult along with the time change and still being in India.

Due to COVID-19, the visa system was fairly slow and backed up in India. As soon as I was accepted to McMaster, I applied for my visa and I ended up having to wait nine months to obtain it.

I came to Canada in March 2021, at the end of my winter semester of my first year. I found it challenging to navigate this new environment along with being away from home for the first time. I attended a few online lectures here and I immediately realized that being in my off-campus house in Hamilton was much more peaceful and calming compared to staying up all night and having dinner with your parents when they are having breakfast. This was exactly what I wanted, and I’m really excited to see what the future holds when it comes to the rest of my university experience.

Ishaan Jain and the Student Experience Team

Ishaan Jain is excited to be back on campus and as part of the Student Experience Team on February 7 he officially welcomed fellow students back.

How important is it for you to experience other aspects of university life?

It is very important that we are able to have other experiences rather than just academics, but due to the pandemic, I don’t think many students have been able to take advantage of all these opportunities McMaster and DeGroote have for us.

I was a big introvert when I was in high school, but ever since I came to university, I tried to make the best out of the virtual setting. I started reaching out to people and talking to people more because I felt like I was alone here. After coming out of my comfort zone, I found myself having a bunch of friends and this made me even more excited for the rest of my university experience.

Now I feel like I have friends in different parts of the world, some are from Dubai, some are from China, some are from Bangladesh. You get to know different cultures, which is so good because there can be times that you don’t get an opportunity go to Bangladesh, but you can meet people from there, you can understand how people live there, or maybe try their hometown dishes, which is so fun. It’s a big part of university that you have to meet new people.


Why is learning in-person important to you?

As someone with an extroverted personality, I thrive on interactions and excel more in a social environment. I always look forward to meeting new people and making new conversations. Learning in an in-person setting will provide me with the opportunity to engage with my peers and professors.


Have you participated in any extracurricular activities?

I have partaken in many extracurricular activities as I find it a great way to meet new people. Attending Welcome Week in my first year became the steppingstone to engage in social interactions.

The positions I was able to secure this year are as follows:

  • Commerce International Student Ambassador
  • DeGroote’s First Year Orientation Program Mentor
  • DeGroote Green Co-Director of Operations
  • MacGEET VP Admin
  • Case competition participant

They have provided me with great insight and experience, along with various transferable skills which I can apply in multiple diverse situations.


How do you destress in your spare time?

My favourite way to wind down is by dipping into my passions and pursuing various new things that provide me solace from the stressors of daily life. Some of the things I do include trying out new recipes while cooking, exploring different cuisines by dining at various restaurants, travelling to Toronto and spending my time exploring the city and capturing memories as I go.


What are you doing to prepare for back to in-person classes?

I am setting my alarm an hour earlier to allow myself to get used to waking up earlier. The extra hour will allow me to commute to campus and grab my coffee before my first class of the day begins. I will also be asking some of my upper year friends to help me with finding where exactly my classes are, so I have one less thing to worry about when classes begin. For my schedule I have classes back-to-back, and I have a 10-minute period window to reach another lecture hall, so that’s one of the biggest issues. The cold and snowy weather is also something I have found myself struggling with, but I know it will just take time to adjust.


Do you have any advice for students that are coming back to in-person learning?

One piece of advice would be to try to limit the distractions around you and do your best to pay attention to what the professor is teaching. Don’t pressure yourself and don’t be too hard on yourself, because this is the first time you’re taking an in-person lecture and it’s going to be different from an online lecture. You may miss a little bit of content here and there, you may do bad on an assignment, but you’re gaining experiences. I think it’s all about experience and it’s all about socializing and networking.

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