Fulbright-Hays Scholarship Recipient Profile: Sydney Martin

Note: The Spring 2020 semester was interrupted by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Participants returned home in the middle of the semester and continued their studies remotely. Sydney  Martin discusses the adjustment to remote learning while on the Eurasian Regional Language Program as a Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad scholarship recipient.

In Dushanbe, after a couple weeks of getting my things in order, I fell into a set routine. I went to class everyday from 9:00 to 1:00, ate lunch around 1:30, studied from 2:30 until ~6:00, ate dinner around 7:00, relaxed for a few hours, then went to bed around 10:00. It was an easy routine to keep and I rarely disrupted the schedule. Every day was like clock work, yet I never got tired of it. It was nice coming home around 6 every day knowing how much work I had put into my language studies. I was proud of my efforts, and thus could spend my two or three hours of relaxation before bed doing whatever stupid or mindless thing I wanted without any guilt. I was happy with the schedule, and excited to maintain it until the end of the program. However, after being sent home two months early due to the coronavirus, I have been forced to adjust my schedule. Unfortunately, this time around, I am met with several distractions.

Not having an apartment at the moment, I had to move back in with my parents, who I had not lived with in years. All of a sudden, I have to consider other people’s schedules when planning mine. My father, a home inspector, still goes to work everyday. However, my mother is a first grade teacher who is now teaching from home. Therefore, we work around each other, often having to go to separate rooms from each other while she is on a zoom meeting and I am Skyping with a teacher. However, her schedule is not at all an inconvenience to me, and I quite enjoy having a partner to do work next to.

I have always been the kind of person who needs to be surrounded by productive people to get any productivity done myself. Being unable to hole up in a coffee shop is difficult for me. I love seeing others hard at work and using coffee and pastries as motivation to get my work done. Additionally, it is nice being free from distractions, something that I encounter often in my home.

Although I have my mother as a work buddy in the house, I also have distractions. Be it my chores, my father sparking up a conversation right as I cracked my book open, or having to help my mom set up a zoom meeting, I often lose my way when trying to study. This has been the hardest part of remote learning. Staying on task is not easy when you’re used to getting your work done anywhere but your home. However, I am adjusting. It is hard to set a schedule when you never leave the house, but it is the only thing I can do to hold myself accountable during this time. Therefore, I continue to study Farsi for a few more hours after my classes are over. I also find it important to set a schedule for chores, work, and even extra hobbies or time with parents. Sticking to that schedule has been the only thing getting me through this time of social distancing. The sudden move back home left me shaken; but I can always find joy and stability in having a routine.

About Fulbright-Hays Scholarships from American Councils

American Councils for International Education has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad, to provide scholarships for advanced overseas Russian and Persian language study. Learn more about the eligibility requirements here.

About Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad

The Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act, commonly referred to as the Fulbright-Hays Act, was made law by the 87th U.S. Congress under President John F. Kennedy on September 21, 1961. Senator J. William Fulbright and Representative Wayne Hays introduced the legislation, which represents the basic charter for U.S. government-sponsored educational and cultural exchange. 2016 marks the 55th anniversary of this landmark legislation. More information about Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad can be found here.

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