Bridging the Distance
Ramsey Abdulrahim '21 on finding a routine and his virtual Bentley community
(Above: Ramsey Abdulrahim studies at the apartment where he's staying in Washington, D.C.)
When Ramsey Abdulrahim ’21 left Amman, Jordan, to study at Bentley, he was drawn by the university’s mix of business and liberal arts as well as the small, intimate learning environments and community feel of its campus.
When the coronavirus forced Abdulrahim and his classmates from campus — he was in Washington, D.C., for spring break and ended up staying there with his brother — that intimate college experience went virtual. Now, as the semester comes to a close, Abdulrahim says the experiment showed him a lot about what’s important both in making the most of college and in building a community.
“Online learning definitely provides a different style of learning than the one most of us are used to,” he says. “It’s efficient, in that students are only a click away from being in their ‘classroom,’ and having lectures recorded is also a great addition that I have definitely benefited from. I hope all professors keep it even after remote learning concludes."
Abdulrahim says he and other students have worked hard to replicate online their everyday on-campus interactions.
“I’m realizing the importance of social interactions to a healthy lifestyle,” says Abdulrahim. “On campus, we’re surrounded by friends and generally take those interactions for granted. I think I underestimated how important they are.”
Abdulrahim, a junior Economics-Finance major with a minor in International Affairs, stays in touch with friends via FaceTime and Zoom and tries to keep a regular schedule: Breakfast, emails and class in the morning. Some kind of exercise midday. Then school work and afternoon classes. After dinner he’ll do some more work before catching up again with family and friends.
As an active member of three of Bentley’s more than 100 student-run clubs and organizations — the International Students Association, Bentley Leadership Society and Young Arab Leadership Association — Abdulrahim regularly keeps up to date with other members through a group chat. Longer meetings or special events, such as a recent seminar with author and leadership consultant David Allen, are on Zoom.
Like everyone at Bentley, Abdulrahim is looking forward to a return to campus. In the meantime, he’s enjoying the silver linings, like spending time in Washington with his brother and seeing how a new kind of learning is bringing out the best in his classmates.
“Students are more on time now that classes are online,” he says. “I guess not having to go up the Smith stairs is more of a factor for punctuality than I would have guessed! All joking aside, I have noticed that during online classes, students who typically weren’t the most outgoing have started to participate more. In a way, virtual learning gave them the confidence to express their thoughts and ideas more frequently, which I think is awesome.”