As discussed in my week five post, I’m taking a new approach to this journal. Instead of doing weekly posts, I’m going to give monthly reports. Today, I’ll take a look back at the first six weeks of the course, focussing on the challenges I’ve faced as an international student.
If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I started the course on the island of Mauritius. Mauritius is eleven hours ahead of US Pacific Time. Which means that when it’s 7 AM on the west coast of the US, it’s 6 PM that same day in Mauritius. 5 PM on a Monday in the US is Tuesday 4 AM in Mauritius. Like that.
Time zone differences are a non-issue in terms of accessing the ADAPT study materials, which mostly consist of videos and reading assignments. Challenges arise, however, when scheduling live sessions. Specifically when meeting live session attendance requirements.
Live Session Attendance Requirements
Three types of live sessions make up the ADAPT pre-practicum. They are instructor sessions, mentor coach sessions, and teacher assistant sessions. All of the sessions are recorded and posted within 48 hours for students to watch at their convenience. We are required to participate live in 50% of the instructor sessions and 70% of the mentor coach and teacher assistant sessions. If for whatever reason we are unable to participate live, we are expected to watch the recordings.
There are a total of six mentor coach sessions each week scheduled at various times. Three of them are weekday mornings, two are weekday afternoons, and there is one session on Sundays at 1pm (all times US PT). When I was in Mauritius, there was one time that worked for me — Tuesdays at 6pm Mauritian time.
Teacher assistant sessions happen every other week and there are only four on the schedule. Fortunately, there is a Sunday 7 AM session, which is 6 PM Mauritian time. All good.
So far I’ve been able to attend 100% of the MC and TA sessions live, but instructor sessions have been a different story. Instructor sessions are scheduled once per week, typically in the late morning or early afternoon (PT). That translates to either late night or middle of the night in Mauritius. When in Mauritius, my wife and I are usually in bed by 9 o’clock and I’m up by 5:30 for sitting practice. Early morning sessions fit my sleeping patterns. Late night sessions do not.
Over the first six weeks of the course, in my zealousness, I participated live in four 90-minute instructor sessions with the following start times in the Mauritian time zone: 12 AM, 12 AM, 9:30 PM, 1 AM. For the 9:30 session, I simply stayed up past my bedtime. For the other three, I went to bed at my usual time, set an alarm, got up to watch, then went back to bed. Each time it took me a while to fall back to sleep and I suffered for it the next day.
So, while in Mauritius, I attended four instructor sessions live and watched two recordings. That ratio puts me above the 50% requirement, but now that I’m back in Singapore, I won’t be able to keep that up without sacrificing a whole lot of sleep.
Challenges of the Singapore Time Zone
Singapore is fifteen hours ahead of US Pacific Time – 7 AM in the US is 10 PM the same day in Singapore; 4 PM in the US is 7 AM the next day in Singapore. Having lived in Southeast Asia for the past eight years, I’m quite familiar with the challenges of scheduling calls to the US. When calling my US bank, for instance, I either need to stay up late enough for them to open for business or get up early before they close.
In some ways, though, the Singapore time zone is more compatible with the ADAPT calendar. My MC sessions, which I’ve already booked to the end of the pre-practicum, will be Tuesdays at 7 AM; my TA sessions every other Thursday at 7 AM. I also have the option of booking sessions starting at 10 PM. But I’m an early riser and at my best in the morning. I’ll stick with 7. Once daylight-saving time ends in the US, my start times will be bumped to 8 AM, which is even better. It gives me more time to do my morning practices and get some coffee in me before getting started.
Instructor sessions will be problematic, though. Most of them will be starting between midnight and 5 AM.
An Exception for International Students
When I was in the process of signing up, I expressed my concerns about time zone issues and was assured by the ADAPT enrollment staff that the course calendar is designed with international students in mind. While it’s probably true that students in any part of the world should have little problem finding MC and TA sessions scheduled in their waking hours, I don’t think it’s possible to schedule the Instructor Sessions at a time that is not the middle of the night for somebody, somewhere.
Perhaps for this reason, the ADAPT staff have granted waivers to some international students (myself included) — we’ll be expected to participate live in at least 70% of MC and TA sessions, but watching the recordings of instructor sessions will suffice.
The ADAPT staff have been supportive and accommodating in this regard. When I explained in an email that I was concerned with the cumulative effects of a poor night’s sleep every week, they concurred that taking care of my health was important and told me it would be enough to watch the recordings. As straightforward and easy as that.
While watching the recordings is less than ideal, nothing is really missed, with the exception of the opportunity to ask questions or volunteer for a demo. Even then, one is able to submit questions for the instructors before the sessions. I’ve done that and was pleased to see my question addressed.
The MC and TA sessions, on the other hand, are interactive and usually involve group and pair work in breakout rooms. I wouldn’t want to miss any of those.
So the only real drawback to being an international student is the difficulty of attending instructor sessions live. That and the fact that one’s options are limited when choosing which mentor coaches or teacher assistants to session with. I’ve been pretty happy though with all the faculty I’ve worked with thus far. As I’ve said in a previous post, one of the most impressive things about the ADAPT course is the caliber of the faculty Chris Kresser has assembled.
My wife and I spent this past week settling into Singapore. and will be based here for the duration of the course. We’re staying with my in-laws, who have graciously allowed me to set up an office space in the spare bedroom. I’ve got a reclaimed desk, a little privacy, and a zafu for my morning sitting practice. Life is good.
Looking ahead at the ADAPT curriculum, we will continue studying micronutrients through week 10 and will have lessons on intermittent fasting in week 11. In the Art & Practice of Coaching track, we’ll continue our deep dive into motivational interviewing and will be introduced to the principles of positive psychology, as well as nonviolent communication.
My next ADAPT Journal post will be an August report. I’ll try to pick an interesting theme. In the meantime, look to my Way of Earth Blog for new material. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I see as the irresponsible promises of the mindfulness movement. I hope to clarify and organize my thoughts on that into a blog post.
If you are considering enrolling in the ADAPT course, I hope you are finding these posts useful. Your questions and/or comments are always welcome.