Online connections

WWU student, Sienna Hubin, completes ACA year at Sagunto online amid COVID-19 pandemic

Due to COVID-19, many Walla Walla University students who were studying abroad this year have returned to their homes in the United States. Sienna Hubin, a communications major, has been studying at Sagunto College in Sagunto, Spain, with the Adventist Colleges Abroad (ACA) program.  

Where are you studying from now?
I am studying from home in Western Washington, completing online the last quarter of classes from Sagunto, since I flew home at the end of March when we learned about COVID-19.

What is something you appreciate about online school?
When my friends, classmates, and I were told we had to leave school and return home, we didn’t know online school was a possibility for us. Everything became so chaotic with buying flights home, packing up, and having to leave before we got stuck in Spain that some of us didn’t even get to say goodbye to each other. We didn’t know if we needed to re-enroll in our universities or find jobs. Everything seemed very uncertain. After being home for a week, our teachers at Sagunto announced that we were going to do this quarter online, and we were all super excited. I appreciate that online school has kept the majority of us unified and that it has become a constant in the storm of craziness. It has been a way to stay in contact with everyone and it has made coming home just a little easier. 

What challenges have you experienced studying remotely?
It’s been difficult to continue learning a language at the same pace when I went from constantly hearing it everywhere to only hearing it in classes. It is also hard to have classes where you need to speak a lot over video chat.

How are you dealing with social distancing?
I am staying at home and so far it hasn’t been too bad, but I do miss being able to go places and be around people. I’ve found that video chatting with friends helps.

How will it work for you to finish the year from home?
We are taking all of our needed classes online, so I should be able to still complete the credits I need!

How does the time difference affect your interaction with classes and friends?
I have classes from 8 a.m. until around 11:30 a.m. (which is 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Spain). Our classes each day are shorter than usual so that we can get through them all, but that means we have more homework to make up our credit hours. The teachers have been really good at answering texts and emails quickly, but they’re asleep during our afternoons and we’re asleep during their mornings so sometimes it’s a little difficult to connect. 

If you had to describe your experiences with COVID-19 in five words, what would they be?
It has brought unexpected endings. 

What’s been the best part of this for you so far?
I’ve enjoyed having more free time.

If you could go back six weeks and live one thing over again exactly the way it happened, what would it be?
My birthday was two days before everything became chaotic. In a way, it was the last day that everything was normal. I spent all evening with my friends laughing and eating, not knowing it would be the last time we would all be together like that. I’m so thankful I had that last celebration with them before we all had to go our separate ways. 

Where are you finding encouragement or inspiration?
My teachers have been super encouraging during all of this. 

What has been your favorite aspect of online school so far?
I’m just thankful that it’s there and that it keeps us connected.

Posted April 17, 2020

girl sitting on low rock railing with buildings in the background.
Sienna at the castle in Sagunto with view of Sagunto in the background.
large group of students on a city street gathered in front of building.
Group picture in Pamplona, Spain, during the students' winter trip.
Large sign post with various signs pointing in different directions.
Signs of Adventist colleges and distances from each campus to the campus at Sagunto.