Diplowife goes back to school

I received a notification that the blog has had a spike in traffic the last couple of days, which really makes me happy but to be honest confuses me as well. It makes me happy of course knowing that even though I don’t regularly put up posts, some people still find the time to read the blog. But sometimes I think maybe this something WordPress does to keep its bloggers inline, or in this case … online…. Get it? See what I did there with the pun? (You have my permission to roll your eyes).

But even though I am left baffled, whatever the case I am thankful that they haven’t taken down my blog, despite my lazy performance and inability to follow through. And I am most thankful for those who continue to follow my ramblings, wherever you are in the world.

I really hate having have to make excuses for my long absence, but this time the reason I haven’t had the time to post entries is really a legit excuse, so legit it warrants an entire article. That is how much I want to talk about it.

Remember a few years back I mentioned finishing my Masters degree? Well I had so much fun doing that, I went ahead with my plans of pursuing a Doctorate degree. Yes, for the past four months I have been busy as a PhD student.

I don’t know if I have explained this or if it’s the same with other trailing spouses in other countries, but when you are in between posts and is stationed in the home office, being Diplowife kind of takes a back seat. I dare say that when the Diplomat is stationed in the head office, technically he is not a Diplomat but just another civil employee who happens to work in the Foreign Service Department. JG doesn’t even do much foreign policy stuff these days as he is assigned to a very “corporate-oriented” part of the department. In effect, I too have become just another dedicated home-maker to my hardworking public servant of a husband. Did mention he has gone back to grad school too?

And since there are no Diplowife duties to attend to while we’re here in Manila, I took the opportunity to find something to get myself busy with. I thought about working, and making some money of my own, but I feel bad that should I get hired I would probably have to resign in a year or less, when JG gets another assignment order elsewhere. And applying for a job when you don’t plan on sticking around for a long time, is something for me as unprofessional, and you haven’t even started yet.

With having the career option out the window, the next on the do list is the baby making part. To this I would simply say is something really out of our hands, let’s just say that JG and I are doing what we can about it. (wink wink). Besides, my husband, despite his occasional claims of having majestic charms is not the Prince of Wales, and we have no obligation to produce an heir to keep the lineage going.

We have yet to give up on the having-kids-agenda, but while we are waiting, I thought it best to just go for it – the PhD I mean. And if I must say, that although I might have bitten off something more than I can chew, I am in a sort of crazy way enjoying myself?

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It is a lot different from what I did with the Masters’ degree, I did that through an online/distance learning program of the same university when I was in Muscat, which meant that I have a very flexible schedule and has more than enough time to do the work, considering I don’t have to attend class, and can just study at my own pace.

What made me pursue going back to school was because I really did get a kick at doing the final research paper, but with it realized that I would like to learn more about doing actual research. Plus while I made a lot of new friends with the Online program, there was a feeling of wanting in the recitation part of it all. Because the program was based in the internet, class discussions are held like virtual forums, in a chat form that eventually became a thread of answers and interactive exchange of ideas on a problem the professor in charge would posts up online.

So even though doing the traditional classroom setting meant a lot of time dedication, I was looking forward to the real-life spontaneous classroom discussion.

And so far it has been quite an experience. I can’t really say I am having the time of my life, or boast about feeling so alive again after a long time of staying at home and doing wifely duties… It is A LOT of work, and contrary to what I initially thought that it would only occupy a few hours of my time, like twice a week, it eats A LOT of my time. With the readings, and the papers to write, and the readings, and the actual classes, the group projects, the library visits, more readings, preparing for reports, writing Review of Literature, etc. it doesn’t take up just a lot of your time, but most of your present existence.

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But for two hours or so, three times a week, I get to forget about cleaning the house, all the adult things adult needs to do and make decisions about, and just talk about interestingly academic topics with other people who also find these things interesting.

Despite how demanding and time consuming it is, studying in the graduate level is quite different when you were studying for your undergraduate degree. This is time you came in your own choice/volition, all the chip of the shoulder and teenage angst have long been resolved, and you understand that should you fail or do badly, no one else is to blame, but yourself. In other words the maturity level is really up there and the risks involved, and whatever is at stake, or is at the end of the road is clear in our minds.

Which is why I found that it was common, and perhaps logically expected, that at some point in the middle of all the readings, papers, classes, you question whatever insane judgment or mental condition you were at the time you decided you wanted to do this. And try and remember whatever reason it was you told yourself for getting yourself (who was once happily relaxed and carefree) into this constantly stressful situation.

And then you remember… for many of my classmates, it’s about getting the extra credits for a promotion, for some who are professional members of the academe it is an inevitable direction in their career, and then there are the few of us who don’t exactly know what we need the added degree for but surely want to simply learn more.

Other interesting aspects of the whole going back to school project, is seeing the dynamics of youth today, the Millennials, as we call them. I am technically a millennial as well, but is more inclined to the Y generation (or whatever generation came before them). Whenever I see them at the university I go to, and observe them, I often get this feeling, perhaps the same as what Drew Barrymore’s character in the movie Never Been Kissed felt like when she went back to high school as an undercover reporter.

Most of the time I find them annoying and a bit clueless with their hipster wear and constant need to document their activities and selfies online. Nevertheless I am fascinated at how they are so driven and confident, but at the same time so terrified at how fragile they all seem to be. I have to remember that these are kids who grew up knowing that corporal punishment is bad and was raised in positive reinforcement and encouragement from their very supportive parents, graduates of kindergarten programs wherein multiple intelligence is championed and participation alone is enough to warrant an award.

I guess this is what it feels like to get older, as I am now beginning to understand why our parents are the way they were with our music and our clothes, our dance moves. I find myself at a disconnect with these Millennials and the way they think. One time I was in a line, and was staring at the bare back of this 16 year old girl (I know as she was holding a form that had her birthday on it) who had this cryptic Roman Numeral tattoo on her back. Anyway as I looked at her “tats”, I wondered how long ago she had it done, think about it, if she said she has had it for two years that means she had hers drawn at FOURTEEN!  Most importantly did she consider the fact that she had another 25 years or so of adulthood to go through, one that will no doubt change her in some way or form, at which point will she regret getting something so permanent?

But I digress, I wish them all well, and truly hope that they all grow up to be great adults, to be honest I am not sure how, but if they do then I’d be first to say I was worried over nothing.

And lastly, I often ask myself what I would say if someone asked me if I would recommend others do what I do and keep going back to school? And I haven’t really decided on a definite answer yet. Sometimes I say no, and it’s true it’s not for everybody. One guy I know said that he did not expect it to be so theoretical, that he wanted to learn something, a skill, or a technique he can actually use for his work, or perhaps it depends on the program you go to, or the University, I’m not sure.

Sometimes I say yes, because not only does it help you get a better sense of how dedicated and responsible you can be even when you really don’t need to or when the gratification seems not worthy of the effort. But also because the effort itself is the gratification; that you will find yourself truly capable of handling more than what is expected or required of you, so you strive and keep going… the skill, the technique, the title you get to add on your name, is just the bonus.

 

 

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