The wise Lao Tzu said that “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” That step for me was to decide three years ago that I wanted to go back to school. Why? I asked myself one evening as I sat in a hotel room in Guinea capital city of Conakry, in the middle of the worst Ebola Virus Disease. Unlike many, my desire to go back to school was not motivated by the need to boost my career or to earn another degree. I have a good job and Master Degrees from two world-renowned institutions of higher learning. Why did I decide on that full moon night in December 2014 to return to study after a long time off?
In my last blog post we talked about “Big picture” planning so, to complement it, I thought you may like to read about how I organize myself on a daily basis during weekdays. Perhaps you can get refreshing ideas!
This schedule relies heavily on my own preferences, habits and circumstances as a student. For example, I prefer working in the mornings because I know it is easier for me to focus then. Remember how important it is to know yourself in order to devise a suitable schedule for you.
Have you ever thought about age becoming an obstacle for us to study at the university again? I was concerned whether I’ve left it too long to study for a bachelor’s degree as I am 21, which is an age most students obtain the degree. I am sure that many of you have heard this worry before, but I believe now that it’s never too late to start again. Here’s my brief story before I enrolled at the University of London.
Well, there is less than a month to our exams. I just received my admission notice recently. I am sure everyone is filled with jitters. Personally, I am filled with jitters. Especially so when I realise that with each passing day, my exams are one day closer. It’s quite scary to know that your exams are so close and you still feel rather unprepared.
It’s that time of the year again. It’s the Chinese New Year. I know not everyone celebrates this but to everyone who does, Happy Chinese New Year!
I found this year to be rather festive. My classmates are getting haircuts and buying new clothes. Even I got some new clothes. Hence, I am feeling rather festive.
I am (I hope!) in the final three months of my final (third) year of the MSc in Epidemiology (distance learning). This year I took my last elective, Epidemiology of Communicable Diseases (EPM301), and also signed up for the comprehensive exam (EPM400, the “compulsory additional paper”) and the MSc project (EPM500).
It has been eight months since my last post, which I wrote when I was about to dive into the intense exam prep period of my second year in the MSc epidemiology distance learning program. Exams for my three classes (EPM303, epidemiology of non-communicable diseases, EPM202, Statistical Methods in Epidemiology, and EPM304, Advanced Statistical Methods in Epidemiology) went well, helped by the fact that I’d gone through LSHTM exams once already and knew what to expect. The basics—create a realistic exam prep schedule and stick to it, do a dry run to the exam center so you know where it is and how long it takes to get there, and sleep well the night before—were no different. The only thing that had changed was that I parenthetically turned 50 the day before the first exam.
The University of London International Programmes has done great justice to those who want to comfortably stay in their homeland and study. It has given us a great opportunity to be around people we love and get encouraged to handle the pressure with patience. As a UoL student of LLB (Hons.) final year in Bangladesh, I personally am thankful to the one who came up with the idea of making it global. Out of the many pros and cons of the system, here is a list of some which Bangladeshi students of the UoL can relate to:
Despite the somewhat romantic notion I had about enjoying a leisurely time after finishing my degree, it has worked out to be a bit different. This summer I have had very little break time between interviewing for new opportunities, IT repairs, a 180-degree shift in a work project, finishing my home redecorating project, and preparing to enter a new academic program. You would think I could see all of that coming, but, unfortunately, no. What managing it all helped me realize is that reading and studying has been a kind of stress management tool for me, in addition to being something I really, really enjoy. Studying as a form of stress management might sound unusual to you. It certainly sounds unusual to me, but while managing all the rough and tumble of professional life this week, I realized that having my reading and intense engagement with English studies is an excellent stress management tool and helps me maintain a helpful perspective on other projects.
What a week we have had here in Pittsburgh! Jelly Bean, my collie dog, and I have accomplished a lot. We spent some time digging over and planting three new flowerbeds, began a creative project, and finished our ‘spring’ cleaning that got sadly, sadly behind when concentrating on exams and some professional projects. This week we also finally finished two big, lingering work projects. (Yes, we – she is a very good co-pilot for long stretches at my desk.) Having professional and personal projects like this is a great thing right now. While it is sinking, albeit slowly, into my brain that I actually completed the degree, I have not quite figured out what to do with the time devoted to study. There was a celebration and a few tears of relief and joy when grades were released but nothing like the sense of satisfaction that came with the invitation to our graduation ceremony in the spring.
It feels like transition time, and perfectly timed too with the lovely feeling of spring ripening into summer, not that it is always a process without drama. This week we had an incredible summer storm. In just a few hours, we had three inches of rain. A building on our street was struck by lightning, streets were closed from flash flooding, people were rescued from floating vehicles, and our garden room flooded impressively. Although Jelly Bean is normally quite brave during thunder and lightning storms, she felt better sitting in my lap as we watched this one from her favorite window seat. In an almost Shakespearean way, like our own personal ‘Tempest’, the storm arrived along with my decision to pursue new professional opportunities and set new academic goals.