Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mama's first day of school

I had Miriam take this picture of me today, on my first day of school. I am now officially pursuing a master's degree in TESOL.

I have wanted to go to graduate school almost ever since I finished up my bachelor's degree in December 2001. The closest I came was in 2005 when I was admitted and given a three-year full scholarship to law school at the University of Arizona. I deferred for a year when Miriam was born but ultimately declined my spot because I am not one of those superwomen who can juggle multiple tiny children and full-time school, at least not with a husband who was pursuing his PhD at the same time. I felt confident in my decision to not go to law school but I always, always felt a lingering sadness about it.



That's partly why I've not mentioned anything about getting a master's degree until now, when I have actually bought a book and been to a class and have incontrovertible evidence of this being a reality. Almost as soon as we arrived in Sharjah in September, I started jumping through the many, many hoops to apply, get accepted, and then actually be enrolled and I am still fairly incredulous that it's all worked out.

I should have known it would be a difficult process to get the technicalities straightened out. A few months ago, I was talking casually with another faculty spouse here and she mentioned that instead of jumping through said hoops to transfer over credits from her unfinished bachelor's degree, she just started from scratch. I thought that was a rather wussy course of action until I had to go through it myself - proving to the UAE that I had a bachelor's degree (and high school diploma!) from a real, live educational institution in the USA. Now I totally see why she did that. It's as if God (and AUS) were constantly asking, "Bridget, how badly do you want this master's degree, hmmm?" Turns out I wanted it pretty badly.

There were the difficult hoops to jump through, like the paperwork and application essays. Then there were the easy ones that could still potentially trip me up, like when I had to take a modified version of the TOEFL written exam (a requirement for anyone in my program). I freely admit to being relieved when I found out I got a perfect score on it.

Today, sitting in class, it felt so good to be discussing something I love (my first class is Linguistics for EFL Teachers), with other enthusiastic people. For a few hours a week, I get to be taken seriously on my own terms. Not eclipsed by my children. Not introduced as a faculty spouse. Not dismissed as someone who "doesn't work outside the home" (don't get me started on that). I'm not saying there's anything wrong with any of those identities, at least not in moderation. But it's been so long since I've been able to do something just for myself that I find myself battling the "am I worth it?" dilemma all over again.

Now, the real question is, as a youngish female student at a university am I required to wear skinny jeans and flats/extreme high heels? That's all the kids wear around here these days (even under their abayas) and I want to make sure I do this the right way. It's been nine years since I've been a student and things have changed since then, you know. So I'd appreciate any tips.

PS - As much as I'd like to make this look like I'm doing it all by myself, the truth is it wouldn't be possible without Jeremy. He's the one who brought us to a university with a master's program in my field, and got us faculty housing on campus so that I can walk to class in eight minutes - and drop the kids off at his office on the way - and get a screaming deal on tuition. Thanks, love.

35 comments:

Sarah Familia said...

Good for you, Bridget. I have struggled with a lot of the same issues and feelings that you talk about in this post and the ones you linked to.

You are SO worth it. And the picture looks great, no skinny jeans required (of course, I just can't wait for skinny jeans to go out).

And I love that you created a whole new label just for this post.

Becky said...

You go girl! You are in inspiration to all of us who have asked the same questions about ourselves. I hope to follow in your footsteps in a few years (after baby #3 of course!). I left a masters program to be a mom and support a husband in med school so it's great to see you going back. And I too think you look great!! Maybe trying to fit in by wearing what everyone else wears is not necessary . . .

Jessie said...

That's so exciting!! Good luck! I agree that you look great in that picture, but I'm a huge fan of skinnies so I vote YES. Buy a pair. They might change your life.

Nancy said...

I'm so excited for you! You'll do great, of course.

Liz Johnson said...

I am jealous beyond words and SO excited for you!!! You will rock this program. How long is it??

Amber said...

Congratulations, Bridget, that is awesome! Out of curiosity, are you still doing your work from home job, the one you got while living in Ithaca?

Kathy Haynie said...

Bridget, I didn't earn my bachelor's degree until I was 40 (with 5 kids at home), and I'm currently working on a 2nd master's degree (empty nest this time - hooray!). I hope you can feel the "atta girl" emanating from Oregon City. :)

When I first started at the local community college (age 35), I was so unsure of myself. I was an assistant scoutmaster in the 11-year-old program at the time, and I used to walk across campus saying to myself, "A scout is friendly, a scout is friendly..." making myself smile at the other (much younger) students.

I got the hang of it before long, and I am SURE that you will, too. Yes, it is so exciting to be just yourself, and not always "wife" or "mama."

Keep us posted! I am excited for you!

Jill said...

Congrats! I have been thinking about doing TESOL too

Susanne said...

How wonderful! I'm sure you will be the star student!

Crys said...

Hello AWESOME!!!! This by the way was one of my favorite post...I think because it just hits the topic so perfectly! I'm so excited to read about these new adventures at school! Personally I say go for the flats because they are comfy. As for the skinny jeans, why not try a pair. You could pull it off :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I'm excited for you.

Hannah

Katie said...

Wow! Congratulations Bridget! I am truly impressed and inspired by you.

And, by the way, your whole discussion of "Am I worth it?" has totally been in the back of my mind this past week as I (finally) got around to starting my Etsy shop. Which seems super little in comparison to you getting a Masters degree, but, you know, same train of thought.

Anyway, moral of the story is, GOOD FOR YOU! Yay! :)

Katie said...

Oh, and P.S. about the skinny jeans. I used to scoff at them. Look down on those who wore them. Make snide remarks. Then I came across a (free) pair when scouring the left overs at Helaman Halls last year.

Umm... they are a little bit magical. This I cannot deny.

Merkley Jiating said...

You are amazing. I am so glad your situation has worked for you to be able to go back. And of course you got a perfect score on that test. You are brilliant.

Cait said...

YES. I remember when you told me about law school when we were in Egypt and I was sad for you but also totally understood. I'm glad you made the leap.

And thank you Jeremy!!

PS - I got my first pair of skinny jeans over Christmas break and I. LOVE. THEM. If you get a pair, please don't wear them with heels.

Jennifer said...

That is awesome! Congratulations. I'm not at all surprised you had the determination to hoop jump and get started. I can't wait to hear more about it.

Amanda said...

Good for you! School with kids is hard, but doable (she said right after she finished having her latest panic attack because she wasn't sure how she was going to get it all done). It's good to know that I have Tyler to blame for having to pay a million dollars in tuition. He was looking at our finances (something he rarely does) and looked at me with a puzzled look on his face and said, "where the heck did all our savings go?"

You could probably pull of skinny jeans, but they seem so uncomfortable, I would just stick with what you've got.

Jeremy Palmer said...

Has anyone seen Bridget? I checked the kitchen but couldn't find her....


:)

I'm sure Bridget will rock the program.

Bridget said...

Liz, it's a two-year program if you go full-time. It will probably take me longer than that (but hopefully not too much longer).

Amber, yes, I still have that job, and it is still awesome. I don't have a required number of hours so I can slack on it when I need to and pitch in more when I have the time.

Thank you so much for these kind comments, everyone (except Jeremy, hahahaha). It gives me courage. Whether it will be enough courage to go try on skinny jeans, I'm not sure...

Brittany Cornett said...

yea Bridget I always like to hear when Mothers that still have dreams and work really hard to acheive one. Good Luck!

Eevi said...

So exciting! I hope you will love it. I think it's important to have something that you can call "your own" even when you are a mom and wife and most of your life is consumed by everyone else's needs and wants. I like skinny jeans with flats:) Cant wait to hear how you enjoy school again.

Sherwood family said...

NO NO NO to skinny jeans. You're a mother of two children - you get a pass on the jeans. The flats, however, I endorse. They're much more comfortable than high heels.

Congrats on going back to school!

Lindsay said...

Awesome - good luck. You are like superwoman, so I'm sure you will do fantastic! :) I love the "my first day of school" photo. :)

Lark said...

Congrats! So happy that you are able to do something for yourself.
Good luck!

sarah said...

Congratulations! That's awesome you had that opportunity. So did your credits transfer after all the paperwork? How many hours/days do you attend? Good luck! and I'm sure you will do quite well!

Heehee! You would look super cute in skinny jeans and flats!! Flats are comfortable too. I was forced by my sister in law to buy a pair of skinny jeans before xmas. They look really cute in boots, but since you probably won't be needing boots in that weather, I'd suggest the flats.

Kelli said...

go Bridget! Wonderful news! I would love to go back to school someday too. I'm hoping I get a break on tuition as well with Josh being a professor! It's great that Jeremy is so supportive and will watch the girls while you go to class! :)

Kelli said...

oh! I almost forgot. YES to the skinny jeans, but not to fit in. Because you are so little and skinny and cute (so they will look awesome on you) and they are surprisingly comfortable. I just bought my 1st pair a few months ago and have been rocking them ever since. DO IT!

robin said...

that's awesome! congratulations.

and yes to the skinny jeans. you would rock them...

Heather said...

Congratulations Bridget! This is exciting news! You will love being in school again, I know it! You will rock the house!

Jen said...

I'm sorry I'm late to this party! CONGRATULATIONS! And I echo the sentiment that if ANYONE could do this hoop-jumping, YOU could.

I'm not only thrilled for you, but I'm thrilled for your GIRLS. I think it's so important for children (especially little girl children) to see their mother's commitment to education IN ACTION. Not only are you doing an amazing thing for yourself and your family as a whole, but you're all but assuring that your girls will get educations of their own (statistically-speaking).

P.S. If anyone can rock the skinny jean, it's you. Me? Not so much.

Bridget said...

Jen, the funny thing is that when I told Miriam I was going to be a student again, she said, "because maybe you don't know enough, so you need to go to school to learn the letters and words better." I guess so...

Sarah, I didn't have to transfer credits. I just had to prove that I already had a high school diploma and an undergrad degree so that I could move on to a grad program. It was so much harder than it sounds.

Not that anyone is reading through all these comments, but my main insecurity about skinny jeans is kind of what Ashley (Sherwood family) alluded to: I've, uh, had some kids in my lifetime and I am afraid skinny jeans will accentuate the parts of my body that were, well, accentuated by having kids. Maybe I should just go try some on and see how they look.

Why no skinny jeans with high heels? Seriously, that's how they do it here. Platform sandals, usually.

Susanne said...

If you want to accentuate those parts the kids accentuated, go for the skinny jeans. If you don't, stick to your classic style. Do you want to fit in with the Sharjah crowd or be yourself? The same with flats or heels. I'd go with what you feel most comfortable with.

And I love what Miriam said in response to your telling her you were going back to school! :)

Julie said...

Congratulations! That's on my list of things I want to do someday (minus the wearing skinny jeans part). Good luck and have fun!

Nemesis said...

Go you, what a rock-star example to set for your girls (and, indeed, anyone).

Julee said...

I am not surprised by the perfect score. Good job. I don't think it was ever a question of if you would ever further your formal education just a matter of when.

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