Friday, May 14, 2010

On Going Back to School

While it’s only been two years since I graduated from college, I feel as though I have been out of school forever. I am so far removed from the tasks of studying and taking finals that I can barely summon sufficient empathy for my friends who tell me, “I can’t talk [to you on the phone] this week; I’m studying for exams.” Studying? Rather than talk to witty, entertaining me? Who does that?

When my day is over, it’s over. I walk out of the office at 4:30 p.m. and have the rest of my day to fill as I please. I can read a book. I can go for a swim. I can go grocery shopping. I can go to sleep.

This freedom has made me very possessive of my time. It’s a struggle for me to commit to mid-week events now, because what if, on that day, I don’t feel like doing that activity anymore? If I agree to go to a museum with a friend, and then suddenly have an urge to swim, I am stuck! Moreover, if I cannot even commit to single-day events, forget committing to something that requires my attendance every week, never mind multiple times a week. Like, say, a class.

However, I did recently attend an in-house workshop (run by my company), and the experience reignited my desire to be back in school. “Joy of learning” makes me sound like a grade school class suck-up, but that is really what I felt as I sat in the HTML II workshop yesterday. Trying to wrap my mind around new concepts, such as style sheet “grammar” and how to “tell” a form where to send its information, made my brain feel like it was wakening up and trying to stretch—that mixture of simultaneous pain and relief. The experience was also a harsh reminder that I haven’t taxed myself mentally in a long, long time, and that I am out of practice for this sort of concentrated learning.

The course lasted from 9a.m.-4:30p.m., and by 2:30, in spite of the hour lunch break, my mind was saturated. All I wanted to do was practice what I had learned and not listen to one more word that the teacher was saying. Which makes me wonder: how in the world did we sit through classes all day long for 12 years of our lives?! Have I grown antsier in my old age? Less patient, and less willing to sit still and listen for hours on end? Or have I somehow become less capable? For instance, I never fell asleep in school until I got to college. And the fact that I was falling asleep in college lectures makes no sense, because I liked what I was learning in college better!

Either way, the sensation of learning was really exciting and made me again vaguely consider whether I could go back to school. Perhaps I could earn some sort of degree slowly, one course at a time. Surely I could handle one course in addition to my job, couldn’t I? Plus, that would prove I am not entirely jealous of my own time, that I can commit to something that imposes on my schedule long-term. But then that, of course, begs the question: what do I study? Whatever I want? Something practical? My “plans for the future” are not at all practical, seeing as I am considering frolicking off to China to teach English or else trying out vegetable farming in some middle-of-nowhere place. Perhaps, then, I should wait until I have a clearer plan and purpose in mind?

In the meantime, I will have to live vicariously through my boyfriend, who is about to start teaching and going to school. Maybe he’ll let me help him study and figure out lesson plans. Then I'll get a preview of my China plan for a fraction of the work and none of the pressure!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should consider studying Chinese??? Even if you don't go to China, you would be able to use it in your metropolitan surroundings.