Student Life

Amphigory Number 1

I am restarting.

***

I have a deadline tomorrow. I also have a deadline next Tuesday. And the next Thursday. And I have at least three more essays waiting to be written.

I feel like I have no time to breathe.

And always, always at times like this I begin questioning the whole purpose of me putting myself in this position, when I could easily walk on a calmer path.  Why bother thinking and thinking and trying to find solutions to the neverending stream of problems in this world, when I could easily confine myself to thinking no further than my little life?

Why bother with preparing for a presentation, structuring and re-structuring my essays, reading articles over articles, squeezing whatever left of my brain juices when there is always a way out while making sure the children are all showered, clean, and fed? I could, at these moments, I told myself , settle with laughing with my children, truly enjoying them without suffering even the tiniest speck of worry, wait for my husband to come home and enjoy his company over a film or two?

After all, my doors to His Jannah are opened when I perfect the Prayers I offer, fast in Ramadhan, protect my chastity and faithfully obey my husband.

But then again, my other side of refuses to agree.

And that part keeps reminding me of a time – just a few months back – when I had nothing on my plate other than looking after my two kids and devoting myself to the family life. I remember feeling like I was losing my mind that I could not wait for September to come so I could begin again working on my degree. I could not imagine going through what I did during that period day by day, week by week, year by year and stay sane. I could not.

I resolve at that point that it is down to my nearly primal need  for movement. I need movements. Movement of some sorts. Perhaps of any sort in which I could see myself progressing. Achieving milestones that I set. Just something. Something of my own.

If my sanity of any importance at all to the family, I should keep doing this. I should not surrender to this temporary slump – this I need to be telling myself more often than I do now.

I do not know what exactly causes my restlessness when it comes to the idea of focusing solely on homemaking. Certainly not because I see it as a worthless or undervalued enterprise.

Possibly because it doesn’t satisfy me intellectually. At the end of the day, I always find myself exhausted of any physical energy, but upon lying down my brain can’t stop working and thinking – that’s when I knew that part of me has not been satisfied.

Maybe because it offers me less possibility of meeting new people – those who would inspire, those who would challenge me (not that my husband doesn’t) to move out of my comfort zone. Perhaps it is the thought that some parts of me will be left underutilised should I focus all my energy only for that trade. Maybe, just maybe.

I don’t know, really. I am yet to discover the root of my uneasiness, which appears whenever I toy with the idea of doing ‘nothing’ after completing my Master’s degree.

But I am certainly lucky that my husband needs no further convincing on this. Very, very lucky in fact. He has his own ideas on what a woman, or maybe, his woman should and should not be, and I am just happy that up to now our views are still parallel.

This is me, mentally vomiting. Till then.

 

 

 

 

Kembali di Meja Itu

Saya bercuti, dalam erti kata yang sebenar.

Saya diam-diam mengisytiharkan pada diri sendiri yang saya akan bercuti dari belajar dan mengulangkaji,juga terlepas 1-2 kelas sepanjang minggu ini (Pensyarah manakah yang begitu rajin mengadakan kelas ketika cuti pertengahan semester? ). Saya sungguh-sungguh bercuti, melayan anak-anak juga mengemas rumah ala spring-cleaning. Sempat juga bermusafir ke pantai timur untuk urusan keluarga; majlis pernikahan adik ipar di sana.

‘Percutian’ saya ini juga membenarkan sang suami lebih fokus untuk belajar. Hari peperiksaannya tinggal kurang dari separuh bulan dan saya betul-betul boleh merasai kekalutannya menghabiskan buku teks yang hampir dua inci tebalnya. Dalam perjalanan lima jam kami ke pantai timur pun sempat diusahakan supaya suami boleh mengulangkaji – bila anak-anak sudah tidur di belakang, suami hidupkan pilihan pemanduan ‘auto-cruise’ dan saya bacakan nota untuknya.

Tapi hari ini, hari terakhir cuti pertengahan semester ini,  saya kembali di meja belajar. Sesak di dada melihat senarai tugasan yang perlu dibereskan tidak akan hilang jika saya terus bertangguh. Dan momentum untuk kembali belajar perlu dibina sehari lebih awal sekurang-kurangnya.

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Sarapan? Sudah.

Kopi? Ada.

Internet? Sudah disambungkan.

 

Ayuh, kita mulakan kembali langkah dengan nama Allah!

 

 

5 Things I Learnt About Going to Grad School as a Mom

#thingsthathappenwhenmommystudies

#thingsthathappenwhenmommystudies

Someone fell asleep while waiting for mommy to be home

Someone fell asleep while waiting for mommy to be home

When we took this path, where one of us is working full time, and the other one stays at home with two little children under 3, while both are enrolled in some sorts of graduate programmes, we may have thought that we have it all figured out. After all, we have gone through one semester with both of us working full time and both were attending classes – and taking out one responsibility off the shoulder of one us, it could only get better…

…Or so I thought.

In reality, it is another round of juggling responsibilities and finding balance.

Now, two months into my second semester I have made some conclusions, and learnt some important points.

If you are a stay-at-home mom and a student, you may agree with some of my points here:

  1. Keep the priority right : I think this takes precedent over every rules I am listing here. It is fundamental to come back to this. Some of us take the road of grad school for as a license to advance in their careers. My purpose is different: I do this for the love of knowledge and the potential benefits it will give me to myself as an individual, my family, and hopefully the society. And right now, this agenda comes after (not directly after, though) spending time with the children – which is the major reason why I quit my job. This is a side thing I am doing – so if my husband just couldn’t get away from his office on time for me to go the my classes- which rarely happens – I won’t fuss over it. If the kids keeps tugging me begging for my attention, surely they will come first. I don’t mind this whole thing taking the backseat, really. Because Allah says  ‘Be Mindful of Allaah and Allaah will protect you’, and just by fulfilling my responsibility at home as required by Him, I know Allah will take care of my studies.
  2. Days are for the kids, and nights are for the books : Multi-tasking is not doing me any good. In fact, research shows that it doesn’t do any good to anyone. There is no benefit in me worrying about the books/journal articles/notes I am yet to cross out from my reading list during the day, when my children are crying for my attention. I push those worries aside and focus on them (or trying hard to do so) during the day. I have attempted going the other way, and it only made me more impatient and more frustrated when my reading is interrupted. I do make some exceptions with this though, especially when I have deadlines to meet where I’d resort to Nick Jr 😛
  3. Focus, focus and focus : I try to make my studying less of an interference to my family life, despite acknowledging its benefits. When I was single, and was an undergraduate efficiency may not be as crucial as it is now – after all I had only myself to take care of, and if I slack now, sooner or later I’d be the only paying the price of having to stay up late etc. Now that both of us are parents, and both need to allocate some quiet times studying, we take turns: when one is studying somewhere else, the other one will be with the children. And the time slots are not that long, more often limited to 1-2 hours. And in this one or two hours I am forced to make the best of it – because if I am not, someone else is also paying the price.
  4. Keep everything else simple : Being at home, moreover with two little children is consuming, and it doesn’t help that we have this constant ‘mommy war’ out there. It is imperative that I always review my KPI  whenever I see myself having the tendency to be overwhelmed by all the chores and things I thought I need to do. I am not here to become a domestic goddess or another Martha Stewart. I chose to be home so I could be with my children first and foremost, and that doesn’t entail slaving myself in the kitchen. I keep a generally less-than-strict cleanliness standard and try (very hard) to live with that (or maybe I should attempt to emulate the Japanese style ), and cook whenever I can whatever I could. What this constant reminding makes me is nothing more than a happy, content mother and wife, and one who has lots of extra energy for the late night revision.
  5. Family support is crucial : Other than my ever supportive husband, I have to give credits to my other family members who contribute to make this full-time-housewife-part-time-student venture a bearable one, if not joyful. My younger sister often lends her hands, so did our both sets of parents. My parents are planning to come over and help look after Isa and Khadijah during the January 2016 exam week, just the way my in-laws did last time. In all honesty, I think extended family support is crucial, whether you are a housewife, or in the same shoes as mine, or working full time. It is unfortunate that in this day and age child-raising involves only the parents of the nucleus family (which,  other than sparing no time off for the parents, also deprives the children from beneficial experiences) , and we are not living closely to our extended relatives.

When my mother insisted long before, that if we girls we to study or further study, it is better that we do it while we were single, I didn’t think much about it. Now I know that it is not to say that doing otherwise is making it totally impossible, but the changes you do impact more than just one soul; more than yours only. There are responsibilities you just can’t delegate (who else can breastfeed Khadijah, for instance), and there are just too much collateral damages should things go south.

But again, a lot of people have gone through this situation and aced it, so I say – bring it on!

I Am Back to School..and Loving it! (Part II)

 

school

I have printed out my husband’s class timetable and put it on the notice board, one that sits right before me now. He is sitting for two professional exams this quarter. His ICAEW classes will begin this weekend and run until early December. He still has more than half way to go, which, if everything goes as he plans, will take nearly two years to complete.

Meanwhile, the timetable for my Master’s programme – Development Studies – has also been released. Yes, after 8 months of being a full time stay-at-home mom, now I am back to being a student, the one hat I truly miss wearing for the past 8 months, to be honest.

My classes will begin two days after my husband’s until the end of December. My initial plan was to take two subjects this semester, then pick another two next semester hence completing all five required coursework modules.  After that I will undertake the research part of the course, which I hope to finish in two semesters. That will make it 5 semesters in total – a sensible ‘slow and steady’ approach given my situation I suppose.

I discussed with my husband about the courses offered this semester. He’s encouraging me to enroll in three modules instead of two. Now that’s really not in the plan and to a certain extent unexpected of him. I even doubt that I could do well (partly because I have long set my mind that I’m going to choose only two) – three modules, with all the assignments and lengthy reading lists may be a bit too challenging for me to ace.

My only concern when devising my initial plan of finishing my Master’s degree in 5 semesters was the logistics. I’d like to avoid having to leave my two children to babysitters for various reasons – financial (I am a self-supporting student) and my growing lack-of-trust for outsiders. going without a babysitter is actually a feasible option, given that my classes only begins at 6 PM, just after office hour ends. The idea was to pass the kids to my husband to look after – either by me dropping the kids at his office for him to drive home with them while I go straight to the university, or by him coming home earlier just for me to have enough time to drive to the university.

But as much as his job was a 9-5 one, it is far from what is happening in reality. And working in a corporate office – having been there and done that – I would not want to make it hard for him having to leave office early too often. Three days a week could be too much I think, and I don’t really mind my studying taking a backseat.

But then again, he insisted. I don’t know what’s behind it but hell yeah, bring it on I say! After all, I am always more efficient when I am busier.

Last semester I sat for Development Theory & Practice module, and this semester I am thinking of enrolling in the compulsory Research Philosophy & Methodology, Globalisation & Development, and the elective Policy Analysis & Programme Evaluation. There are a few books I have requested for my husband to buy (since he’s covering all my out-of-pocket study expenses these days :-D) and I plan to start reading before the classes start. My brain sure needs some warming-ups after such a long break.

All in all, it is going to be a hectic period of four months. My husband will be away for his full-day classes on weekends, and me three days a week for three hours each.

I think our family can handle that. I hope my children can handle that.

****

Last night, I sat in our study room reading a book when Isa came to me.

“Abang Long (how he calls himself) wants to sleep with mommy.”

I told him it’s alright to sleep on my bed. After all my husband is suffering from cold and sleeps in a separate room.  I told him I am studying, that I would go and sleep with him later. I told him I need to become clever (the rationale we always give to the question ‘Why mommy/ayah needs to study?’), and he seems to buy it.

At that moment, I could foresee how the many nights to come would be like. A small part of me feels guilty for depriving him of the intimate moments (bedtime is always so), but I know this phase our family is going through comes with a huge bonus.

Sure, our weekends may not be that social anymore. I am nearly immobile with two kids – one stuck to my chest and another hanging onto my legs, as I always put it. We may not have enough fund for vacations, nor do we have the time and energy to indulge in one. Failing our exams means more money to be spent and longer period of studying, which we could not afford.

But despite this immediate drawbacks, I could see some lights. Bright ones in fact.

With both parents studying – Isa is accustomed to see us reading intensively. Reading is something natural – in our house it requires no specific time or spot to do. Children as we all know, mimic what we parents do and I could not be happier than for Isa to witness us doing this in his early years.

By now, Isa is also used to the concept of studying and learning which is not limited to any specific age groups. Studying and learning should never stops, and schools are never for the schoolchildren only. We are walking the talk here, and though learning can be done on our own informally, I am glad that formal education both of us are getting now provide the opportunity for us to inculcate in our children the desire and the need to learn without a stop, God willing.

If anything, these two are good-enough reasons for me to forego all my worries about my can’t-dos. I have begun explaining to Isa how our weeks to come would look like. After eight months of being by my side 24/7, he might need to acclimatise to the changes to come.

And I definitely need to begin properly stocking up Khadijah’s milk!

May Allah ease.

 

Kemaskini Ringkas: Pengajian di UM Setelah Tiga Minggu

Minggu ini genap tiga minggu saya bergelar pelajar di UM. Juga bermakna sudah tiga kali saya menghadiri kuliah/seminar untuk subjek yang saya daftarkan. Mengenangkan diri yang mengandung, peperiksaan semester yang dijadualkan cuma sebulan sebelum EDD, suami yang sibuk dengan urusan kerja, saya tidak memilih banyak subjek. Cuma satu. – Teori dan Amalan Pembangunan. Perlahan pergerakan pengajian Sarjana saya, tetapi mudah-mudahan lebih berkualiti. Dan berkat tentunya.

Seminar saya dijadualkan setiap Isnin, dari pukul 6 petang hingga 9 malam. Waktu pejabat tamat hanya pada pukul 5.30 petang, jadi memang terkocoh-kocoh juga saya memandu ke UM. Mujurlah UM bukan tempat asing: sekitar tahun 2009-2010 saya kerap juga mengunjungi UM – menziarahi adik lelaki saya yang menjalani pengajiannya di Ambang Asuhan Jepun, juga menghadiri kuliah mingguan di Akademi Pengajian Islam. Saya menggunakan pintu masuk Damansara, dan dari Jalan Raja Laut melalui Bukit Tunku langsung ke Jalan Duta dan Jalan Semantan kebiasaannya mengambil masa kurang setengah jam. Cuma trafik di dalam UM yang melambatkan. Biasanya sampai tepat-tepat pukul 6 petang.

Lelah, tetapi terasa kebahagiaannya.

Sungguh.

Bukan sengaja mahu meromantikkan hal ini, tetapi saat saya berpagi-pagi untuk mengulangkaji nota kuliah, atau tidur lewat untuk tujuan yang sama, terasa sungguh berbeza perasaannya berbanding ketika terpaksa melakukan hal yang sama demi membereskan kerja-kerja pejabat. Betullah, jika ada rasa cinta semuanya jadi mudah.

Moga-moga Allah terus-menerus mengurniakan kebahagiaan itu – dan juga kefahaman ilmu. Amin.

I am Back to School and Loving it!

I have just attended my first class as a Master student last evening.

 

Yes, you heard it right – I am back to being a student, a part time one at that. This time around I am no longer an engineering student (already have an MEng), but a Faculty of Economics & Administration student!

 

To be honest, it feels totally different this time around. The fact that I have the freedom to carefully choose the course I am to undertake means a lot. Mind you, I practically did not have that when I did my first degree. I was in a secondary school where everyone was expected to either become an engineer or a doctor, and winning a scholarship for engineering studies (which of course, meant a lot back then, opening up the opportunity to be overseas-educated) means that the only choice I have to make was which discipline of engineering I was to take up. And you have probably read it before – those choices made when I barely had enough information on what they entailed left me suffering throughout my four years – after a year I found out that engineering was not for me but changing my course being a sponsored student would be too much hassle that I just dragged my feet to school for the rest of my degree programme.

 

Well, I did enjoy my fourth year better though, studying sustainability – if that is of any consolation.

 

I choose to do a Master in Development Studies (and if you have no idea what that is, feel free to click this link). The easiest way to explain why I choose it is, well, it is an in depth study, though not directly related, of what I have been exposed to in my daily job as a sustainability practitioner.

 

But the truth is I am just curious. Plain curious. I am taking up a course (paying for it myself, for the time being too) just because I need the knowledge. I need to know. The atmosphere is different and the drive is different, hence. I can feel the eagerness in me which I hope I can sustain throughout the programme with God’s grace.

 

And that eagerness affected me well. even after 3.5 hours of class last evening (it was supposedly only 3 hours, from 6pm-9pm but the lecturer accidentally extended it) and after rushing from work, I was not sleepy or tired when I reached home. It’s truly the adrenaline. I could not remember if I had ever been that elated after attending any of my undergraduate lectures, or any business classes I had to attend while working.

 

For the fact that I am in this to learn (and to hopefully use whatever I know later to contribute to the society), I am taking it slow. No rush. I will still have to graduate in 8 semesters max., I don’t need this piece of certificate to move forward in my career, get a promotion, or things like that. And being  pregnant and still working full time (along  with a busy husband), I have only registered for one subject, and I intend to savour it – as what my husband wants me too.

 

My lecturer has given us the reading list , now it’s time to gear up,  set a schedule, start reading, and of course, thinking.

 

O Allah, please make this easy for me.

 

p.s. Back to school with a husband is an excellent experience – my husband has been a real sweetheart about this whole thing: from challenging me to think, reminding me to go and study when Isa falls asleep, showing his interests to whatever I am mumbling about… which makes me wonder if I’d be a better student if we met and got married during my undergraduate years 😛

The day I dragged my two   bodyguards to the library :D

The day I dragged my two bodyguards to the library 😀

Authority

Image

I realised that I sometimes have a huge tendency to follow authority.Obediently. I mean, so bad that to a point that I rarely ask questions, assume that there can be no exception made to the rules (that lead me to not even ask), and to follow directions that eventually have negative impacts on me.

I wonder where does that come from.

My parents always tell me that I am always a stubborn girl, but I mellowed down, to the point that they tend to tease me that I have lost my fang, once I got into my secondary school, which was a boarding school. 

I am pretty sure there were a lot of things during that (crucial) five years time that shaped me in this aspect. I have no time to dig about that yet, but wow. If this hypothesis is true, it should not come out as a surprise why I am yet to visit my Alma Mater after nearly 12 years leaving it.

Or why I have never missed any moments during those years.