I’ve only done my basic degree when I was 28, and I was on a sponsorship. 10 years later, I joined a university to do my masters degree in ESL. The 10 years lapse being my indecisiveness on whether to continue to serve a bond or quit the education system altogether.
I was fairly disillusioned with the administrative level of my institution; though I can’t really blame an institution just because of some little Napoleons, I’m disheartened enough to quit for a greener path.
As if God hears my prayer, on my most difficult morning one day, after a very tensed ‘discussion’, a letter arrived my institution via fax. I’ve finally gotten my transfer back to my own hometown after 11 times of unceasing application within 5 years. In just one year after I was stationed in my new workplace, I’ve gotten two offers; one, an appointment to the District Office as the Specialist Coach for Secondary School English, and another, a full-pay study leave to do my masters degree.
I’ve decided to hand in my study leave application after the much positive working environment and the encouraging words from my colleagues and superior. It feels almost like the dead ashes are reignited.
When I did my basic degree at the age of 28, I was among the youngest out of all the in service teachers who joined the package. 10 years fly passed and I am now the more ‘senior ones’ in the programme. I can’t put the reading materials too near my eyes; I take more time to do my photographic memory trick. The worse, I’m about 20kgs heavier than before and I walk so much slower nowadays.
It was my first day at the university, a complete new campus to me as I did my basic degree with another local university. The first day was mainly about general intro and briefing. I find myself hard to remain focus on the speakers. 30 minutes into the speech, I find myself drifting away. To keep myself focus, I have to take extra effort like trying to jot down notes, trying to engage myself with the speakers, trying hard to stay awake! The alarm just goes off in my mind that how am I going to sit through 3 hours of lectures after this.
My masters degree is a mix-mode programme; 17 credit hours of coursework and 40 credit hours of dissertation. The duration is 4 semesters (2 years). I have planned to squeeze 4 papers (14 credit hours) into the first semester, then conduct and write my dissertation from the 2nd semester onwards. I’ll take the last 3 credit hours of elective any semester when the elective I like comes about.
Nonetheless, I can only take 10 credit hours (3 papers) in the first semester as the core programme that I wanted to do clashes with the 2 core courses that are compulsory for my study. The lecturer that greeted us at the faculty briefing disapproved my plan/schedule. Her reasons (and her colleagues wise) being:
1. The faculty suggested two papers a semester;
2. I have to attend classes and get to know my supervisor(s);
3. I have to complete the courses so that I have some content to research on;
4. I might not have a clear idea on what I want to research on;
5. I should not try to kill myself;
Even after she knows that I’m an experienced teacher, and now a subject coach, and that I’ve defended my proposal in order to win the scholarship, she still disapproves. I totally remember the preparatory briefing we received two weeks ago by our sponsors, so I ‘agree’ to her suggestions.
One thing I’m very sure of is this, I’m on a full time study leave. I have nothing on my mind but to complete my study within the given time frame. My friends all tease me saying that I’m using the taxpayers’ money and they all contributed to my study; I totally agree. And that is also the reason why despite whatever that I may encounter, I have to brave it through and make sure I deliver. I need to have a clear plan and focus on my vision. I cannot afford to lose sight of what is expected of me.
Just like what I’ve scribbled on the paper during our sharing session in the preparatory briefing, I shall complete my masters degree in two years with distinction if not a conferment. This, is a promise to myself and to my sponsors.