Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Some Thoughts On Being A Student Again

Halfway through the second week of graduate school and I've pretty much established a routine.  It may need a little tweaking here and there, but I've more or less settled into a rhythm.  I haven't been a student in years.  And now here I am, going to classes again, struggling at times to pay attention to the lecture, trying (this early) to think of a topic for my MRR (which is a Masters degree thesis of sorts).

This time things are different.  In college, I would look forward to getting drunk with my buddies after class.  Sometimes we'd drink in between classes.  Now, I look forward to quickly scanning my notes for the next class after the previous class has ended.  I look forward to a coffee break while reading.  I look forward to going home to our unit to be with my wife and son.

Some things haven't changed.  We still pass notes and jokes and carry on conversations while the teacher is talking.  But now we're doing it through our secret Facebook group using our laptops.  That's a long way from passing notes surreptitiously or whispering to each other.

Regardless of the goofing off (which helps to keep us sane) I can tell that each of us is serious.  We have a lot more to lose this time than just a grade.  We've had to sacrifice a lot just to be here, after all.  And that's one of the things that keep me studying at night when all I want to do is sleep.

Talking about keeping our sanity, I've started to do daily ten-minute zazen sessions twice a day: once in the morning when I wake up and once at night before I go to bed.  I have a feeling this practice will help a lot in the months to come.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

2011 updates

It's time for an overdue blog post.  Let me just give an update on my current living situation:

I am now staying with my wife and child in a rented condo in Makati.  We transferred here a little over a week ago and we'll be staying here for a year while I pursue my Masters degree in Development Management.  We've adjusted pretty well this past week, all things considered.

I've learned some new things about myself.  For one thing, I no longer find accounting and finance that bad - at least not compared to many of my classmates.  Maybe this is because I've had real world experience working with accountants and accountant-types in the corporate environment where I came from.  Back where I came from, any time someone would bring out the financial statements I'd groan inwardly because I knew it was time for yet another discussion in which a lot of the terms would go sailing over my head.  But here, it's not so bad.  Turns out most development managers who take up the course don't have a clue when it comes to finance (with the exception of one guy who got a perfect score during a diagnostic quiz at the beginning).

Our class is the most diverse one in the school, with about fourteen different nationalities.  We can all speak English with varying degrees of fluency.  Some, like the Indians, are really fluent - but their accents take getting used to.  (And that's what I get for always trying to mimic their accent!)  Others, like this one Nepalese guy are practically incomprehensible - I find that I have to listen VERY carefully, and even then sometimes I still can't understand what is being said.  Still, the diversity of nationality and culture was one of the reasons I chose to pursue an MDM instead of the more-expected MBA.  I just never felt interested in getting an MBA.

Anyway, it's almost time for class so I will have to stop.