Back to school: with a plethora of emotions

Today marks the 1st day of class for my Masters in Educational Psychology in Hunter College. I am ridiculously and unapologetically excited. I feel my heart fluttering and beating quite quickly just thinking about it.

For this semester, I opted to just take 2.5? classes (The norm is 2 and there’s some pro seminar thing which I don’t know much about yet)  I wanted to slowly ease back into the system and enjoy the process. Unlike during my BA and Post Grad Dip days, where I had to run from tuition kid to tuition kid and/or part-time jobs, after/before classes. I now can luxuriate in printing notes, looking through class materials and blogging before class. This feeling is AWESOME! I must remember to thank my proud sponsor and loving husband for it all.

I’ve always wanted to study outside of the Singapore Education System and given my financial background in the past, I could scarcely afford my UBC exchange program without the two scholarships, I was extremely lucky to get. This time I feel even luckier because for once in my life, I need not worry about how am I going to pay the bills! I can just enjoy the process of studying and not have any stress about paying for books, maintaining a high GPA to be kept in my scholarship program or worry about my tuition kids, who often had the same exam periods as mine! I might get a part-time job/internship for the exposure to the educational field in my 2nd semester tho. Or perhaps, I will just continue volunteering for New York Cares because the organization is great and I enjoy working with less privileged children.

I feel ridiculously blessed to be at this stage in life where I feel I have no major struggle.  Honestly, I almost feel emotional just thinking about it. I was raised in a way, circumstantial or otherwise, that I was never just given stuff. I had to work hard for the things I wanted. Both my grandparents were from extremely humble backgrounds, endured great hardships and hence I was taught that education was an extremely extremely important means to live a better life, in a strictly financial sense (unfortunately). However, I now have the opportunity to engage in education in a ‘self actualization’, vis-a-vis education to satisfy ‘physiological needs’. I can learn for the sake of gaining knowledge and for betterment of self. Perhaps I shouldn’t have viewed them as dichotomous relationships, but I used to; for the instincts of survival was too overpowering.

I was never extremely intelligent so, in order to do well in school and in work; I compensated by having to work harder than the average Joe. I used to bemoan the fact that I wasn’t naturally gifted or handed silver spoons while growing up. But now, I’m extremely grateful that I have had to work hard to achieve the opportunities I have now. For it has given me clarity of thought, a mature and well grounded attitude in life and more importantly it has taught me to  be grateful,humble and content for the things I have. I’ve grown up to know,  not to feel entitled, and more importantly be responsible for my life because nobody was going to ‘rescue’ me. It is with this belief that I’m not going to pay for all of my (future possible) kid’s college tuition. I will give them a fixed amount, and they would have to work hard to get their own scholarships to fund the rest. Or perhaps they can choose to go to NUS or NTU which are world classes institutions at 1/4 the price of a private American college on par in terms of ranking (according to the Princeton Review). Yes I am very proud of my home Universities!

I have worked hard in the past and now, have reaped some of the benefits of that hard work in my youth. I acknowledge that I have a long way to go, and more hard work needs to be done, but I also realized that it is time for a well-deserved pat in my back. I have always been unnecessarily harsh with myself, and that has impeded much of the happiness in my journey through life. Through my quest for happiness and meaning in my life, I’ve finally realized that contentment and gratefulness are important trajectories of happiness. It’s not just about how much you have, but how much you appreciate what you have.

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