adult learner, Graduate Student, Military, Navy, Parents, Study Abroad

Studying Abroad as a Parent

Brent Harris headshot

Brent Harris

https://portfolium.com/baharris123

Creative Writing MFA

29 Palms Region

“Freeeedddooooommm!”

Shout that in your best Braveheart voice, for that’s the euphoria I felt as I stepped onto the curb, kissed the wife and kids goodbye, and sauntered into the Palm Springs departure terminal.

In January, my Navy wife went away on deployment – for seven months – leaving me at home with two kids, a Master’s program, community volunteer projects, and a perpetually empty cup of coffee. Those months were challenging. My daughter had ballet twice a week and a residency in Anaheim, my son had Toddler Tumbling and was not yet in school. I was teaching on Tuesdays, in between two back-to-back scripts for school.

A break loomed.

The NU Scholar’s program offered a study abroad opportunity to Tijuana. A weekend away from the kids, a break when there was none, to go down South of the Border? Sign me up! I dutifully did the repeat photography assignments, finding pictures of the past to compare with pictures from today. I was all set. And then my son got pink-eye.

I couldn’t go.

The joys of parenthood.

Flash forward several months, and I was afforded an opportunity to visit Vancouver to study abroad. And I’m so very glad I did. Vancouver is a beautiful place with beautiful people. It’s not an old city, but it is rich with culture and vibrant nature. Had I gone to the city by myself, as a tourist, I would have failed to see the splendor beyond the tourist traps. Going as part of the NU study abroad program, travelling with others, allowed me to see parts of the city most would have passed. An amazing coastline, foggy bridges, strange statues, a shower of autumn-red maple leaves, and buildings with a history all their own. The food was great, the people better, and at the end of each day, our phone cameras were full, and our feet were worn.

While there, my first feelings of Freedom! slipped away as the greatness of the experience enveloped me. It was no longer a trip to escape, but the forging of a new friendship. Vancouver will be with me forever.

Clubs, Education, Graduate Student, self care

Hard Work: Becoming a Teacher

Bethany Rickman headshot

By Bethany Rickman, NU Scholar (July 2018 Cohort)

Master of Education with Single Subject Credential, English – Fresno

If someone would have told me, 8 months ago, that becoming a teacher while earning my Credential and masters would be the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life, I might not have totally believed them. You see, I’ve always considered myself to be a hard worker, and I’ve been able to accomplish most goals that I’ve put my mind to with relative ease. So, I assumed that this goal would be no different.  

But I was wrong. 

Or, rather, I was mentally unprepared.  

The truth is, I have never worked so hard or had to balance so many responsibilities, objectives, and, quite frankly, emotions, ever before.  

Now, this is not to say that I regret setting out to accomplish the goal of becoming a teaching intern and earn a Credential and master’s degree. It has been the most rewarding 8 months of my life. But it has also been the most stressful.  

Although I was unaware of the extent of the hard work around the corner, I was still able to draw on my past hard-working and goal-achieving experience, and combine that with the incredible support and resources I have received at National University.  

So, if there is anyone out there who is about to embark on a journey similar to mine, allow me to be the person who tells you that you are about to work the hardest you ever have in your life. But this warning is not meant to be foreboding, and it happens to come with some helpful tips: 

  1. Use the University Resources- National has an incredible library, writing center, and more! I have absolutely used the writing center on several occasions to help me finalize a paper or perfect my APA formatting. If you’re struggling to complete, perfect, or even understand your coursework, use these resources!  
  1. Create a calendar- You’re going to have so many assignments, observations, assessments, adjunct duties (or whatever the equivalent is for non-teachers) and they’re all going to happen on the same day! Ok, maybe not literally, but it will definitely feel like it. Having some sort of calendar of events will help you keep track because, trust me, you won’t be able to keep it all straight in your head. I’ve tried. And failed. Not only will a calendar help you remember important dates, but it will also help you prioritize and pace your workload.  
  1. Reach out to like-minded colleagues I have been so fortunate to meet dozens and dozens of incredible and inspirational colleagues in my time at National. Whenever I have a question about an assignment or need someone to peer-review my Cal TPAs, I have several people that I can turn to and trust to support me in reaching my goals.  
  1. Join a Club- Now, I know it sounds crazy to add one more thing to your plate when you’re already working this hard. But joining a club has not only widened my peer circle, but it has made me feel like I am part of the bigger picture here at National. Sometimes, being bogged down in work and coursework can feel isolating. You’re so hyper focused on your own goals that you don’t stop to realize what an amazing institution you’re a part of, and the role you can play in giving back. Since joining a club, I not only have an outlet to help relieve the stress of working hard, but I have also met more incredible colleagues and staff who also play a role in supporting me in my personal goals.  
  1. Make time for self-care- If there’s one last thing I can leave you with, it’s a friendly reminder that you are a human, not a machine. You need to stop and take a breath every once in a while. In fact, schedule it on that calendar that you just created. Whatever helps you decompress and re-energize so you’re ready to tackle your next goal, do it! You NEED it!  

Now get to work!