My day depends a lot on whether it’s a ‘driving day’ or not. As a commuter student living in Santa Cruz, the 80-mile trip to get to campus and back is a defining element of my schedule 4 days a week. Days with 8am classes start at 6am with a hot chocolate, my personal consolation prize to myself for being awake at that ungodly hour. Despite my extreme dislike for early morning hours, as I munch on my granola bar breakfast while crawling through traffic in Marina by 7:30, I can’t help but admire the beautiful scenery I get to experience every day as I travel through hills, farm fields and seascapes, all illuminated in the oranges and purples of a new sunrise.
My reward for my early morning travels, besides a coveted parking spot in the main MIIS student lot, is the smiling, if usually tired, faces of my fellow classmates. As an IEM student (International Education Management), I am surrounded by a fantastic cohort of intelligent, adventurous and deeply caring students and professors whose perspectives and experiences enrich my education daily. Whether we’re comparing education systems in France and Saudi Arabia, or learning to balance institutional budgets for our beloved, fictional “Alpha University,” I can always count on my classmates to explain, ‘how it’s done in Brazil,’ ‘what a Korean might think in this situation’ or ‘how this impacts the Arab world.’ My IEM cohort is also big on sharing. Technology expertise, baked goods, useful websites, internship opportunities and occasionally uproarious laughter are among the many things IEM students share with each other.
After a long day of classes it’s time to head back to Santa Cruz, but maybe I’ll stop at Café Lumiere to feed my popcorn addiction and tide me over until I get home. Now it’s study and drive time! (Multitasking win #1!) I plug in my laptop to my car’s stereo system and use the PDF speech function to have my class readings read to me out loud. While certain computer pronunciations are sometimes hysterical, in 8 hours of driving a week, I do get through a lot of school readings.
When I get home, I get a big hug from my wonderful husband, who is invariably in the kitchen making tasty Persian rice with tadiq, a crunchy, tasty layer at the bottom. (Having a supportive partner who shares cooking, cleaning & laundry: Multitasking win #2!) After the obligatory changing into sweat pants, we put the rest of dinner together and settle down on the couch with a meal and an episode of ‘Big Bang Theory,’ ‘Elementary’, etc.
After dinner it’s study and exercise time. Many an assignment at MIIS has been completed on my tread-desk! (Multitasking win #3!) I converted my treadmill into a walking desk where I spend hours walking, working and drinking tea, almost in equal parts, it sometimes seems. By 12:30 or 1:00am it’s bedtime. I say my prayers, cuddle up under my comforter and usually start dozing off before the lights are turned out. Another busy grad school day at MIIS is just a few hours away.