When a woman in her late twenties is described, it is most often a description of waiting for a ring, an engagement, a wedding and a marriage, or a pregnancy announcement, accompanied by all the excitement that goes along with that period of a woman’s life. I, a woman in her late twenties, am nowhere near where I am ‘supposed’ to be at this point in my life. I am an undergrad, and I could not be happier.
When I graduated high school, I went directly to college. I did what I was ‘supposed’ to do. I followed the linear developmental path that society expects, but did not know my direction; consequently, I decided that it was not where I belonged after one semester. I broke away from the linear developmental expectations of society. My parents were far from impressed. I was instructed to get a full time job if I would not be studying, and to their shock and dismay, I did. Within six months I had saved money and was headed overseas – there was no looking back. Instead of going through school in an expected linear journey, I realized my need to address my personal flourishing first, and embraced it. I came back with anticipation for the next trip.
On my next trip to Europe, I fell in love with an Australian. What followed during the next year was a long distance relationship, while working full time, and studying. I was in an Educational Assistant program, due to my parent’s insistence, and me feeling some monochronic societal pressures. One might think I would continue my submissive behaviour, and get a job after finishing, but following monochronic time, which Helman (2005) describes to be “something tangible, as well as linear,” (p. S54), is not I. Instead I saved and headed to Bangkok on a one-way ticket, with a year’s worth of travel insurance, alongside my two best friends. Allowing myself this freedom from the monochronic path I expected myself to be on, which is so frequently prescribed and followed, created an opportunity for me to flourish in finding myself, become stronger, and more clearly directed, all in my own developmental time.
After six weeks in Southeast Asia, a million laughs, a few cries, a stolen wallet, and a new appreciation for the people of this region, I headed to West Australia for a beach Christmas. A month later, I ventured over to the east coast to spend time with friends, and journeyed down to the land of Kiwis for a quick jaunt, before deciding I wanted to be able to make money while living this nomad, and non-monochronic lifestyle. I enrolled in a Teaching English as a Foreign Language course in Prague and was headed back to Europe!
For one month I was part of an extreme factory model program. It ran like clockwork and if you could not keep up, you were out. It was the most intense educational experience I have encountered, with some of the most dedicated educators I have witnessed. This experience allowed me to reminisce on all the pressures students face when expected to perform. I feel this was important, and is important for educators to be brought back to that level periodically, so they can relate, and are more accessible to their learners. I left my new life long friends with some anticipation to put my lessons to work, and headed home to surprise my family. I was on the hunt for a teaching job overseas. Within a month I had an incredible job offer in Sharjah for the coming school year, and had two months to prepare for my imminent departure.
My year teaching in Sharjah changed my outlook on learning environments. I arrived with my background in special needs and English, but was faced with a structure that allowed no room for students who needed adaptations: a strict factory model. I completed the Cambridge International Teaching and Training Diploma, which forced me to reflect on my own classroom practices. These combined experiences allowed me to come to the realization that I truly love teaching. I came to this conclusion in my own polychronic time, which Helman (2005) describes to be “a ‘point’ at which relationships, social interactions or events converge,” (p. S55). I love being in the classroom, seeing sparks go off in children’s eyes when they finally grasp a concept, seeing their excitement and anticipation for knowledge, putting together new ideas and the anticipation of trial and error, and having the chance to be silly. I love the learning process.
I came home after my year overseas ready to settle down. I got a job as an Educational Assistant, and a skating instructor, and bought my own place. I was satisfied for a period, but continued to question whether I should go back to school. This internal itch I had was continually scratched by administrators, teachers I worked with, and by my mom, all who thought I should go back to school. So after working as an Educational Assistant for four years, I decided to take the chance and enrolled in university, but first I would go on one more adventure.
In the summer of 2012, I headed to India for two months to volunteer at two different projects, one in northern India and the other in the south, both teaching English. Between all the teaching, eating, shopping, and sightseeing I fell head over heels in love with this magnificent country. The children I was privileged enough to spend time with were so incredibly inspiring; their determination to learn this language that can allow them more opportunities was amazing. This experience caused me to arrive back in Canada for a new school year, at work and in university, more determined than ever to succeed.
So here I am, in my late twenties, single with a mortgage, a cat that I brought back from the Gulf, a full time job, a full time course load, and against all Western societal expectations – I am happy. It may not be my monochronic time, but it is indeed my polychronic, developmental time. I am living my good life. I am following my passion when it is right for me. I am allowing myself to flourish in my own time, my polychronic time.
Since returning to the world to of post-secondary education with an end goal, I have been an extremely determined student. I want to be here, and I want to absorb as much as I can. I want to be an active student. I feel that I have life experience that can bring something to my classes, and opinions with merit. I am intrinsically and extrinsically motivated; intrinsically, since I am interested in what I am learning and take great pride in knowing more about what I am doing, and extrinsically, since I want to be accepted into the Paraprofessional Linking Program at Simon Fraser University. I am getting a true education right now in university, as I am tying together my experiences in the workplace with the lessons I am being taught and the ideas I am being exposed to in the classroom at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. I am driven, and motivated to be here, and look forward to a lifetime in the classroom – at the front of the room, or as a one of the pupils. I do not believe one should ever stop expanding their horizons.
Helman C. G. (2005). Cultural aspects of time and ageing. EMBO reports, 6(Suppl. 1), S54–S58. doi: 10.1038/sj.embor.7400402