I am finally writing about graduate school! But first, a disclaimer: purchasing a TEFL course through the link here will result in us receiving compensation. We appreciate you trusting our opinion on the products that will help you teach and travel in 2020!
Writing about graduate school is something I have wanted to do for a long time. I kept putting it off because I wasn’t sure what approach I wanted to take in talking about what it’s like to live abroad, work full time, and pursue a Master’s degree.
When I moved abroad I knew I wanted to start graduate school online. I spent my first few months in Korea researching different online English programs, and to be honest, there aren’t many. I knew I wanted to go to a reputable school that was also affordable. So when I discovered BGSU, I knew it was the one.
Balancing Graduate School and Traveling
I started at BGSU after four months in Korea, totally ready to be a part-time student and full-time teacher. My first semester was a lot of work. Particularly my editing class. But I managed to get through the semester with very few setbacks. By the time the end of the semester rolled around though, I was sure I did not want to take summer classes. So I dropped the course I had signed up for over the summer months and decided to take that time for myself.
Which I’m glad I did, since I took a ten day trip to Vietnam and Thailand in June. While I would have been fine in Thailand, I didn’t have much luck finding good WiFi in Vietnam. And I wouldn’t have been able to fully enjoy my time in either place.
In December, I turned in my final projects almost two weeks early in order to fully enjoy my trip to Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia. Taking only a carry-on and staying in hostels, bringing a laptop isn’t ideal. And my iPad mini was hardly functioning and could never handle the Canvas app.
Fast forward to February 2020 and I was doing homework in Bali. Fortunately I bought a new iPad, which made for lighter travel than my laptop. While doing homework on vacation wasn’t ideal, I could think of much worse places to be doing homework. Before leaving I finished all my big projects that were due over the course of my vacation. I only had to do some readings and discussion posts while in Bali.
My biggest piece of advice for anyone doing online graduate work–if you are traveling at any point during your semester, try to finish all the major assignments early. I couldn’t imagine stressing about a paper or project while traveling abroad.
Balancing Graduate School and Working Full Time
Going to school and working full time is not an easy feat and I admire anyone and everyone who takes on this challenge. My first semester was so busy. My editing class had assignments and discussions due twice a week and my other course had quite a lot of reading.
The one thing that people don’t realize when they take online classes is that you must do the readings. There’s no way around it. You don’t attend lectures where professors cover the reading material. You have to learn it on your own time.
Over the last three semesters I have gotten quite good at time management. I know when I work best. I have a small desk calendar on my desk at work where I write in all my assignment due dates. Since it’s right where I can see it, I look at it every single day. And I realize that I may need to stay in on the weekends in order to get my work done.
Foresight is necessary to succeeding in attending school and working full time. But I also have a lot of other factors that work in my favor. I am single, childless, and live alone. These things remove a lot of external distraction from my life. Many of my classmates are married with children and I admire that they are able to do everything they do. I couldn’t imagine juggling any more than I already do.
While the balancing act of school, work, and traveling isn’t always easy, it is beyond worth it for me. I place a high value on education. Before I even began my undergraduate degree I knew that I would likely continue on for another degree. A lot of people think they may want to get a Master’s while in school, but lose that passion after graduating. I never did, and I don’t think I will ever lose my passion for learning. But one thing is clear. If you love learning, you will find a way to balance everything in your life, including getting that degree.