This Mom’s Reality: Bumps in the road

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This Mom's Reality Athabasca University Inas Zeidan International Student Gerrmany #AthaU AU Online Education Work Life Balance Online Learning Mother's Day Mom's Day Bumps in the Road Bachelor of Management

My original plan was to earn my Bachelor’s degree long before I had any children. Back in 2005, I applied at a college in Manitoba for 2+2 program. Basically 2 years of college, then after earning my diploma, continuing for another 2 years at university for a Bachelor’s degree. I was very eager for the experience of college and university and was looking forward to the next four years of post-secondary education.

Life works in funny ways — fast forward 10 years and I have only accomplished the first part of the program. After earning my diploma, life took a detour and I decided, with two children under the age of 5, to continue with my journey as a single mother.

Starting a new chapter in Germany, I was excited for the fresh start. At the same time I was trying to figure out how to earn my degree while not living in Canada.

Bumps in the road…

With two kids and a part-time job it is easier said than done. Trying to juggle my children’s lives (with my boy in grade one and my daughter in kindergarten) and their extra-curricular activities (karate, rope-skipping, gymnastics) while working and trying to keep up assignments/study for exams seemed to be impossible.

The first bump in the road was the time zone — 8 hours time difference. A simple phone call to the Student Support Centre was not a given. Planning questions in advance meant to prepare, not for one question, but several while going through the course work.

Another struggle — keeping the study goals realistic. With a ten-year break I was too eager and too ambitious. I had to learn to be realistic and plan my workload in rather smaller parts.

I’ve tried list upon list of tips and tricks, however, it would just pile up all the important tasks and to-dos while not being able to prioritize — I ended up feeling overwhelmed, less motivated, and at times, even feeling defeated

The realistic part as a single mother, who is also working part-time: studying won’t get accomplished by just making to-do-lists. I had to learn to schedule my activities during the day by planning studying blocks and also schedule very specifically.

A typical study weekday

8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.: Work
1:30 –  3:30 p.m.: Study
3.30 – 8:30 p.m.: Pick up kids (basically busy with kids until both are in bed)
8:30 – 10:30 p.m.: Study

This example does not apply to every weekday, since other chores such as housework, children’s extra-curricular activities and the other unavoidable appointments interfere.

Me and my childrenat Lake Starnberg in Bavaria, Germany.

Me and my childrenat Lake Starnberg in Bavaria, Germany.

Where do I study?

The location for the study block had to be outside of home. In the beginning, I ended up doing anything but study during the actual study block. For example, the kitchen oven needed cleaning or the windows needed a solid wipe (all eight (!) of them). You get the gist —I had to be away from any distractions in order to focus and get on with the course.

At times it was a Starbucks on a weekend or a library during weekdays. Of course at evening study block, it is unavoidable but to study at home.

The key to studying at AU, besides high-speed internet and a really dedicated study time table: discipline.

You have go to force yourself to pull through, especially at times when you feel stuck and lost.

I have been there and I just calculate the hours and called up Student Support or better yet dropped a request online at Student Support Centre to schedule a phone conversation with my tutor. I receive reaffirming guidance and the much needed support from the Student Support Centre!

Inas Zeidan, a single mother of two, moved from Germany to Canada in 2003 and graduated from Assiniboine College with a Business Administration diploma (Accounting Major) in 2008. After the birth of her son and daughter, in 2009 and 2011, took a two year maternity leave. Inas started at Brandon University for one term and went on to work for Government of Canada.  In 2013, Inas left Canada for North Africa to work at the United Nations Development Programme in Libya. The mission was aborted due to the political instability. In Libya, Inas first got in touch with Athabasca University in order to earn her Bachelor of Management degree. She left Libya in 2014 and moved back to Germany.  In 2015 from Germany, she applied at Athabasca University for the Bachelor of Management (post-diploma) program. She continued her education while working part-time and raising her children at the same time. Inas is currently on her final course, with her goal to earn her Bachelor’s degree this summer.