One of the questions I get asked a lot is: “What’s it like
to be a snarky, computer-illiterate, old lady at Montgomery College?”
Well…not really. I’ve only actually gotten that question
once, and it was from a disgruntled family member whose diapers I used to
change, so it doesn't count.
However, in case you’re wondering, my experience as a student
here at MC is pretty different compared to the last time I was a student lugging
a heavy backpack around.
If you read last week’s blog post –thank you for that--you
may recall that I grew up a long time ago in a country far away from here:
Sweden in the late 1970’s. In my high school, we were expected to stand up every time a teacher entered the
classroom. In fact, we had to stand up any time any adult spoke to us. If you
happened to be the kind of kid who teachers felt the need to speak to
frequently, you could spend your entire day jumping up and down. Trust me, it
could get pretty tiring. And here’s the kicker, when passing a teacher in the
hallway, girls were expected to make eye contact, smile, and then curtsy
up-and-down quickly while walking by. The boys had to give a quick nod of their
heads, and say, “Good day, Sir.”
Yeah, good times.
I haven’t seen a lot of this at MC so far, but I tend to
hang out at the Goldenrod Building on the Germantown campus, so maybe things
are different in Rockville or Takoma Park.
The most significant difference that I’m having trouble
wrapping my head around is my classmates’ incredible ability to multitask. As
it turns out, you guys really CAN listen to a lecture while simultaneously
checking your relationship status on Facebook. I’m so jealous. On a bad day, I can’t even
listen to the car radio when I’m driving.
Something else that’s made a big impression on me is this: many
of you are working so hard. On top of your school work, you’re juggling jobs or
family responsibilities, and oftentimes both. Last semester, there were two young women in
my computer class at Rockville who, after putting in full, 12-hour night shifts
as nurse’s aides at the hospital, would show up at 9 a.m. sharp every Saturday
morning, straight from work, prepared for a 3-hour lecture. I really admire that.
Then there are those of you who are giving college a second
try. Maybe because the timing wasn’t right the first time around, or maybe you
had to put someone else’s needs before your own, or maybe life just got to be
too hard. That happens sometimes, and it takes courage to go back to school. I really admire that, too.
So this is what I say when people ask me what it’s like to
be a student at MC: I tell them that I love being part of this student body. When I’m in class, or walking down the hallways, or studying
in the library, not only do I see people like me, but I also see people of all ages,
of all skin colors, and of all ethnicities—a glorious mix of people from every
corner of the earth. Yet everyone is here for the same reason: we’re putting in
the hours of hard work because we’ve understood the value of a good education.
And, unless it’s finals week, everyone looks like they’re
having a pretty good time. Except for me. I just look snarky.