Today is the first of September – in Ukraine that means that it is the first day of school. Canadian students get an extra week to enjoy their summer and prepare for another year in the hallowed halls of academia.
A group of girls poses for me in their official 11th grade uniforms
I thought that I might have to wait another week for this to hit me, but being part of the “opening ceremony” at the orphanage and walking through the city today evoked an interesting shock to my emotions. I realized this afternoon that for the first time in 22 years I will not be buying new pens and pencils, or a “back to school” wardrobe. I didn’t have to worry about getting into courses, constructing the perfect schedule, or tuition. There will be no textbooks, no midterms and no exams.
Yikes! The anxiety welled up a little bit today as I walked through the hustle and bustle of a city come alive with students and beaming parents. I saw friends reuniting, the spiffy clothes, the quick conversations of summer adventures, the nervous little ones as they hurried to their first day. Parents having to take the day off to usher their offspring into the newest chapter of their lives. These are all the wonderful parts of going back to school. Watching all this unfold got me feeling a little bit nostalgic for these wonderful moments of the first day back. There is a ritual associated with going back to school that we are all aware of and participate in (and have consumerized ). Ukrainians live in a very traditional culture and so the ritualization of most things, including and especially the first day of school, happens on an even grander scale, so it was an even larger whack in the face! (like the girls and their 11th class uniforms pictured above)
I got a little bit panicky that I was merely an observer this year and not a participant. For so long “student” has been such a large part of my identity. I really wonder about what life will hold when I arrive back in Canada – too late to beg and plead to get back into school, but yet without a job lined up and no idea where to start.
The funny part about that is 4 months ago I was so happy that it was all over and done with (for a little bit) because I had grown tired and weary of academia. Afraid I was on the verge of becoming one of them (have I posted about my views on academia? Perhaps I should, but I’ll save that for another day). Four months ago there would have been nothing anyone could do to make me sign up for more of what had become so blasé, so under-stimulating. And here I am panicking!
Someone asked me the other day if I was afraid to come home – I started to giggle, and then my palms got sweaty, and my heart sped up. I hadn’t thought of it that way but he hit the nail on the head. Four months ago I started over – new city, new country, new language, new people, new culture, new job, new experience, new life. In less than a month I will have to start all over once again – new city, new country, new language, old people, old culture but with a new identity (NOT a student), new outlook, new understanding, and probably most importantly (for North American society) without a job! I am not sure what to expect out of life when I step back onto Canadian soil. It was thrilling to think of the “freedom” before I departed for Ukraine, but now that this “freedom” is imminent it scares the daylights out of me!
Not being able to enter back into the warm cozy shelter that school provides allows reality to get at you – job, life responsibility, money, and the most dreaded: adulthood. I’m not as excited about not going back to school as I thought I might be! For me September first has been a reminder that I am not ready to grow up!
I realize today that there is something that is of significantly more importance than finding a job, or starting a career: as soon as I am back I must figure out how to escape the clutches of what I see to be an eternal punishment that is closing in on me – I must thwart adulthood! If you have any ideas of how I might achieve this, please let me know....
Where I fit in the box of crayons....
- Do you ever get that feeling like there's more out there? That's the feeling that brought me to beyond borders. The global community is growing, and I have not yet become a part of it. I want to be a contributing citizen to the global community through participation and action. Over the years, I have developed an appreciation for diversity and difference, and look for other ways that people are doing things. There’s a whole world out there beyond our North American perspective that has the potential to change the way I see things, and to change my life. Gahndi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." I think we should not only find the change within ourselves, but also take part in the change we want to see in the world. I hope that Beyond Borders will offer a medium in which I can be the change I want to see in the world, and also take part in that change.