I graduated in the days when a mobile phone battery lasted for days and credit for minutes. My first SMS was sent from a pager and my email password only required four letters.
I graduated from my first master’s in the 20th century and I spent a couple of weeks in Crete celebrating the end of my student life as any respectable young, wild and free student would do.
Many years later, I find myself studying again to obtain my 21st century master’s. And we are not talking postmodernist painters or Buddhist art here – which one might think more suitable for a woman my age. We are talking serious business: an MSc in Digital Marketing.
The multifaceted life of a student parent
I might still be young and wild (at heart) but I’m definitely not free anymore. I have become a mother of two in the meantime. My daughter is a princess without front teeth and my son loves watching Peppa Pig wearing diapers like he used to when we lived in Kuala Lumpur.
I’ve been interested in the digital world for a while. I created a blog back in 2007 when we moved to Norway in order to share our experience. I kept this blog alive during our years spent in Asia. It was nice but I wanted to understand more about the technicality behind it.
When we moved to Aberdeen a year and a half ago I went to the RGU open day and I knew after the one-to-one short meeting with one of the course leaders that I wanted to do this master’s. Then a major problem arose: who would take care of the kids when I’m on campus? When would I find time to read, learn and write my essays? How would I get organised to meet up with my team for the several group projects? My daughter suggested I could hire Mary Poppins, to which I replied that she was living in London for the time being and was not available.
Unleash your creativity to overcome logistics issues
We have no family or grandparents to take care of the children while I am at university. My husband and I looked at few options and we decided to opt for an au pair. Someone who would not mind living with a French-speaking family in an English-speaking country.
So, I had to be a bit creative here. I decided to target au pairs unprejudiced about Scottish weather and see what Aberdeen has to offer to a young woman: great student life, great outdoors for the sporty type and great microbreweries for the not-so-sporty type. The strategy paid off and six months on my au pair is a happy addition to the family. The au pair option is great as it is very flexible and I get help with the daily routine in the house during the week.
I manage to fit in my study during the week when the children are at school. If I have not finished my daily objectives I can always get support from the au pair whilst I disappear for a few more hours. This strategy also works for sporty moments like going for a run or not-so-sporty moments like meeting up with some friends for dry martinis.
Weekends are dedicated to my kids. I learnt how to prioritise and now I certainly pick my battles (i.e. cinema over laundry, sushi lunch over ironing). I’m fortunate enough to say that I don’t struggle with time management because life in Aberdeen is dead easy.
Aberdeen, the Granite but great city
Well, now that I put some thoughts together I can genuinely say that Aberdeen is actually a great place to study and raise kids.
It is a small city with no traffic (if you want to see what real messy traffic is, I suggest you check out Kuala Lumpur). Where else in the world can you finish your Digital Marketing class at RGU at 16.00, stop at the local supermarket for a refill of diapers and haggis, pick your kid up at the nursery and be back home at 17.00?
It is a very safe place.
You don’t line up for anything (except for waiting for the bus).
Life After Grad
I will be starting a new life in another part of the world next year. We are a nomad family due to my husband’s job. I will hopefully transform my newly acquired knowledge into a somehow portable career. I will take my digital skills with me but I will definitely leave the bag of diapers behind me!
Can you find out where the picture was taken? Write your guess in the comments below (hint: Kuala Lumpur is not by the sea).
Karine, digital marketing MSc student, carpool chauffeur and food shopper by day, homework mom and bedtime storyteller by night.