Back to school at 40!

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Elira Canga

I have had quite a few surprises in my life. As a journalist, as a mother or as citizen of a country which never lets you get bored! But nothing compares to what I am doing now: I am a student again at the age of 40! 

I had decided to apply a year ago to the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship after 20 years of work experience as a journalist and media developer.  But, I never thought that exactly a year later, I would come out of Sky Harbor Airport in the middle of the night, carrying my life in just four suitcases, to settle down for the next ten months in a city I had never seen or visited before. 

Sometimes you need a break from whatever you are doing, to stop, think, recharge batteries and then re-start at a new speed. For me, this change started with new classes at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, daily assignments, weekly deadlines and so much more. 

Life of a student! The unbearable lightness of beingā€¦.(and I remember I read the book my during the university years). How much I have missed it in all these years with running after news, projects and meetingsā€¦!

I am busy, not in a hurry, I love following the classes and meeting with other students from the U.S or my colleagues from 13 different countries. I am a bit stressed by meeting assignment deadlines and reflection papers for sure, but who isn’t? I was bombarded with information in the first couple of weeks, but I finally managed to put a reminding system in place for me, so that I cope with different deadlines. This is so much an element of American life, in contradiction with my chaotic Albanian style. 

Among everything I have to do, I still have time to run for 20 minutes in the morning and do some yoga on different days. And I am back to visiting museums and parks. The last park I was at was the Japanese Friendship Garden, an unbelievable oasis of greenery in Phoenix. By all standards, this was quite a surprise in the dessert. 

Well, life has thousands of ways to surprise you, even when you think you have planned everything!