Friday, September 28, 2012

One Week Down

Okay, so as I write this, I'm around twelve hours away from having been in Aberdeen for one week. Things have not gone entirely according to plan, but that's to be expected. I've gotten a lot of the hiccoughs sorted out, and I hope to have most of the rest sorted out by the end of next week. I have material for a few blog posts at this point, so I'll try to find some time this weekend to write them up.

Owing to my late arrival, I unfortunately missed the first day of class. I met with the Director on Tuesday, and attended courses thereafter this week while continuing to sort things out in the time available. I'm thrilled about the course material, and my classmates seem to be a really affable group. A bunch of us went to the pub the other day after class, and it was brilliant - precisely what I'd been picturing for the last two and a half years, and precisely what I deserved after more than a year's toil in the Middle East.

Next week will be critical, because it will be my first full week of classes, and after getting settled in, it will be my opportunity to set the agenda for the rest of the year. Having mostly screwed around for the last six months, my goal is to treat my weeks like a 40-45 hour per week job. It's appropriate, since I'm on leave of absence from my real job precisely for the purpose of completing this course of study (among others). As usual, I'm sure I'm being too ambitious, but here are the items I'll be including in those 40-45 hours per week.

  • Coursework: This currently consists of two classes totalling about seven hours of instruction per week, plus reading, plus assignments, plus exam prep. More detail on this later.
  • Security coursework: In addition to my master's degree, I have two additional certifications that I'd like to complete before I return to the real world: my Physical Security Professional certification from ASIS International, and my Certificate in Terrorism Studies from the University of St. Andrews. More detail on these later, as well.
  • Arabic: I desperately need to improve my Arabic skills, and I'll be dedicating some of my time to doing just that.
  • Writing: As I mentioned before, I intend to write a number of research papers for possible publication, regardless of whether any of them end up being turned into my eventual master's dissertation. Since I'll be tasked with doing plenty of writing anyway, I'm probably most willing to be flexible on this one.
  • Physical Fitness: Week by week, I'll be posting my physical fitness plans. When I was living in Virginia and the Middle East, my opportunities to exercise were severely limited, and I allowed myself to get lazy when I was living back in the States. I've never been in fantastic physical shape, but years of sitting behind a desk have taken a toll on me, and I severely want to change this. Once I get my ID card early next week and can use the pool, I intend to start on this with a vengeance. Another goal is to entirely discontinue taking the bus to and from campus, a slightly hilly hike, by the beginning of 2013.

    Alright, that's probably enough for this post, I should do some reading for class and then head to bed. Last night, I was awake until about two in the morning, and subsequently slept until almost noon because I could - but, I slept straight through (until late morning) without waking up in the middle, which is progress!
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