March 25, 2017

Dorming after 50

(Photo by Francisco Medina)

My family lives in Southern California and I left them behind to pursue my dreams.

I’m a 54-year-old mother of four — Christian, 27, Ali, 26, Majd, 25, and Christina, 21 — as well as two grandkids, six-year-old Khaled and four-year-old Amir.

My family was very reluctant to accept my decision to come to Sacramento State for further education. They argued that I could have just accepted the offer from Cal State Fullerton, which is closer to home. I thought that being in Sacramento, where all the laws of the state originate, would help me with my journalism career in the future.

From the first day I arrived at the residence halls on campus, I felt like a total stranger living in a hotel. It was as if I was on a vacation of some sort and the small studio room at the American Residence Courtyard was just a place of refuge at night. Here at the dorms, once you leave in the morning, you don’t come back until nighttime.

The first three days, I was in an exploratory mood and decided to go from one hall to the other, trying to remember names of every building to get acquainted with the massive size of the Sac State campus. But even with that, I still wandered on campus and occasionally felt lost — not only physically, but spiritually. I felt alienated living among the faces of smiling students being young and happy.

Of course, there is a big difference between the ordinary students coming straight from high school or the 22-year-old transfers and me, a mother and a grandparent living past the mid-century mark.

For instance, I’m continuously being mistaken for a faculty member. Sometimes I see that look in a group of young students’ faces as if they were thinking, “Really? You’re a student here?”

I met five other students who live across the hall from my studio. We promised to meet but I haven’t seen them since. It’s not that I’m planning to party with them, but seeing and talking to them again would be nice.

Don’t get me wrong, most of the kids in the residence halls are beautiful, respectful and have bright minds. Whenever we cross paths, they greet me or hold the elevator for me, but I think that the idea of having an older person in the dorms is still kind of strange for them.

After all, I thought that living here was going to give me a boost in my career, but what I’m finding is that I’m practically trapped on campus and unable to move at my will – at least this is how it has been for these past three weeks.

Maybe I will get used to dorm life but, for now, it hasn’t felt too rewarding.

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14 Comments

  1. What a courageous person you are! Please come out on Fridays and see how many elderly people attend the Rennaisance Program at CSUS. You won’t feel so old compared to us! Seriously, I applaud you for following your dreams no matter what age you are. I tell every student I mentor that we are never “done” with our education, it is a lifelong pursuit.

    To make you feel less trapped go and get a cover for your student ID card that will allow you to use the county bus system, it’s called an RT student pass. It’s free and will get you off campus and around the community. Go spend the day downtown and visit the Capitol, see Old Town and the Sacramento River. Sacramento and the soounding communities offer so many fun experiences; shopping, parks, ethnic foods and excellent museums.

    Even within walking distance is Capitol Public Radio station, several shopping centers and restaurants, and the American River Parkway trail system. I urge you to make friends with non-dorm students as well because they are locals and know the area well. They can recommend the best places to shop, eat out and go see. Also check with Peak Adventures on campus for trips and tours to join.

    You’ll be enjoying life on and off campus very soon. It just takes a little while to settle into a new town. Just wait and see. And go ahead and get out and explore!

    • Thank you Darleen for your comfort and advise.
      It was difficult for me as mother to leave my family’s town, no matter how old my children are. They are my babies and always will be.
      I have not been able to move much in campus. I’m housed at the other end of my car that is “housed” on structure II.
      The second day of classes I injured my ankle. I was in clutches for two weeks; That explains more my seclusion.
      I was able to go to classes because Health Services provided rides from class to class but only under a tied schedule. Besides that it was painful to walk.
      Being new in the city it is always stressful, I wondered one day and I got so lost even with GPS, and maps. 🙁
      It will get better I know, but slowly.

  2. It’s rough being an older student but can’t imagine leaving a family behind like she did. Being an older student like myself, I find it hard to relate to my peers that are 12 – 14 years younger then me. How can someone being that much older relate to them? They should make an organization/club for older students.

  3. Hi Bob
    There are many activities we can enjoy here at campus and not necessarily have to be with younger students. We can read, go to the gym, or enroll in clubs that certainly will keep me busy or simply studying for my classes; I’m enrolled in 16 and that in itself should keep me busy. But it is not the idea to stay busy but to stay mentally healthy.
    I think the shock of the first days are weaning away. Still feel lonely and that is understandable. Living in the dorms is really depressing at least for me because I live in an small studio that can not offer the comfort of a home. Specially that I left behind my garden that I love to care for and my pets.
    Live will get better I know. We human are creatures of costumes.

  4. My beloved Mother,

    I am so happy that you are pursuing your passion in journalism. Knowing how committed and passionate you are about writing, I have no doubt you will find success. You may feel alone, and far away from your family (us!) and maybe even alienated on campus, but know that we are with you in spirit cheering you own! 🙂

    It will only be a matter of time until you find comfort in your living space. While this will never replace your home and your family, I hope you can find it a cozy substitute.

    I know you are working hard, and I just want you to know that I am so very proud of you and what you have accomplished thus far. Thank you for being such an inspiration. I love you, hang in there, mom!

    • Hi papacito.
      I replied earlier but there was a glitch in the page.
      I miss you so very much. I love you guys ❤️
      It have been over a month since I came to Sac State and I haven’t find my place yet. I still feel alienated by the youth’s energy bouncing around campus.
      As much as I enjoy writting I miss home more every day. Sometimes I feel like dropping everything and just go back and continue to be just a mom., but then I remember why are here for and how hard was to get where I’m now..

  5. I may not be her age, but I too feel trapped. I feel that housing on campus could improve on connecting with their residence and offering more social activities to help. I have lived with students as mature as her, and with the campus and housing, our experience was lasting. It all is the housing and what they are offering to their residence.

  6. You are an outstanding, brave and determined woman – a real inspiration to women everywhere. Proving that no matter what age, learning, self improvement and personal growth is… and should continue be a lifelong endeavor. You are undaunted and resolute into pursuing your goals in a place dominated by a younger generation because you are well aware that there is yet so much to experience, learn, discover and do in the world! Congratulations for having the fearlessness to, “travel the road less travelled”. No doubt you are headed to greatness and much success. The number of friends on campus may not be many right now, but I have no doubt that there’ll be many seeking your friendship as time goes by. And the ones fortunate and wise enough enough to really get to know you, will be enriched by your influence and experience insights beyond their wildest dreams.

    • Rosa thank you for your beautiful words; They are so encouraging.
      For the longest time I wanted to change my reality and challenge myself to a greater things.
      I know that for many coming to school is a granted privilege, but for me was a battle all along and still is. But, I will come out victorious! 🙂

  7. Having had the pleasure of knowing you for over eight years now I can say that I’ve always been impressed with your sense of social responsibility and relentless pursuit towards rising public awareness in order to bring about world peace and justice for all humanity. I know that all your sacrifices will not only be rewarded in numerous accomplishments and personal fulfillment, but your activist endeavors will motivate many into joining the effort of making this world a better place for all.

  8. You have chosen to put yourself outside of your comfort zone to pursue your dreams. My friend, that is the only way. Regardless of what experiences the now brings, you will come out the other end as a wiser and more insightful person. These are qualities you need in your toolbox to be a good journalist. Enjoy the journey.

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