As students, we sometimes forget that our professors have led lives before teaching. We take the time to keep track of friends during class or check Facebook while doing homework but have you ever stopped and thought about what your teacher’s lives must’ve been like when they were faced with the same challenges as us?
Mark Tolstedt, a communication professor here at the University of Wisconsin -Stevens Point, is living proof that there’s life after all the stresses in school.
“I was involved to the point of being too involved, Church, family, friends, and sports essentially took up all of my time,” Tolstedt said.
When asked what he typically did on weekends, Tolstedt replied, “I was always so involved with things that I would just go to bed. Sometimes I would go out on a date with a girlfriend or something of that nature, but most of the time I just went home and went to sleep.”
While being a sports fanatic kept Tolstedt occupied most evenings, he still managed to have time for fun.
“Oh yes, my friends and I got into some trouble. Just the typical stupid stuff we weren’t supposed to do,” Tolstedt said. “My favorite memories were taking long weekends and going camping, canoeing, and backpacking with friends.”
Growing up in the Philippines has allowed Erlinda Reyes, a professor in the education department, to live a very different life from those here in America.
“Being family oriented was the most important part. I was helpful at home, did track, and studied,” Reyes said, “Philippians value the meaning of family and education above all else.”
Because of their strong family values it was mandatory for her and her family to take the 3-mile ride to Reyes’ grandmother’s house every Sunday to drink cocoa, eat cookies, and bread for two hours before studying hard the rest of the day.
“Now it is so difficult to get kids to do anything on Sundays,” Reyes said.
Reyes dealt with some culture shock when coming to America.
“Life is so different because we wouldn’t go out with our friends that often,” Reyes said, “We were expected to stay home and help with the family. We were never allowed to go on dates or movies unless it was in groups; we went to school and study, study, studied. Our one joy was listening to the radio.”
Being too poor to own a television, Reyes and her family would listen to scary stories, fables, and fairy tales before going to bed but when their mother said it was time for bed; it was time for bed.
“In Asia, whatever the mother says, goes. I sometimes have a hard time when younger people question everything,” Reyes said. “There is that level of respect that has been lost.”
As someone who had a teenage lifestyle more similar to those in America than Reyes, Helena Alden, a sociology professor at UWSP still admits to having to adapt to American culture.
“I came here in 1995 when I was 21 from England so it was a tad bit of a culture shock coming to the states,” Alden said.
The education system is very different in England where generalized schooling essentially ends at 16 and the following two years students have a more focused class schedule.
“We are focused on adulthood more quickly in England. There are certain expectations in that you choose whether you want to continue with your education at 16 and decide if you want to go to tech school or college. Even though I was a bit of a rebel, I got through those years in my life,” Alden said.
Although she acted out a bit and was a occasionally truant, Alden still managed to get good grades, win awards for her achievements, and play for every women’s sports team available. She describes her typical weekends as hanging out with friends until she was 18.
“The drinking age in England is 18 so we would then go to this heavy metal biker pub and I would ride my motorcycle around,” Alden said.
It’s clear to see that although we spend hours on end every semester with faculty, we don’t usually know the adventures they’ve embarked on that made them the person they are today.
The next time you feel like professors don’t understand how busy you are remember that they were students at one point and played the game too.