Friday, August 28, 2009

In Russia, DDP student empowers self

Distance Degree Programs students need a computer, Internet access and motivation. In Russia, a broom can also come in handy.
In 2004, student Susan Hale went to Moscow when her husband, Wayne, took an aluminum company job there. “Our apartment was wonderful on the inside,” she said, “but the wiring was Soviet-era and failed all the time.” She was frustrated – until she found the fuse box, high above the floor in a stairwell: “I realized I could go into the hallway with a broom and flip the circuit switch back on.”
Hale, 52, also learned the hard way that Russian Internet providers charge by the megabyte.
More... “Once our daughter downloaded some music and used up a month’s worth of Internet time,” Hale said. Whenever her time ran out, Hale had to find a language translator, walk to the Internet office, and pay in cash. “It usually took a day for them to turn the Internet back on,” she said. “This put a serious dent in my ability to stay connected to the DDP.”
Mailing academic materials back to the U.S. was also a problem. “The Russians were very suspicious of anything leaving the country,” she said. “A simple envelope required your visa information, your registration information, your passport information and a Russian contact to verify and confirm the transaction.”
When the frustrations grew too much, she put her college education on hold. She returned to DDP when she moved to her current home in Monterey, California.
Hale lived in Utah when she first joined DDP in 2002. “I really wanted to finish my degree but I didn't want our transient lifestyle to get in the way,” she said. “I was born in Seattle, so I looked into some of my home state offerings. WSU had the perfect program: Distance-based classes to finish your degree in a reasonable but structured environment.”
Hale will graduate this December with a social sciences degree, becoming the final family member to earn a university degree.
“I took the longest to reach my destination,” she said, “but I’ll be the only Cougar in the family.”

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