My Next Adventure – Sabbatical

It’s not technically a sabbatical since I resigned from my job but that’s what I’m calling it anyway.

Let me explain my path to this decision…

Over a year ago, I realized that my current career path was not leading where I wanted it to go. I had learned all I could from my current position and felt stuck as to where to move next. I participated in several special projects at work and through those and other volunteer activities, I realized that I love research…getting in people’s business by asking personal questions, compiling data, interpreting that same data, researching other’s studies and then creating recommendations driven by that research. It is exhilarating and exciting and I’m even smiling now as I think about it. So, of course, I did more research into careers that involve all of those things and I came back with a job title possessing very little history – Human Factors. This title, in fact, has only recently begun to enter our vernacular as a recognized field even though the components that make up the Human Factors discipline have been around for many, many years. It is basically what our world, as it relates to humans, is designed from. Human Factors professionals have been researching, analyzing and designing machines, technologies, spaces etc. for humans since we have been using them.  This discipline combines the fields of Psychology and Engineering to create the most human-friendly systems, technologies, methods etc. that are possible according to our understanding.

As I researched this field more, I realized that it was exactly what I’d been looking for. Upon discovering this, I began searching for colleges that offered degrees in Human Factors. Given that this field classification is so new, there are only two Universities in the US that offer degrees in Human Factors. After applying to and being accepted by my first choice, I attending their Open House. I was thrilled to visit the labs where research grants were awarded to study gaming, virtual reality, team dynamics, aeronautic technology and more. I began to build excitement for this new career path. I couldn’t wait to begin classes, participate in labs and contribute to research.

Having made the decision to attend the University in the fall, I began making preparations. It seemed logical to me to continue working for my current company while attending school. I handled clients in the Middle East and Asia so, to my thinking, it made sense to adjust my work schedule for earlier mornings and later nights which would also be more aligned with my clients’ schedules on the other side of the world. Although this was something my Directors agreed with, in the end, it was not feasible.

Having been declined by student loan providers without a cosigner, I wouldn’t be able to make enough money to supplement the financial aid and scholarships I had been awarded. One, even two, part time jobs while attending school would not be able to make up the difference. I guess we don’t always get everything we want, exactly when we want it. I don’t think it’s a ‘no’ forever, just for now. I don’t give up easily but maybe at a later date, circumstances will be different.

Traveling was my Plan B if I wasn’t able to get into school with any of my Plans A: a – f. As excited as I am about seeing new places and meeting new people, I am deeply sad about school not working out at this moment.

Regardless, I am lucky to have the resources to quit my job and go away for 5 months. And, it’s not a bad Plan B. I want to be flexible but starting September 1, I hope to see South Africa, Morocco, Greece, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and UAE.

sabbatical travel map

I plan to blog while on my travels, so look out for weekly-ish updates! Recommendations for any of the above locations are also appreciated.

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