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From the U.S. to Libya: A Student’s Journey to Online Education

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learning-overseasBy Asma Elfatesi
Online Learning Tips, Guest Student Contributor

I never thought I would study at a completely online university such as American Public University. My family and I used to live in Virginia and I have gone to school there since my family moved to the United States. I graduated from high school and entered a community college with the goal of finishing an associate degree and then transferring to the local university to complete a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. I enjoyed chemistry since high school and have always had great chemistry teachers and professors. So my plan was to graduate with a chemistry degree and become a high school chemistry teacher.

However, during my two years at the community college, my homeland Libya had followed suit its neighbors and demanded change with the fall of Giddafi and his government. The old regime was the reason why my family and many others were living abroad. Some of us Libyans living abroad in exile have lost hope in change and so Libya’s revolution restored that hope and gave us pride in our country. As I said before, I was studying at the community college during those days and had a hard time studying because I was keeping up with the day-to-day news. During the revolution, my love for my country grew, and after the fall of Giddafi’s regime, my family and I decided it was time to move back. My country’s revolution changed me and I began thinking differently about my goals and my future. I wanted to move and help in the rebuilding of my country. A country that has been moving backward for forty-two years doesn’t just need physical rebuilding, but also intellectual rebuilding. When deciding to move back, I did not think that I would face hardships in continuing my education.

After moving, I went to apply at the university in Tripoli, but the staff refused to evaluate my credits I earned while getting my associate degree. I first tried applying at the faculty of pharmacy then at the faculty of English, but to no avail. Forty-two years of dictatorship made Libyans have a one-way mentality so there was no variety in ideas and approaches. I did not want two years of hard work and good grades to go to waste. Despite the troubles, I did not regret moving back to Libya because the reasons behind my decision were beyond education. I wanted to finish my studies and earn a degree to gain knowledge and experience to help my country, but I felt attached to Libya. After more than six months, I realized that I was wasting my time and delaying my graduation date. I began to consider other options and searched for online universities in the United States because I knew they would evaluate and transfer all of my credits.

I came across American Public University while looking at the transfer agreements made between my community college and other four-year universities. Although APU did not offer the degree I was aiming for at first, it did introduce me to a new degree path and a new opportunity. I registered at the university and chose to study environmental science. Besides being a very interesting subject, I knew that environmental science and management degrees will increase in demand as the country begins progressing and developing. The thought of finding a way to help my country in the future motivated me. Because American Public University allows its students to work at their own pace, I plan to complete my degree requirements by the end of the summer of 2014, which is not far from my original graduation date. I’m excited to be starting classes next month and thankful for APU for providing me with a solution to continue my education while living where I belong after years of absence.

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