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I have survived five and a half weeks in Japan: survived the initial anxiety with my host family, survived an early round of colds without falling ill myself, and survived some food whose contents I'd rather not know. Now comes the fun part: our class's second midterm.
Unlike our first midterm, this test covers only one chapter's worth of material despite taking up the same amount of time. Instead of the monotonous "interview" portion of the first test, which consisted exclusively of reciting memorized portions of the textbook, our exam features two parts largely unrelated to the text that we've studied for the last two weeks. The essay portion will ask us to look back and reflect on our experience at ICU, and will serve as a major transfer station for the Bitter Bus. The interview portion has been replaced with a "short speech" section, where we can talk for two to three minutes on a topic of our choice. I'm choosing the gaijin treatment, speaking about my mostly positive experience as a foreigner in a nation which only two generations ago was bitter enemies with America.
The big problem with this midterm is the short time we've had to prepare. We were only told about the exam on Thursday, four days before it was to take place. The bulk of my studying was done today, and I don't think I'm ready at all for it. I expect one or two people out of our class of 13 to skip the test entirely, having lost interest in the course as a whole. For me, the course credit from ICU is virtually worthless, but I'd still like to take a decent grade away from the summer.
Today was a very long day, to compensate for my short day yesterday. I more or less collapsed yesterday night around 10:00 PM after a filling meal with an extra-large beer. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I woke up at 6:00 AM this morning and actually got to work. I spent my first several hours taking care of non-exam business: typing an essay to hand in tomorrow, and revising a few club web pages in preparation for freshman orientation on campus. Nearly all freshmen will arrive on campus next week, but I want to make sure that everything's ready well in advance. Taking these projects is even harder when I'm 7000 miles and 13 time zones away -- and people tend to check their e-mail less frequently during the summer. I felt guilty about using about 45 minutes of at-home Internet time today, since even local calls in Japan are charged by the minute at rates higher than American long-distance. My host family insists that it's not a problem, but I try to keep my sessions as short as possible. Maybe I should type out all my e-mails off-line and just paste them in while on-line at home. After a day filled with homework and studying, I plan to get in bed to get my eight hours of sleep. Ten days ago, I was able to buy a donut and coffee before my first test, and that test went pretty well. I don't know how many donuts it will take to make up for my pathetic studying for this test, but I'll try one and hope for the best tomorrow.
This summer has blown by incredibly fast. I can't believe that week 6 is beginning, and a week from now I'll be home in New York. There's still so much to do both here and back home, and barely enough hours to do it all. As long as I keep reminding myself, I'll get it done.
This Sunday was the first in at least three weeks that I spent completely homebound, working on homework and test preparation. Tomorrow will be better, as I finally meet a friend of a friend's father near the Tokyo Dome for coffee. She wants to go to Starbucks. Groovy.