By Kazuya Muto
"Due: Week 4 Friday," "Due: Week 5 Monday," "Due: Week 5 Wednesday" ...
I've enrolled in four units this semester so I usually have one or two assignments every week, not to mention the six assignments, three mid-term exams and one nightmarish presentation (which I'll talk about later) before term break (that's the second last week of September). To say that's hard is, well, an understatement.
And it's not only me who's having trouble. My friends Wen, Shirley, Phillipe and Robert are all struggling to finish all their work. These days, whenever we meet, the first thing we ask each other is: "So how many assignments do you have?"
The way I go about doing assignments is very poor. To use a driving analogy, I usually cruise along on low or second gear, and then about three days before the deadline, I suddenly shift into top gear as I scramble to get everything done. Inevitably I end up regretting that I hadn't started earlier and been better at using my time.
It's hard to study at home because it's a minefield of distractions, and most attempts to hit the books just end up with me surfing the Net, chatting with friends, or taking a nap. So I usually study in the university library, and I'm always surprised how studious all the other students seem to be (at least, during term time). The library is almost always full, even on weekends, and whenever I see people studying in the library, I feel that I should study even harder.
And not just study. I also feel like I should play harder too and enjoy myself more. That's what one of my Australian friends said the students there do. They work hard during semester, but come the holidays, they make the most of their time off and enjoy it as much as they can. I wanted to do something similar so I wouldn't regret my time here when it came for me to leave.
This all ties into what I wrote last week about how I wasn't sure what I'd learned since coming to Australia. I worry about this a lot, and I always feel under pressure from teachers and students to show how I've matured here. It scares me because if I haven't matured, I can't think of any excuse why I haven't, and once I start going down that track, one worry follows on from another, and I end up just getting depressed and doing nothing.
Studying abroad, I think, isn't easy. It's certainly very hard for me (not only in terms of studying, but everything else as well, even making friends), although it's also very fruitful. But it's so easy to take it easy and just float through your one year here without doing much. After all, as exchange students, we have no diploma or certificate to work for, so there is no great motivation to set goals, work hard, or, really, to do anything.
But I can't take it easy. I feel I have a responsibility to my parents, who write to me every day, to my teachers, who are always looking out for me, and above all to myself. So I've decided to make myself as busy as I can, whether it's working or enjoying my leisure time, to stop myself from thinking negatively, to keep myself open to new encounters and to continue learning from my experiences.
Shukan ST: Sept. 15, 2006
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