By Kazuya Muto
I don't want to say I'm busy, because people who say they're busy are often the people who aren't all that busy — at least, they're less busy than the people who really are. Having said that though, I am seriously, seriously busy.
My finals are coming up and I have to prepare — that's four exams over three consecutive days. My lecturers have said, "Just read the textbook carefully and you'll be fine. You'll pass." But the textbooks are all so enormous. The accounting textbook alone is more than 700 pages.
Let me get one thing straight here: These exams are tough — not just for the foreign students but also for the Australian students. Everyone is studying desperately. My housemate, Ling, she was studying until about three or four in the morning, and then she went to university around eight.
So these days, my life is one of frantic study and nerve-racking stress. Even my dreams have started to be about accounting. "Not debit! Should be credit!" I shout in my sleep. What's more, the more I study, the less time I have to meet other people. My textbook is fast becoming my best (and only) friend.
There's this lecturer at university whose name is David. He's a teacher at the language school and he's very friendly, so I went to visit him, just to take my mind off work.
David welcomed me with a smile. He asked me what I'd been doing, and I told him how busy I was. Immediately he responded by asking: "Do you know about the Melbourne Cup?" I shook my head. "It's the biggest horserace in Australia. Why don't we watch it together? It'll only take 20 or 30 minutes."
"Hang on," I thought. "Didn't I just tell him I was extremely busy? And now he's inviting me to watch horseracing. Am I missing something?"
But I couldn't say no, and so I followed him to another room, and when he opened the door, I couldn't believe my eyes. There was a party going on there. Everyone in the room was bubbling with excitement and chatting about which horse they thought would win.
David introduced me to the others. They were all staff at the language school, which was on holiday. "This is Kazu," David said. "He's from Japan." One of the women said, "Japan? You know there's a Japanese horse running today. I'm betting on it." Some of the guys quizzed me about training horses in Japan, but I couldn't answer them.
Then the race started, and everyone was suddenly yelling. They just went wild! I felt their energy and tried yelling too, although I wasn't nearly as good as they were. Then an amazing thing happened. Two Japanese horses came first and second! I couldn't believe it. There were shrieks of joy from the people who'd betted on the horse that came first. The woman I'd spoken to earlier came and hugged me.
Suddenly it occurred to me: "Hey, I'm communicating in English." These days I've almost forgotten the feeling because I've been too wrapped up in my textbooks. This is strange, especially because communicating with others is the reason why I'm here, it's the reason why I enjoy studying English. I feel a little like I've become sidetracked by my workload. Thanks, David, for making me realize this.
Shukan ST: Dec. 1, 2006
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