Barrelled Thoughts #7 – Backs to the Wall

Saturday, August 1, 2009

“When the going gets tough; the tough get going.”

“How are you today?”
“Tired…nothing special.”
“Me, too. Yeah, the usual.”
“Yeah. This is what our lives are going to be like…sigh
“Ha ha, at least we’ll be tired together. We won’t be alone.”
“Ha, we share the good times; we share the bad times.”

With finals literally around the corner, many of us are definitely feeling the heat. I sometimes don’t understand why students in Taiwan have to prepare for finals a year in advance (yes, a year. Sometimes even more).
“But isn’t that the equivalent of preparing for cycle tests something like three weeks prior?” I asked.
“Yep, and that’s what we do,” my friend Ashley tells me.
Dear me. No wonder everyone’s so haywire over here. They’ve got finals and semi-finals and what else? Quarter finals?

The six-line conversation above was one I had with one of my hard-working friends called Annie.
Sometimes, when you’re a student, you have a vague impression of what your goal or aim in life is supposed to be. It usually comes in the form of a specific major or university. But it seems that somewhere along the line of striving for that goal, you stop and think to yourself, how long do I bloody well have to carry on like this?
Actually, it wouldn’t be unusual to say that thoughts similar to that pop up more than once a day amongst most students. When they do pop up, what we usually do is find somebody and go, “Oh, my gosh. I’ve just had an epiphany! I’ve just realised that we’re going to be studying our arses off for about 12 months straight!”
“I thought you already had that ‘vision’ two days ago?” I would say.
“Yeah, yeah, but I mean. I’ve come to a new realisation,” she would shoot back.
“Oh, OK. Well, um. What do you suggest we do about it?”
“I don’t know, I’m just gonna carry on studying.”
Conversations like that take place at least three times a day. But even though we’ve got our backs to the wall, we take comfort in knowing that we’re not alone. We’ve really got nothing to complain about because everyone is going through the same struggle – if you can even call it one. What is studying for finals compared to building a democracy? What is it compared to writing a new bill? Nada.
I guess it’s just a process. Everyone’s got their rite of passage. It couldn’t be more normal, really. I’m just glad I don’t have to go about it by myself, ha ha.

Even though you get people like Annie, Ashley and Claudia, and all those diligent ones in the world. You still get those who are spiritless, ones that just float around all day. Not that they aren’t hard-working, it’s just that they often find themselves very bored, ha ha. I’m talking about the infamous Alex, of course. My fellow South African who’s followed me here from the depths of Bloemfontein! Well, technically, I followed him because he was here before me. Alex always felt like studying was never for him, and a few years ago I would never have understood that concept. Now I understand this, and when people tell me “study’s not for me”, I actually stop and think why children are forced into the education system by their parents. Some say it’s because before you’re there studying, you don’t know you need it. Well, mom and dad, when your child is 19 going on 20, is it still too late for him to make his own decision? Puzzled.

In times like these, I find it good that I have friends on both sides of the Richter scale. It really gives me a well-balanced life-style and I’m so grateful for all the little mishaps around me that keep my life colourful.

Ja, Alex. Kom het ‘n bier met my! JSF.

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