Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 2

To climb to the top of the hill of academia, there are many obstacles to deal with. These obstacles are not like awesome and cool characters like the dragons and vicious witches that you find in fairy-tales. The first obstacle for me to confront is called Tests, or to be more precise; The International English language Testing System. To be accepted at a Uk university, I must obtain an overall score of 6.5 out of 9.0, with a minimum of 6.0 in each component; reading, writing, listening and speaking. It doesn’t sound gentle like a gentle stroll in the forest, does it? And there will be no prince on a white horse come and rescue me from the coldhearted examiners. I won’t have any angels on my shoulder, either, to whisper all the answers into my ear.

The bitter reality is just page after page of a textbook to read and answer. The best resistance I can make is to glare at the textbook sitting on my desk in the corner of the kitchen, groaning, “How dare you TEST me, you bloody pieces of paper?” Pathetic indeed. And just imagining the depressingly tense and awkward air of the examination room and the nerve- wracking faces of the examiners drives my delusional mind crazy Don’t you wish they could be a little friendlier, and that air could be lighter? How can a human being with an average capacity of endurance confront such a massive stress?

Some IELTS candidates may believe “Practice makes perfect.” Some may hope for a supernatural power to save them. Some radical thinkers may opt for the superstitious belief that eating all the test pages will help to retain all the information on them. Well, I’m a romantic yet mediocre, everyday person, with faith in the good ol’ saying “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”
I don’t have an brilliant brain but I’ve got a brilliant team of cheerleaders on my side. They talk, walk and kick my butt on demand. They ain’t ordinary cheerleaders with microskirts and pompoms, though. Some have got big geeky glasses on. Some have the most sarcastic mouth on the planet. And the most enthusiastic one of all is my most intimidating critic, who gives me the best rolling eyes you could ever imagine. She is often called a daughter of mine. Yet both of us hardly believe the fact. We are the most role-reversed mom and daughter ever. I‘m often en-skewered by her sharp tongue than encouraged by it but she and all my other cheerleaders are on my side, always ready to get on the emotional rollercoaster with me.

In my cross-cultural communication class at university, the professor said, “The most valuable asset you can possibly have for your life is a friendship, that is non-judgmental to who you are, and that brings out the best of you. It is based on mutual respect and extreme enthusiasm to get to know each other. Such a friendship would last forever, enriching and fulfilling your precious life.” He was one of the coolest educators I have encountered. He was one of those little miracles that you sometimes have the good fortune to meet in the world of academia where power-hungry villains rule.

I used to hate those teachers, disguised behind their “ organically good man” masks and their biased moral speeches. I didn’t find any morality in mentally bruising children with their intentionally brutal comments like “I’m completely disappointed with your work. You are nothing but a trouble, aren’t you?” Oh, well, they may have tried to kill my curious nature in order to have a perfect and easy control of their classrooms, but they completely failed to achieve their goal. I’m still here, still climbing on the ladder of wisdom, still full of curiosity and I still have the deepest pity for them. I’ve realized that many teachers are also victims of a serious disease, called “Toxic Teacher Syndrome”.

I hope to show them how that little cheeky brat, who used to sit in the corner of their classroom with so much attitude has everything it takes to become a theoretical researcher in the academic field.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Day 1

2011 has started with a bang. Perhaps I will never forget this year. It
marks the end of one long journey and the beginning of a new journey towards a
Master's degree.

I'm a single mom, just graduated from a Japanese university. When I say
just, I mean yesterday: 25 March 2011. But I'm not one of those young and
beautiful teenage moms. I'm in my 40s. There are those who might think that
this puts me way past my prime. You need to look at me carefully: I imagine
that all my external signs of beauty have become internal now.

Graduating with a pretty awesome GPA of 3.65 was way harder than I had
expected. It was quite a bumpy ride. But I have somehow managed to do so,
thanks to the great support from friends and family. I'm so grateful for the
strength they gave me by being my cheer leaders. My daughter, Momo, my
11-year-old little philosopher, is the best cheer leader of all. And she is the
biggest motivation for me to continue with my uphill academic adventure.

This year, my plan is to score high enough in the International English
Language Testing System (IELTS) test to be accepted into a Master's degree
program at a British university. Next spring, I hope to enrol in a distance
learning course in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
for Young Learners at Aston University in the UK.

Only 4 years ago, this would have appeared to be just a unrealistic dream.
But achieving a good GPA as an undergraduate student has made me realize
that I have the possibility of reaching my goal. M.A. Mama is what I'd love
to be. Of course it is to satisfy my intellectual curiosity, but it is also
to bring stability to my daughter's life. And perhaps it is the best way I
can show her how to live her life fully under any circumstances.

Especially now, when my country is in crisis after Japan's biggest
earthquake on March 11th. This is the best time to begin this journey to M.A. Mama.
My Motto is Carpe Diem. Going through so much ups and downs and
life-threatening experiences as well as the birth of my daughter has made me live with
more appreciation and excitement.

Today, this is my status: a single mom, with no partner, no well-paying job
and no promising future. All that I have got is a hopeful song in my head,
so bright and catchy that it light up my eyes.

Today, I set out on my journey!