Everyone has a “shelter in place” story. My sister said that we now have all the time in the world to do the things we want to do and we shouldn’t waste it because you can’t use the excuse, “you don’t have time” anymore when now you do have the time. If you don’t do what you want to do, the real reason isn’t that you don’t have time, but rather you were just never motivated, to begin with. I took that to heart because during the first month of my “shelter in place,” I had a set goal.
My goal was to complete my M.A. degree in Comparative Literature. I’ve been lagging on it because I had other responsibilities but now I had no excuse to not complete it. For the past year and a half, I’ve been reading thirty-three books: books that are profound for their impact culturally, politically, economically, socially, and of course, contributed to what we call “world literature.” Four of these texts I read in the original language, Japanese, since Japanese is my area of emphasis. The task looked simple but it really isn’t because Japanese is a difficult language to learn and there are not many comparatists that work with East Asian languages; hence, as to why it took me longer than the “ideal” 2-3 years towards completing this degree. Plus, I included two certificate programs to my degree and I also decided to teach a few courses during graduate school. I did all this to benefit myself and my future (and also, I love academics that much).
And so when this COVID-19 happened, I saw it as a blessing in disguise for me. I used the first month and a half to finish reading all thirty-three books, write two ten-page papers, and then review everything I learned to take a two-hour oral exam with my graduate committee. I stared at a computer from daytime to nighttime and I only went outside just to get groceries. It was kind of a sad way to spend my time when I know everyone else is like watching anime and playing Animal Crossing, but I knew I had to finish it. I won’t get an opportunity like this again, being able to dedicate all my time to just focusing on my oral exam. It was boring, but I knew it would be worth it in the end.
April 24th came along and I was a bit nervous. I tried my best to get a general overview of each text I read as if I were to teach it to college students. I think my greatest fear was being stumped on a question that I didn’t know the answer to. However, after talking to my graduate advisor, he clarified all the concerns and questions I had which made me feel more relaxed about the entire thing. Also, talking to my sister and my friends helped too: they believed in me more than I believed in myself.
When the exam happened, it went by really fast that I didn’t notice the time. After a five minute debrief at the end of the exam, they told me that I passed. 🙂 I was relieved that I passed but at the same time, I was indifferent. This was the end of my MA journey and it ended in the weirdest manner. Past me was relieved that I limped to the finish line. Present me was celebrating with wine. Future me is terrified as to what will come now since the job market doesn’t look so good and we are currently in a crisis that has no definite ending date. The future looks grim to me but I’m taking it day by day. The way I see it is that I’m better off now than I was before with all the education and experiences I received during graduate school.
Right now, I just need to wrap up a few things and then I will be completely finished with my semester. I’ll also apply to jobs despite our current social situation and I’ll go from there. We shall see what kind of cards I drew for my future.
Yet on a more positive note, I have time to blog and watch anime and Asian dramas. If you don’t know already, I started this blog a year before I started graduate school, and so if you were reading this blog around 2015, you have been with me throughout this entire journey. If you’ve seen my earlier work, I was a frequent blogger, but then when I started graduate school, I got busy and couldn’t keep up posting weekly. Now that I have time, I will continue where I left off and begin posting more. Blogging is my happy place and I’m happy that I can return to it.
Even though the world is screwed up at least I accomplished something during my time being locked inside my house. Who else can say that they did their orals exam via Zoom during the Age of Corona? It’s a rare and cool thing to do.
It’s just a spark but it’s enough to keep me going
And when it’s dark out and no one’s around it keeps glowing
Just Something About LynLyn is a member of the WordAds Program. I permitted ads to run on my blog so that I can get paid by cost per impression (CPI). So I would really appreciate it if you turned off your Adblocker on this website so that I can earn some money. With the earnings I make, I will use the funds to create better content for you all, and you will also help me pay off my student loans.