the never-ending race

I begin every semester with a strong conviction that this semester I am going to get it right. I will not get behind on my work, and I will do work and study as I go so I don’t have to cram right before the exams. I will not skip lectures just because I’m lazy or don’t feel like going, and the same goes for going to office hours. I will be more friendly and get to know more people. I will join things and take initiative. I will keep my apartment impeccably clean and get plenty of sleep. I will spend time with my friends and keep in constant touch with my family and those friends who aren’t at Berkeley.

This is the exact way every semester starts, honestly. And every semester, none of those things happen quite the way I had hoped. I get behind on my work and have to cram for midterms, I lose touch with people, etc. Last semester was an improvement for a few reasons. The most significant one came in the way of my social life; I built/acquired/met a new group of close friends with whom I regularly spent time (and I have pictures to prove it! And that’s not even including my French-class friends and people outside of those two contexts. Last semester was a really great one socially speaking… although perhaps as a result I lost a little academic focus. This isn’t to say that my grades went down because I started to have a more interesting social life. Actually, my grades didn’t really change at all. But naturally once your life acquires a new dimension, the others have to shift in their priority, and what that meant for me was just that I was spending less time and concentrating less on certain classes than I wanted to. Well, no, that’s not true either. Basically, I wasn’t able to put in as much effort in French as I had wanted to. (This will come as a relief to my mommy, who has probably been reading this fearing that my friends made me get that B in English.) But I still got an A+, so it’s not a quantitatively measurable difference. 🙂 But anyway. Last semester was also one of deep academic turmoil because I decided to scrap the English major and change to history. I do believe that my history class last semester taught me the way I ought to study history, which has definitely come in handy this semester.

So here we are in this semester, my fourth at Berkeley and the end of my lower-division years. Five weeks have already passed, and I have a midterm coming up in the sixth. I’m not prepared for it, but I feel a lot more optimistic about this semester… I think this could really be the one where I get it all figured out. I’m only taking classes I need or really like, having finally purged painful English classes from my schedule! I’m free to focus entirely on history, which means tons and tons of reading, but a more uniform manner of studying. And speaking of studying, I haven’t exactly been studying as I go along, but I’m doing my best to be caught up on the reading, and I’m doing an okay job. At the very least, I read enough that I understand exactly what the professor is talking about in lecture, something which used to not happen, sadly enough. And I’m almost caught up the past five weeks, reading-wise. I’ve only got… let’s see… 267 pages left to go. That’s not bad at all. Two hundred sixty-seven pages standing between me and being totally caught up on my reading. (But then I have to study for my midterm and get started on the reading for next week. But being caught up will be an incredibly glorious feeling.)

Besides classes, how I feel about the rest of my life is alternately satisfied and not satisfied. I’m doing better with extracurriculars… I’m going to start tutoring elementary school kids in Oakland, and I’m spending more time at the Emma Goldman Papers and may possibly work there this summer. And I’ve managed to put in a few hours at the music rooms, which will hopefully become a few hours per week as soon as I get caught up on my work, since that’s my first priority right now. So that much is good. What’s not so good is that I haven’t been able to spend as much time with my friends and family as I’ve wanted to, although this is something else I’m hoping I’ll be able to mend as soon as I get caught up on my work.

Usually, I say I’m going to do all these things once I get caught up on my work, but I never get caught up so things don’t ever happen. But it’s a really good feeling this semester, knowing that getting caught up is really an achievable goal, and it’s this good feeling that leads me to think that the rest of my life will soon follow and become manageable.

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at]