Finally, I am done with the comprehensive exams. I did the written exam on International Relations last Thursday. I sat in the first round of exam on my major field, which is Comparative Politics, on February 13th. The IR exam was initially scheduled for February 20th. But following the deadly shooting spree that occurred in my campus (NIU) on February 14th, it was rescheduled as my campus was closed for more than a week.
It will take a few weeks for the result of the exams to come out. If I passed, there would be another exam waiting. The oral exam. This is the process that almost all Ph.D. students in U.S. universities have to follow through (or more aptly, to suffer). So, basically I am not really ‘free’ until I am also done with the oral exam. After that, I will be allowed to write my dissertation proposal. Yet, writing a dissertation from what I heard is also pain in the neck.
Here I am, enjoying my ‘free’ time. Last Thursday, after submitting my answers to the questions of the 8-hour straight written exam, I went directly to a restaurant located near campus and had a large plate of delicious fettuccine with marinara sauce. A few days before the exam, I lost my appetite and hardly ate. So, it’s the payback time…:-)
I then took my family out for a casual dinner at a Chinese restaurant. When we got home, I went to bed early at around 8.30 p.m., another payback time for the many sleepless nights I endured before the exams. It was funny that I suddenly woke up at 2.30 a.m. with my heart pumping fast. As I gathered myself, I chuckled. I thought I fell asleep while I was supposed to study. Obviously the exams traumatized me…:-)
We went to Borders the next day. I wanted to buy some books to be read over the weekend and during the Spring break. But the kids wanted to buy some DVDs. For the sake of the balanced budget principle ( sounds like I am a conservative Republican, padahal sih karena mahasiswa miskin…:-), I returned the books I was already holding back to the shelves (that included “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins, the paperback edition just came out in January; “Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power” by Robert Dallek; “The Witch of Portobello” a novel by Paulo Cuelho; the latest edition of Foreign Policy magazine, and Foreign Affair journal; and the newest edition of the Rolling Stone, the enjoyable music magazine).
I bought the Rolling Stone though. The Rolling Stone run a cover story on Barack Obama. The famous editor of the magazine Jann S. Wenner wrote an endorsement for Barack Obama, calling him a new hope (accessible here: http://www.rollingstone.com
It’s been very interesting for me to witness the U.S presidential election that has been filled with a lot of surprises, inspiring speeches, and smart and also ugly tactical moves by some candidates.
Oh, we also bought the comic of the adventures of Tintin: The Broken Ear (Patung Kuping Belah in the Indonesian edition), The Black Island (Negeri Emas Hitam), and King Ottokar’s Sceptre (Tongkat Raja Otokar). These are for my son, but for sure I don’t mind to read them too. I always love to read Tintin again and again. All in all, the comics kept me pretty busy this weekend..:-)
I also purchased a few songs. My friend Taufiq has intoxicated me with alternative music. I fell in love with bands like Spoon, Pavement, the Shins, the Strokes etc. There is also this band called New Order, which is actually coming from the 80s. I had never heard of this great band until Taufiq sent me one of their songs. One of the New Order’s albums is titled “Power, Lies, and Corruption”. I wonder whether the lead vocalist is Suharto. Perhaps this band was so inspired by the New Order regime in Indonesia, who knows?…:-)
My favorite songs prior to the exams were “Time is Running Out” by Muse and Arkarna’s “So Little Time”. I thought I could never be able to re-read all the readings of my 2.5 years of coursework (Well, it turned out that I was indeed running out of time). That’s why those two songs sounded so true…:-)
Lastly, the lesson from the shooting in my campus that took the lives of six students is this: iPod potentially makes you unaware of your surroundings. I was listening to my iPod as I walked toward Cole Hall, the place where the shooting occurred. When I was about to open the door of Cole Hall, it was kicked open from the inside by students who were rushing out screaming, trying to escape from the gunman. If I did not have my iPod on, I would have heard the gunshots earlier and therefore would not expose myself so close to such a danger.