Oberlin Blogs

My Winter Term in Lists

February 2, 2009

Zoe McLaughlin ’11

Since my semester hasn't really started yet, I present you a summary of my Winter Term, instead of a description of my new classes.

Five things I learned because of Winter Term

  1. Not everything is a giant conspiracy.
    Remember all the well-established Japanese people I talked about earlier? There's no evidence that their original intention was to be spies. However, in the years leading up to the war, the concentration of Japanese in strategic places most definitely suggests that their intention was to gather intelligence. So plans change, but they don't necessarily start out menacing.
  2. When you say "Japanese" you don't necessarily mean Japanese.
    A lot of the Japanese soldiers were actually Korean or Taiwanese. They were supposed to be even worse than the Japanese in terms of brutality, because they were trying to prove themselves.
  3. Japan caused Malaysian independence.
    This is like saying Eli Whitney started the American Civil War, but I think (just like Eli Whitney) it's pretty much true. The Occupation got people more involved in organizing themselves and in politics in general.
  4. What happened in China was worse.
    My neighbor says that he can't get worked up about Malaysia because he also knows how China fared while the Japanese were there. This is coming from someone who lived through the Occupation of Malaya.
  5. Race relations are more complicated than one war, one book, or one person can show.
    Groups of people do not act in complete unison. Generalizations can be made about how the different ethnic groups interacted with the Japanese and with each other, but the ultimate question is how the people acted, not the Chinese, or the Indians, or the Malays.

Four fun books I read

  1. The Unknown by K. A. Applegate
    Yes, I still read Animorphs. And I'm proud of it. The series raises good questions about war and morality, even if you didn't notice them as a kid. Plus, this particular book is hysterical. Also, let me take a moment to pimp a radio show covering Animorphs from a college perspective: Animorphs: The Radio Drama, UNCENSORED.
  2. Forever Princess by Meg Cabot
    I read the last Princess Diaries book with some trepidation, since the previous one was definitely not my favorite. However, I came away pleased. Mia's grown up a bit, which was very nice to see.
  3. Soulless by Christopher Golden
    It's about zombies. Need I say more? Well, okay, I will. The zombies talk, and they remember who their loved ones are. So basically the people you know who died are now coming back to eat you.
  4. Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve
    After reading what Garth Nix has to say on the subject, I've grown jaded about re-tellings of Arthurian Legend. This one, however, I quite like. It stripped away all the trimmings of the tale and started from scratch to portray a very reasonable Arthur. It was beautiful.

Three things not a part of my project that I did anyway

  1. Danced in my ballet school's production of The Nutcracker the day I got back from Oberlin.
    I wasn't dancing a big part, by any stretch of the imagination, but my ballet teacher asked me to do what I could and I (foolishly) agreed. Now I'm trying to convince him that I won't be home for the spring performance. I'm losing that argument.
  2. Stayed up for twenty-four hours with a bunch of high schoolers raising money for RISE.
    RISE is like Habitat for Humanity, but on a smaller scale and only for high school-age volunteers. I spent my high school summers volunteering for the program, and since I was in town for one of the fundraisers this year, it seemed appropriate to help out. The idea behind the twenty-four hour long event was to get pledges and then rock for twenty-four hours. I won't say how much rocking I accomplished, but I was awake for twenty-four hours, and that has to count for something.
  3. Celebrated Chinese New Year with my family.
    Last year, Chinese New Year (unfortunately) happened just after Winter Term had come to an end, so I celebrated by attending the Chinese Students' Association's banquet. This year, however, it fell solidly within the span of Winter Term, so I was able to stick around for the festivities. My family didn't do anything too extravagant, but I did get new shoes, and we exchanged oranges with the neighbors. We also had a delicious dinner of steamboat.

Two things I'm going to do next semester

  1. Study more frequently.
    I say this every semester, but with the supremely odd schedule I'm looking at (essentially no classes Mondays and Wednesdays), I plan to make it come true. In theory, studying a little bit all the time should make finals week much less painful.
  2. Update this blog every week.
    Sometimes I get lazy and feel like nothing has actually happened in the past seven days since the last time I wrote, but I refuse to let that stop me! Audience participation is also strongly encouraged. Let me know what you like and what you don't like and what you wish you could be reading.

One thing I didn't have the time for

  1. Reading all the books I wanted to.
    There are always more books, and I keep discovering new ones. Visiting the public library tends to escalate this problem, but I can't keep myself away. Now I'll have to store the list of 'to read' books away, because very little reading outside of classes gets done during the semester, most unfortunately.

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