Mind-numbing Decisions

At the end of this month, I will hear from the University of Chicago of my acceptance decision and in April, I will know if I am accepted to Northwestern University and Washington University in St.Louis. Then with all of the decisions known, I will have less than a month to decide what college I would like to spend the next four years of my life at.

What a gigantic decision.

I have always been quick at deciding things – what clothes to buy, what classes to take, how and when to study abroad during high school. But this – there is a gut feeling deep within me that tells me that this decision, of where to attend college, will be vastly difficult and thus will take a lot of time and mental energy.

I used to believe that I wanted to become a journalist. I love writing what I observe and communicating using words on paper…and I had the grand idea that I could use both my Japanese and English fluency to create interesting stories, to connect people to people. I still have this dream – but it is not my sole dream anymore. I blame my math and science centered class for that. This is because I realized by taking difficult math and science courses and challenging myself, that I like solving problems and learning the science that surrounds us, and that I was better at doing this than I initially thought.

So it hit me recently that I just want to learn. I want to find out more and more about the world and sponge it all up. I desire to meet all different types of people and travel to all sorts of places and experience all sorts of things – that is what I would like to do these next four years.

I do not want to prepare myself for a specific job – just learn, sponge up, take it all in. I am infinitely curious.

So the question is – where. Where can I be exposed to mind expanding classes and people? Daddy says all undergraduate colleges basically offer the same level of education, especially because of Honor’s colleges and such. So at the end, it all comes down to money.

The three colleges that I am still waiting to hear from mostly offer need-based aid, which I hardly qualify for. So unless (if I get in, of course) they offer me scholarship aid, I do not believe it would be a good idea to attend.

Today I found out that I was chosen as a finalist for Illinois State University’s Presidential Scholarship. This means that I was offered something close to a full ride for all four years. I also probably will be able to get scholarship money for a study abroad. On top of all of this, I will be in the Honor’s College and will be able to take Honor’s classes as well as special course designated for PS Scholars. If I attend ISU, since it is only thirty minutes away from home, I could even live and eat at home while attending, cutting back on my spending even more.

This is all very tempting – but. College is a time when children start to live away from home, when they spread their wings a bit. If I attended ISU and lived at home I am afraid that I might go back to my dependent self. There is crazy need inside of me that would like me to fly far, far away from home. At the same time, however, these months in Tokyo have made me realize just how important my home is to me and that I live more happily surrounded by nature and my family, so there is a pull that roots me back home.

What a difficult decision!

…and in all of this turmoil, I am waiting in anticipation and fear of my last three admission decisions. I try not to care so much about it, but deep down I still have that perfectionist attitude that I do not wish to “fail” at anything. I want so much to be accepted to all six colleges. A few nights ago, I actually had a nightmare that I found out I was not accepted into the University of Chicago and I was so shocked and let down that I started to cry. You cannot imagine the relief that flooded over me when I realized, upon waking, that it was all just a dream…

So, as these days and weeks seem to fly by – I wait in terror and anticipation.

I am now on Spring Break, after completing eleven final tests over a span of four days. The test results were so-so, but I was very proud of my World History, Biology and Modern Japanese scores, since they all have gotten better as the semester went on. In Biology, my teacher told me that my test score put me in the top one-third of the class! My biology teacher was also kind enough to write me a note at the very end of my biology notebook, that said that she appreciated the fact that  I worked very hard this semester and to continue to work hard next school year, when I will have to take Chemistry and Physics. She even gave me a sheet of beautiful Japanese-style stickers. I was so overjoyed that I wrote her a letter back, saying how biology class was truly difficult, since I needed to memorize words upon words of Japanese scientific vocabulary, but that it was enjoyable. I thanked her for her kindness and for her semester of teaching.

I also love my Modern Japanese teacher – a woman in her late twenties – and was quite depressed to hear that she may not be our Modern Japanese class teacher next school year (Japanese school years start in April and end in March), so I wrote her a long letter, as well.

I feel infinitely lucky to have had so many kind, talented teachers here in Japan. Next school year, I plan on taking a calligraphy class – which is quite exciting!

During this month-long Spring Break, I plan on going out with friends to shop and watch movies. I also will go down to Nagoya for two weeks to visit my grandma and family there. 🙂

I feel as if my time here is nearing the end – it will be so difficult to say goodbye to all of the wonderful people I have met during my time here…


  1. James Warden says:

    I had the same three schools to hear from back in 1985! I ended up at the University of Chicago. You are a wonderful writer and I’m sure you will make the best of wherever you end up. My prayers go out to you and everyone in Japan right now.

  2. teresa says:

    Zoe, Are you safe? We are worried. Let us know.
    Aunt Teresa

    1. chasingyume says:

      I am fine! Thanks so much for worrying about me…

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