Saturday, September 5, 2009

School of Rock(ing my educational boat)

So, school has now started here, and after 1 1/2 days, I've already been messed up quite a bit. But first, I might as well have a short bit on my last days of summer.

Well, more like the last month. Anyway, first I went on a week-long vacation with my friend's family at a place called Lake Pymatuning, where I got to do a good bit of swimming, a bit of canoeing, and a lot of nighttime video gaming (yeah, typical me, right?). The best bit about the whole vacation, though, was that my friends and I (more my friends than me) created a raft completely out of 4 foam noodles and black duct tape. What was good about it is that even though it was quite heavy due to all the duct tape, it could actually support one person! It would sink in the water a little bit, but it would be usable as a raft to keep yourself from tiring out treading water, making it a success.

I then came back and went to a moderately new restaurant here in Pittsburgh called Hokkaido, on urging of my friend. I went (with his family, again) to the place, and it's a really large buffet with sushi, hibachi-style stir-fry materials, a nice selection of Chinese food, and a good variety of rice, vegetables, and desserts. For those of you that don't know, Hokkaido is the northernmost island of Japan (just a tiny fun fact about the name). As what most likely is pretty obvious due to my liking of Japanese food (and really all the foods above that I just named), I love the place.

After that I returned to the homes of my parents, gave some gifts that I got in NZ to people in the US (I still have some to give out, trying to meet up with people can be difficult), and got used to my surroundings of Pittsburgh again. I spent most of the rest of the time biking around, going to some of my favorite shops like a place called Frick Park Market, until the day I finally had my hair cut. I still am not 100% used to this new style, hehehe...ANYWAY! The day after the trip to the salon, I got my driver's permit. For those of you NZ readers, the Pennsylvania Learner's Permit is similar to the NZ Learner's Licence. I'm only allowed to drive if there is a fully licensed driver in the front passenger seat, and I have restrictions on when I can drive.

So, that's all the summer things taken care of, now I get to talk about SCHOOL. Now, I could just say what my schedule is, explain all of the information about CAS, PSP, and such, or I could just say that right now I'm confused. I think I'll go with the latter. I had a half day on Thursday where I got to see my first few classes, but I truly started, 7:30 start and all, on Friday.

Now, this one single school day had so many contradictions, for a moment there, I thought I was going to collapse. First, it turns out the school had put me in the WRONG GRADE. Instead of being a senior in 12th grade like I was supposed to, the school (due to them not having processed the Fairfield transcript yet) decided that I didn't take a year of school in the year I was gone, and shoved me into 11th grade. I've pointed out numerous times that I didn't want to have to repeat a year, but luckily for me, this will be taken care of extremely quickly. Second, I'm no longer in the most advanced chorus class. Why is this so much of a problem? Well, I've been in the most advanced class since freshman year, and I don't think I should be moved down because of a year in a different country. It turns out that it leads to the third contradiction, which is Chemistry. Before I'll explain this one, I'll talk about how it leads to it. This will be a bit complicated...

Chorus 4 (the most advanced) takes place 2nd period in the day. Currently, I have Calculus AB AP in 2nd period. That class takes place both at 2nd and at 7th period. However, 7th period is the second period for Chemistry 2 AP, as those science classes need 2 periods (on certain days we have labs in the second period). So I could just simply switch around the chemistry, right? WRONG. The other placement for Chemistry 2 is...2nd and 3rd period, which would clash with Chorus 4.

Thinking about that predicament brings me to my third contradiction: Whether Chemistry 2 is really the class I want to take or not. As I want to go into computer science (eventually leading into video game design), it turns out that physics may be more useful for that than chemistry. However, that leads to its own set of problems. First, I don't know whether the physics periods will cause extreme clashes with my other subjects, as I currently don't know when those classes take place. Second, even though I feel like I learned a good amount of physics in New Zealand, I don't know if the standards are similar between NZ and the US. So I may end up wanting to take Physics 1 instead of Physics 2, but (third problem) my transcript did count for Physics, and taking Physics 1 may not count as taking a 4th science, which I may need to graduate. Yet, if the standards are drastically different, Physics 2 may be too difficult for me to handle.

So now I'm on to the fourth problem, and that is a moderately big one: Languages. I've wanted to learn Japanese for about 11 years, and that dream was cut short when my Japanese teacher at my middle school suddenly got married and moved to Guam (US territory east-southeast of Japan). When I first entered my current high school, they didn't have Japanese. However, they started the Japanese program the year I was in New Zealand. So for my first two years, I took Spanish because that was the only language my middle school had, and I knew more about it than say, French or German. Now that I'm back, I have access to a Japanese program, but as I remember next to none of the Japanese I took at my old school, I would have to go into Japanese 1. I've also started looking at colleges that have Japanese-related things as classes (not as a major, either as a minor or just as normal classes), but I then remembered hearing that to take classes like that in college (I don't know if they meant as a major, or minor, or just classes, or whatnot. This mainly occurred to me as I've been writing), you need 3 years of that language. That means that even if I was in the US in 11th grade when Japanese started, I still wouldn't be able to go into it, possibly. Yet, that's still not the only problem here. Right now, I'm in Spanish 5. I feel that I really don't like Spanish nearly as much as I like Japanese, and I've wanted to take Japanese for so long, so it seems like it'd be an easy choice to make, especially since there would be no class-clashing problems. However, I'm worried about the impression that I make if I go from a class of level 5 to a class of level 1. This is mainly my ridiculous anxiety striking here, but I don't want to appear as someone who just wants to go to a different class because the different class is a lower level, therefore being much easier. Though I'm most likely simply overthinking that.

Finally, we arrive at the final problem. This one encompasses all of the others, and asks, "Am I just going crazy because this is my first time back at this tough school in more than a year?". All of the problems I've thought about all have this question, and with all of the changes I want to make, I am also being held back by this question. Even the problems that seem clear cut have this question arising (I'm quite sure that chemistry is not used in computer programming, yet I still hesitate). And, of course, this is all due to my habit of second-guessing everything, and being a bigger worrywart than Neville Longbottom in the first Harry Potter book. So, naturally, I am trying to find every possible problem with every possible path for me to take, leaving me in the single state that I said at the beginning of this post, which is a state of confusion.

So, that's the end of this post. For those of you in the US, I'll see you guys around. But for my friends in NZ, thanks for continuing to read my annoyingly long posts. And for those NZ friends of mine who are in school right now, whether you're Kiwi, Australian, Japanese, South African, British, German, and just about every nationality that I've met in NZ, I hope you're enjoying, have enjoyed, or will enjoy your mock exams, as I think those are coming up (or have already happened, or are happening). So yeah, thanks for reading, everyone!

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