I sat on a silver Honda Civic, my friend in the driver’s seat. It was a gloomy Winter morning and we were travelling home to Markham from Waterloo, as we have just finished the Winter semester. The atmosphere in the car was wafted with grief and devastation. We were silent. It is a general belief that if you take an online course during your spring term, your summer holiday will be ruined. We both understood that we will not be enjoying our holiday. Yes, we took ENGL 109. I shivered from the fact that we both enrolled into spring term ENGL 109, and I shivered because I was aware I have made the worst choice in my entire life, but what else could I do. I tried to focus on the short holiday we had before the spring term begins, but it was futile. The flashing lights of the cars on the highway triggered another miserable memory, and this one was not fun as well. It was also the end of a Winter term, we have been studying for 1 year. It was only the start of our university life, things were too comfortable. So comfortable, we did not think before we pressed the enroll button on the University of Waterloo quest page. Weeks after the enrollment, there was a popup on our learning, and I blinked against the flashing lights of the cars and focused on the challenge ahead of us. After rechecking with my advisor, it was confirmed that we needed one more course in order to graduate. We did not talk, and I turned up the music player to change the mood.
The memory of me turning up the music player brought me back to my morning and Afroman rapping “Wait a minute, you know what’s fuxxed up”. I exhaled, and tear escaped from my eyes. I certainly did. I stared at the assignments due, downloaded the necessary files, pulled them onto my desktop, and started working without a thought about having fun, or enjoying the spring break until two months ago when I thought my university life was finally coming to an end. Months before my expected graduation, I planned a graduation trip with my friends. Since the email from the academic advisor, I have had trouble eliminating it from my memory. It haunts me everywhere I go. But I have had mornings like this one, trying to forget about an online course during the spring term, yet I turn up the music player, and there it is, my assignments and deadlines.
If only I could have had the choice a year ago, when I still had the chance to make a course override, but the academic advisor ignored my email, resulting in the lack of credits to graduate in my last year. The first class I tried to enroll was a CS course, I have taken so many CS courses, partly because of course requirements, partly because of interest, I was confident I could finish the course without going through any of the course materials, and possibly ace it too. But no, I realized that the course was full, there was no more space for my enrollment. There was also the famous AFM 200, which everyone would consider a bird course, more so when my friends could provide me all answers from previous years. Worst of all, AFM was also full. At that point I knew I was screwed, I searched for ENGL 109, stared at the screen. My friend also stared at the screen shaking his head, I shook my head, and pressed on the next button. “NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”, he said. “Yes……”, I said.
“Ring, ring”, I wondered why my mom called me so early in the morning. “Yes, I am on my way home.”, I said answering the phone. What was wrong, did my mom found out that I took a course for spring term? I had never been asked to go home and discuss things. “My mom just called me to get home as soon as possible.” Trying not to show my nervousness, the words came out unexpectedly fast. “Let me know what you mom has to say”, my friend said. “Sure” was all I could say before we went back into silent and misery. My mom was already home, waiting for me. “What have you done?”, my mom repeated several times before I could think of a reasonable explanation. “I had no choice.” I squeaked, “Sit down.”
Sitting down was just about unbearable. She had no expressions at all. “Did she actually find out what was going on?” No, impossible! Who would have told her? How did she find out that I took a course in the Spring term? Waiting with uncertainty was the most difficult thing to do. “Your brother told me you took ENGL 109 in the spring term.” I dropped my bag, there in the living room was the last word I expected to hear spoken. He betrayed me. “Why would you take a course in the spring term, did you forget what happened what happened 3 years ago?” She pointed out how I missed my first “normal” summer because of accidentally taking an online course. “The whole family will be going on vacation to Japan, but you will be staying here.” She said before leaving me alone in the living room. I knew it, I knew I was going to miss another family trip. I was also going to miss the graduation trip. What was I going to tell my friends? They needed me, I could not leave them, I was the person who planned everything. The time in my room was unbearable. ENGL 109, the words were repeating over and over in my mind. Skype was ringing, I turned on the video group call. My friends could tell by the look in my eyes something was bad. I said, “ENGL 109, I took ENGL 109.” I said in-between sobs. They invited me into the League of Legends flex game and told me it was going to be alright. I liked hearing those words even though I knew it was not true. That dreaded word ENGL 109 was so terrifying, we played a horrible flex game and lost. We have been told how ENGL 109 could destroy your spring term holiday, how it could destroy your life, but we had to find out what it actually meant.
Researching online is better than believing what the syllabus tells you. During the research, every sight that popped up revealed the same thing “A lot of work”. OneClass, Reddit, RateYourProfessors, all of them said the exact same thing. The course I was enrolled in was a nightmare. I turned the computer off and looked at the calendar with tears in my eyes, “I want my holiday back.” The coming two weeks was a roller coaster ride, one second I was up and the next second I was down. All my friends were waiting on the ground looking at me, telling me to keep my eyes open, the ride will be over soon, when all I wished was to keep my eyes closed until everything was over.
Monday, May 13, 2019 11:55 PM. I was panicking, I was nervous. The first deadline of the first assignment of ENGL 109. I have been sitting in front of the computer for 3 hours. Staring at the assignment, clueless, helpless. I cannot stand it anymore. I pressed on the keyboard, typed. Five minutes and it looked great, it was finally over. I finished the 140-character memoir.
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