The subway train is keenly air-conditioned during the months of summer in Japan. Although still the same large number of business men and women ares pushed into the cart by the conductor (who is called a “Pusher”), it is at least 10 degrees lower temperature than my dorm room. So let’s not focus on a bunch of no-facial-expression-exhausted-not-so-young people squishing into each other. Enjoy the limited moments of no sweat on my neck or forehead. I am thinking if there is “Heaven” somewhere, it must be this subway train, where that dry cool air consistently blows my hair. Like in my dorm room, my term papers shouldn’t be blown away mercilessly from the electric fan any more.
In this heavenly comfortable subway train, Hiroko is nervously sitting side by side with me rolling her eyeballs up and down. “Hiroko, calm down. You should be ok,” I try to calm her down without any guarantee why she is ok. Giving some quiz to each other is a last minute cramming for us for Tokyo Teachers’ Examination. Besides Japanese National Elementary School Curriculum in math, literacy, social studies, science, music, PE, arts, and home economies, you have to memorize Educational Japanese and World’s History, Famous Educators and psychologists’ work, Teaching Pedagogy, and current events, if you want to become a teacher in Japan. This is only the screening stage. You don’t have to worry about the interview for a while. Hiroko seems so panicked and overwhelmed now. “It’s too late to worry, Hiroko,” I tell myself in my head. At least I am as relaxed as I am able to focus on the lines in the book and give some questions to her. Since there were so much of memorization, I decided to rely on exclusively the Teaching Exam Monthly Study Journal. Hiroko has been subscribing it for a year, so she should be feeling fine.
My only subscriptions are the June and July issues. I knew these issues right before the exam would provide more meaningful information. So instead of overwhelm myself, I have intensively crammed every item in these two issues from cover to cover, over and over until the magazines looked filthy. A paragraph I am giving Hiroko quizzes is a final memorization. I was perfect last night. I am today, too. Grin. To prepare for the current events, I started subscribing newspapers in my dorm room two months ago. I feel pretty confident what’s going on in the nation, even little bit about the world. In addition to a couple of subscriptions, I was preparing “swimming test” in the second level of exam, just in case, I would pass the first stage. I rounded up some of my friends, including Hiroko, for the college swimming pool every day. We are supposed to have stamina from hours of swimming practices. A study group was held following the swimming and wrapped up with lunch at the popular café in front of the train station.
“Hiroko, this is the only paragraph I memorized. Don’t be silly, you should not think I know everything,” I tell her. “You are right. I think I have studied longer than you did. What you have done is fetch swimming companies,” Hiroko replies. I am not totally pleased about her comment, but I let go. If I ever concern about her is that Hiroko is appeared to be a little bit spacy compare to the other girls, even though, she looks absolutely normal. “Good luck to you. See you after the exam,” I wave good bye to her. “You, too,” she doesn’t make her eye contact with me.
Following the sign, looking right and left, my eyes reach to my exam ID number on the sign outside of the room. “That’s it.” I have nothing to lose whatever happens in this exam. I manage to fill out my name and exam ID number in quite a few blanks of the front page, then, finally open the booklet. I cannot close my mouth for 20 seconds. I am seeing the exact same paragraph that Hiroko and I reviewed in the subway train! I cannot believe my luck. The rest will be a history, I guess. Feeling my heart pumping actively, I take a deep breath, “Well, all of my cleanest oxygen contains good blood cells which directly shoot to my brain! I will be passing this exam.”