Beyond the Whiteboard: The Other Dream
I found him awake in the middle of the night, just a dark silhouette outlined by the blue glow of the computer. With his jacket on and the heater cranked high, I could see he was sweating profusely. But this was a far better alternative than giving in to the gripping November cold. His eyes were fixated on the screen as he sketched a line using the black tablet on his lap.
“Drawing again? What now?” I asked.
“Stuff like, some new manga you just read?”
“Wait, when did you start drawing again?”
“Three years ago.” He wasn’t even paying attention to me anymore. A small bead of sweat rolled down his cheeks as he continued to sketch.
“Ah. Must be for that local manga artist event you mentioned.”
“So how much do you think you’ll sell?”
He stopped his work. He took a good, long look at me, and then back at the screen, barking a short laugh and shaking his head.
“Nothing. I don’t think anyone’s going to buy my work at all.”
His name’s Angga—a second year student originally from Indonesia, and one of my closest friends and now roommate. Angga is an APM accounting student by day, aspiring manga artist by night. With his sketchbook always in tow, if he has some spare time and a space to work on, he jots down ideas. So no matter when inspiration strikes, he’s able to shelve it until he gets home, where his laptop and tablet await him.
I have to give credit to Angga—he’ll be facing stiff competition at this manga event in Oita. Not only is he a foreigner in a Japanese event, but skill-wise, he’ll be competing with well-known, experienced artists who have been drawing and selling nearly five to six times longer than he has.
Which is probably why he doesn’t think he’ll sell anything. But does that bother him in the slightest? Nope.
There are many others at APU like him, those who are pursuing a passion besides their studies. I’ve seen multiple students trying to be inconspicuous as they sketch away on their laptops and tablets in the cafeteria, or the sports club members practicing hard every day for inter-school competitions. It is quite common for Multicultural Week groups to go far and beyond the call of duty of simply presenting the culture of their country, as they turn an entire event into a full-blown stage festival.
And, myself—I dream of working in a creative industry, be it stage, writing, or otherwise. When I’m not working on my own writing projects, I write Angga’s scripts for him.
So what is the common factor here? Simply put: Just because we came to study in Japan doesn’t mean that we’re going to spend all our time only focused on academics. We all have lives, passions, interests, hobbies beyond this, and there is no better time—or place—to do it than now.
Think about it: At APU, we are studying in one of the world’s most diverse international communities, in a country where tradition and technology advances go hand in hand. There’s an incredible world here for us to thrive in. Shutting off to focus only on books and theories describing the past would waste half of one’s potential being here.
I know nobody is going to dispute the fact that grades are important, especially at a university, but APU is more than just a learning facility. We are here to find—and to realize—our dreams. We are here to experience the world for real. There’s nobody to hold your hand. Go wild. (Within limits, of course. I certainly am not affiliated with or in any way endorsing damaging actions caused by you, etc.) But being an APU student is an opportunity to expand so many different horizons, hence the school’s motto, shape your world.
Work hard at APU? Certainly. But play harder.
“How was the event?” I asked Angga when he came back.
“I actually sold something,” he grinned proudly, grabbing my hands and jumping excitedly.
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