It’s midnight and Neni still hasn’t started studying. She figured she’d be done with the chores by ten, but she didn’t finish until eleven. Then, she needed to shower and wash her hair. She needs to study for three hours to finish all of her homework and prepare for her precalculus test. She goes to the kitchen and makes herself a cup of instant coffee. With two cups, she can stay up until dawn.
Neni works hard at her studies, which she knows his necessary to help her realize her dream, while she has the additional responsibility of maintaining a comfortable home for Jende and Liomi. This occupies her so much that she barely has time, it seems, to squeeze in personal hygiene.
Two other students in Neni’s precalculus class had formed a study group and invited others to join, but she didn’t reply to their emails. She likes studying alone. Besides, she doesn’t think there’s much to gain from being in a study group. She joined one earlier in the semester for her Introduction to Statistics class and was appalled when, barely thirty minutes into their study session in the students’ lounge, one of the members suggested taking a break to order Chinese food. When the others agreed, Neni felt that she had no choice but to spend ten dollars that she didn’t want to spend on moo shu pork. They then spent an hour eating and chatting about who they thought would win on American Idol. Neni thought that maybe they could afford to lose an hour of study time, but she couldn’t.
Neni views the members of the study group as having the privilege to be more frivolous with their time and money. She can’t be so careless, due to having the additional responsibilities of working and caring for her family. She also can’t spend money as freely because her family remains poor, despite their improved circumstances. Their discussion about American Idol seems especially wasteful. However, it merely demonstrates that Neni faces greater pressures than her classmates, who are younger and have fewer pressing responsibilities.
Around three-thirty in the morning, Neni goes to the kitchen for another cup of coffee. She takes a sip and then closes her eyes, enjoying the moment of stillness. Usually, her mind is always active with planning her next step. Life in America has turned her into someone who’s always thinking and planning for the next thing. She decides that she’s studied enough. She’ll do some practice problems on Sunday, and more the night before the test. On test day, she’ll be ready.
The late night coffee break gives Neni rare time to spend with herself because Jende and Liomi are asleep. She has time to think about what she would like to do next with her life and not only about what her family needs. Life in America encourages her to think for herself and about herself, which makes her more confident when facing challenges.