“Meri Kurisumasu” from Japan!

If you’re looking forward to winter and you live in Japan, this year’s winter will be a disappointing one. It’s the middle of November, people are decorating the streets with Christmassy trinkets, many are already standing in lines for the “traditional” Christmas KFC buckets (Christmas is not a traditionally Japanese holiday unlike the New Year’s, so people go to school or work as usual), almost every shop is selling something Christmas-related, but there is sight of snow anywhere. Not only is there no snow or freezing temperatures, but people are walking around in t-shirts, and cherry trees and many flowers are still blooming in the parks around my apartment, which doesn’t really add to the Christmas cheer.

Besides interesting weather, I’ve been having another interesting semester. I’m set on two things this semester - improving my academic and professional Japanese, and finalizing my internship plans for 2019. My spoken Japanese is more or less fluent at this point but I still find myself struggling with things like writing longer reports or essays on more academic topics, and since I wish to actively partake in my university’s Japanese-only classes I definitely need to improve that part of my linguistic facilities. That is why I am currently undergoing an intensive, 4 times a week Japanese class, and I am also planning to take another level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) to test out my progress this December. To further challenge myself I am also taking a Japanese-only class this semester on policy making process and I will be required to write a thesis and take an exam at the end of this semester from this course - a feat I am starting to dread already. Nonetheless, I am excited to see the progress I will hopefully experience after all these personal challenges.
My second goal for this semester has been to finalize my plans for 2019 internship activities. I will work as an intern for the Czech Embassy in Tokyo from early on next year, and I am also applying to several other embassies, think tanks and governmental and non-governmental organizations. Slowly but surely, I am also starting to plan ahead for the beginning of the application period for the graduate school I am planning to enter after graduating from Keio University.
I also received great news recently. The study I co-wrote about strategic alliances between large companies and new ICT ventures or startups in Japan and South Korea has been published! I presented the research’s progress in June this year at the Society for Advancement of Socio Economics (SASE) conference in Kyoto, Japan this year and the study is now available through Google Scholar among other platforms. It’s really satisfying to see the fruits of my work and this serves as great motivation for working even harder from now on.
But as always, I am trying to balance work and fun to some degree and I will participate in my second ever Kendo (Japanese martial sport) tournament this November. However, since my academic endeavors kept me quite busy this semester, I have only been able to attend one practice of my University Kendo Club so I do not expect the greatest results of that tournament. But hey, it’s the thought that counts right?

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