New projects and new motivation

The year 2018 is slowly approaching, therefore this post will mostly be a reflection on the year 2017. Another year of life in the Far East, another year full of effort to adapt to life in Japan and still maintain a good GPA.

I was a little dissatisfied last semester, especially with the direction my academic life was heading. It was just my second semester, but I already expected to have my whole university life and future academic plans figured out, which is easier said than done. However, I told myself I’d change that this semester. And so I did.

This fall semester, I am concentrating on finalizing my vision for the next 3 years of university as well as sketching out my plans for graduate study. I successfully applied to a research seminar, which is rumored to be the most strictly selective seminar in my school. But what is a research seminar like? My university emphasizes the importance of research seminars (or kenkyuukai) as much as they can. Compared to regular classes and lectures, seminars are interactive, take place in a smaller group of students, and people are encouraged to really pursue their areas of interest and research independently under the professor’s guidance.

My current goal is to finish my paper on conflict prevention, publish it in an academic journal and present my findings during an international academic conference in Tokyo next year.  I am not writing this paper as an assignment for a class, rather as a personal passion project I’ve been wanting to focus on for a couple months now. This is a very broad topic, therefore I am truly looking forward to writing future papers exploring this issue even deeper.

To conclude, I’d like to briefly tell you about this funny episode from earlier this semester. As a second year student I am now able to work for the university as a student assistant, assisting the professors for instance with preparing for the lessons and similar tasks. One of the professors I am working for now is rather passive when it comes to teaching so I had to help out a bit more than usual, basically teaching the class myself. After the first class of the semester ended, a couple freshmen came up to me with questions, which was all good until this girl complimented me on my teaching style asking me whether I teach any other classes. Well, I’m not sure that’s because I aged visibly in Japan or if the impromptu class I partly involuntarily taught was just so good. I hope it’s the second one.

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