[Year-End Review] Life Knowledge and Bits (M2 Lian)

The past year had been the fastest year I've ever lived through in my entire quarter century of existence. It was as if every month, there was something new to experience (and there probably was). It was my first year completing all the seasons in temperate countries and I am fortunate enough to experience them in arguably the best places to have done so. My heart feels full from all the blessings reaped from this risk.

The bulk of my coursework for my intensive interdisciplinary program had concluded just last month and I now have the freedom and heavy responsibility to focus on the delivery of my thesis. Of course, just the mere completion of my courses was no easy feat. I made it no easier for me either as I took the initiative to go beyond prescribed curriculum, cross-enrolled in different graduate schools, and go as far as participate in summer exchange. It was hectic, to say the least, but I wouldn't have done it any differently.

I had always enjoyed keeping myself occupied and always on the run, and I believe that past year took its toll on me. Either that, or signs of aging. Although I have no intentions of stopping, I do feel the need to slow down and pace myself as to not overexert too much, too fast. I have already reached the latter half of my 20s and I believe it's high time to look for long-term professions that are conducive to my complexity-loving personality, yet would have the stability and sustainability that a normal desk job could provide.

Learnings Beyond the Classroom
Readings and articles are not all bad, but I felt that the most I have obtained from living in Japan, and eventually exchanging in Europe- are the life skills (such as biking!) I have learned which I could never have gotten by staying at my office job or my country for that matter. Recently I'd sat in some final defense of our program seniors and most non-native international students who had studied countries and cultures aside from Japan were asked, "What's the merit of your studying here? Your demographic is in the . Most of your literature is in English." I couldn't help but find myself trying to fairly justify myself for this same question and I came up with a few answers:

There are plenty of reasons, aside from personal interest.
1. I don't believe an institution is confined to its geographical location. Especially for globally acclaimed universities such as the University of Tokyo, ITASIA studies should encompass even the most remote regions of Asia.
2. I believe it's good research practice to remove yourself from an environment, to maintain objectivity, when doing social studies research; To see things I may not have seen up close. Japan is also a good place to do this because of the stark differences in culture with my choice of audience.

Finished, Not Perfect
Lastly, brushing over essays from my first year of coursework made me self-aware of the concept of "finished, not perfect." It's a dogma wherein one should not spend too much time perfecting the current obra maestra but simply continue working because improvement comes naturally from experience and repetition. Time spent with every single detail might sacrifice the nitty-gritty, or at worst case end up not finishing at all. Another reason is similar to what I had previously mentioned about knowing where to reserve your energy in order to accomplish the more important feat, which in this case is sweet completion.

Until next time,
M2 CASTILLO Lian Sabella