Reflections Abroad: Nov.8-Nov. 16

I can’t believe it.  I’m done.

And I’m going home soon.

I still can’t believe it.

November 8, 2015: Finished the Paper

I finished my English paper, which was a blast.  Sadly, even though I finished it on the deadline, I “submitted” it later than I thought because of a simple mistake I made with the submission system.  However, the professor was more than willing to understand.

November 9, 2015: Took the Final, But…

I took my English final.  Yay!

However… Because of my anxiety over the “late submission,” I forgot to do something else important.

November 10, 2015: Did the Presentation

I forgot to set my alarm!

Class started at 8:50.  I woke up at 8:48 AM!

Adrenaline rushed to my feet.  I threw on my clothes, bought a banana at the cafeteria downstairs, and booked it.

Thankfully, none of the presentations has started yet, and I was able to do mine for Japanese class.

Whew.  Close call.

November 11, 2015: Last Day of Japanese Society

And… this Wednesday was the last day of the class I keep raving to you about.

I came to study abroad not to just be in Japan, but to take a class I couldn’t have taken anywhere.

This was that class.  I don’t think I could have taken a class like that anywhere else, and I learned so much about Japan and other societies from it.  I’ve learned to look at Japan society and my own society with a critical eye.  And I’m grateful that I had the chance to take it.

November 12, 2015: Reading Period

Have you ever heard a university that has a “reading period”?

Apparently, the university in Japan I go to does.

And it’s the best.

I know it’s for teachers to read papers and exams and things of that sort, but it’s also great for students who want to catch up on reading for class.  During this period, I got started on my paper for Japanese Society.  It asked writers to make an argument for a topic to cover in more detail or a topic not discussed in the class.

I chose sex and sexuality in Japanese society.

No, really.  You read that right.

I wanted to do something about Japan and socio-linguistics, but the book I wanted to check out from the library was checked out.  So I had to come up with something else.

And that made me go back to a question I had about Japanese society, but never got to explore.  This question: How does Japan view sex and sexuality, compared to the Western-Christian view?

I didn’t answer my question, but I learned a lot about Japan just from checking out books on the topic and leafing through them.  And that, I think, is what an essay should do–make you learn as you write.

November 13, 2015: Filing For Moving Out

I officially filed an application to “move out” of Mitaka, as well as terminate my National Health Insurance on Friday.

Not much to say there, I suppose.  But it does mark the beginning part of leaving.

November 14, 2015: Revised Papers

I subsequently revised both the rough draft of my sociology paper and my Japanese report.  Later that night, I proceeded to watch “Rave Master” (“Groove Adventure Rave” is the Japanese title) in Japanese with my friend, M.

And then I watched what might be a really, really good example of short story structure, and what my friend likes to call “walk-on characters.”

This same friend once told me that one of my skills as a writer is creating vivid “walk-on characters,” characters that aren’t major characters, and aren’t exactly minor characters either.  They can be the nameless waitress who takes your character’s order at a restaurant.  They can be the old man murmuring in a crowd about an impending revolution.

In short, they are characters that make the world real, and make your characters seem like they’re not living in a box.  These characters also have the potential to be used later in a story.

In the twenty-fifth episode of Rave Master, there is a walk-on character, Melodia, that heightens the conflict for another character named Musica, and it’s done really well.  Not to mention there are themes of taking risk, growing up, and saying goodbye to your past.  Even though the show has its silly elements that are a part of the canon, they still work.

Even if you don’t watch anime, I recommend just that episode alone, if you have trouble with creating short fiction or knowing how to use characters that seemingly might not have any value.

November 15-16, 2015: The Last Final

Last night, I studied for my Japanese final, and I think it paid off.   I completed most of the test sections early, and had plenty of time for the harder reading section.

And I think it paid off, because for a long time, I was focused on studying more than what I needed to know for the class.  I wanted to know how to write and read kanji that we only needed to know how to read.  I wanted to be on top of everything.

Which is okay, but… In the end, it’s still a class.  It’s still a game.  I don’t have to overwork myself.

As my mother puts it, I just need to do what the teacher wants, and give it to them.

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