First off, the study abroad program is officially a go. After this semester is over with, I’ll be back at home until mid-March working to save up as much money as possible, then I’ll take off and spend the rest of the year in Japan. Should be awesome, as long as I don’t end up dead in an alley somewhere.

We’re down to the last three weeks of class for the semester. All in all, I think I’ve done a pretty good job keeping my head above water. Earlier on I was sure I’d see a dip in my grades but now I’m not so sure of that. The last round of tests netted scores of 90, 92.5, 93, 95, and 95, in spite of two weeks of reduced sleep, increased stress, and a $1,400 housing bill.

All that’s left to do between now and finals week is to give a 10 minute presentation on Chinese coal mines, write a 5-7 page paper on the changes in Chinese rural life, write a 5-6 page paper on the relationship between pre-modern Chinese and their northern (barbarian) neighbors, and a 3-5 page paper for Japanese class on the aging population of Japan. All the reading is done, so all I need to do is write. In fact, the Power Point for the presentation is already done, I just have to roll into class one morning and talk about it. The Japanese paper is half-done – I had a hard time writing it from scratch in Japanese because I couldn’t get my thoughts together, so I just wrote it in English instead with the intention of translating it afterward. That netted about 1700 words’ worth of material (almost exactly as long as my Valkyria Chronicles review from last spring), so I’m sure I’ll be ok there. The other two papers will be written over Thanksgiving break, which starts after my comp sci lab next Tuesday night.

For me, the benefit of having all the reading done up front is that it makes the actual process of writing the paper an automatic thing. I’ve gotten pretty good at preparing for tests and papers over the last year and a half, and it’s showing with the ease which I was able to crank out the “rough draft” of that Japanese paper in about three hours. I had initially expected to need most of the Thanksgiving break to work on outstanding assignments, but now I’m almost thinking I can get them done Wednesday and then enjoy the long weekend.

As I mentioned before, I’ll be heading back out to San Francisco early next month to take the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test). Unfortunately, this visit will be nowhere near as epic as my first trip back in August – I’ll be flying in on Saturday and leaving Monday morning. The plan is to do whatever studying I need to Saturday night, take the test Sunday, swing by Japantown for a little bit afterward, and then go find something else to do before turning back in.

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