It’s been another fabulous day. I’ve been having a mild case of culture shock, having not really been here for 7 weeks, but I think now I’ve got my room tidied and all last semester’s work filed away in my archive, all’s good. Oh, hoovering helped clear my mind too, as did reporting the faulty light in the loo.

It began then at about 7am, when I woke to read through my post-it notes. I used the post-it note revision technique in my first year with “Understanding Japan”. It worked wonders! Essentially, when reading text books, I write the key facts on individual post it notes. These are then stuck to the wall by the bed / desk for rearrangement and review later. You should have seem me last night in the library with my post-its everywhere – certainly got a few strange looks. I grouped them into categores, and then went through them all: first population (sub-divided into birth / death / migration etc) then environment (pollution / law / energy etc). The advantage with the post-it method if that you can easily combine several texts without constantly having to shuffle through sheets of A4. Also, if you are like me and often associate memories with specific locations in your field of vision, this works wonderfully.

The exam went better than I expected. I know I really mucked one of the three questions up, as it was essentially a re-write of the essay that I submitted last week and got back today after the exam! This particular lecturer is (by his own admission) a very harsh marker. I got 61% (a 2:1). I can live with that.

So, in summary, exams went very well.

After collecting my essay results it was back home for a quick bite to eat, then out to the Info Commons for a CILASS tech group meeting. We’ve been given a very tricky project this semester which I’ll tell you more about at a later date. It’s going to be a great challenge… We’ll also be holding more technology sessions for university staff. After managing to teach mum how to video conference today I feel there’s even hope for some of our more senior professors!

Following that I had another meeting to discuss this photography job. Apparently the design company doesn’t actually realise that I’m not really a pro – this is one of those life chances, I can feel it!

This evening I’ve been working through a huge backlog of stuff that I’ve just not had time to do over the ‘holidays’. Now is the first time since last September that I’ve not actually been under pressure to prepare for something. Oh, apart from my interview on Tuesday… I was talking to the staff member who used to sit on that interview panel – he’s delighted that so many of us Sheffieldians have got an interview – let’s hope several if not all of us make it through.

I received an email today from a member of uni staff who tells me that they’d like to put me forward for an award, a medal, to recognise extra-curricular activities (that’s in addition to the Sheffield Graduate Award which I’m doing anyway). I must admit I was surprised and delighted, and very grateful to even be considered. I told them I’d get a list together of things that they might want to include. It turned out to be a bit longer than anticipated: since starting uni in 2004 I’ve initiated / been heavily involved in 45 non-academic uni-related projects!

You may recall last year my wondering whether I should continue to be involved in extra-curricular activities. Well, there’s not a shadow of doubt in my mind now – whilst the degree has of course been wonderful and its value should not be underestimated (it’s not over yet Joseph!), these other projects have really enriched my time here, and made it so worthwhile. I really have loved university, it’s come along just at the right time, allowing me to put to use all the ‘stuff’ I’ve picked up over time. And allowing me to meet *Twinkle*, who I think we need a photo of.

Here she is under a railway bridge in the Peak District.

Caw, I get to marry her later this year!

Going through that list of projects tonight, and thinking about all the wonderful people who’ve made it happen for me, I can’t help but feel incredibly happy, and grateful. It really does fill my chest with joy, brings a smile to my face and tears to my eyes to think about all the good that is done here at university by so many people. What a great place Sheffield is! …And in many ways, that has nothing to do with my degree.

Anyhow, I have to be up at 8am to have my mane cut in preparation for the interview. I realised tonight when trying to find a barber, that I’ve never had my haircut in Sheffield. In fact, I’ve not had my hair cut in the UK for about 3 years, choosing instead to shave it all off now and then.

But at the moment, I like hair, so I’ll just have a trim.

Oyasumi xxx