Into the recycle bin

Busy bee, spotted on the way back from the exam.

13 hours into freedom

So, I spent much of the afternoon feeling somewhat lost, before deciding that what was called for was assertiveness. I need to move on. No point in lingering in some in-between state. It’s too easy to comfort oneself with the idea that change takes a long time. It doesn’t. It takes a split second. The time it takes to make the decision.

Thus, I’ve spent the last few hours sorting through four years of handouts, reams of notes, kanji tests, pink essays, green essays and blue essays, and selecting a few choice morsels to keep. Included in my archive for posterity are select examples of all types of homework from the language course over all years, some classic examples of the handouts we were given, and the results of all the essays I handed in for non-language modules. This means that thousands of pages have been reduced to one folder’s worth.

Here’s just some of the work that will be going in the recycle skip in a minute.

my degree

You know what though, I am absolutely staggered how much work we’ve done. The amount of effort that went in to some of those modules (especially in the second year) beggars belief. How did they get me to sign up for all this?!

I’m glad we covered so much though. Not just in terms of language, but history, politics, social issues. I remember when I first went to Japan I didn’t have a clue about any of this stuff. It helps, to know one’s context. Still a lot to learn though, stuff that can only really be picked up by spending several years living there.

It would be nice to be there now really. Having completed the course it kind of feels natural that I go back to Japan and be reunited with *Twinkle*. No such luck though – 3 more months till that (very) happy day!

We Did It! Graduation Ceremony (No.1)

Our teachers will not be able to come to our graduation ceremony at the end of July as they will be in Japan. Not wanting to miss out on such an important occasion, they decided that in our last ever lesson with them, they put on a special Japanese graduation ceremony for us.

This act of kindness really sums up just how caring these teachers are.

Highslide JS

We are the Champions! Out of over 45 people who started this course 4 years ago, we are the 16 that made it to the end. WE ROCK! (Check out my teeth-grin. I’m not sure what I was thinking…)

It was lovely. We sang, we gave mini-speeches, we received graduation certificates. We received words of advice for our future lives. There was laughter, and tears.

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Receiving my graduation certificate

What made it even more memorable was a special guest …live via streaming webcam from Japan- TANAKA SENSEI! Tanaka sensei was much loved by all of us in our first two years, but had to return to Japan a couple of years ago. He’d not used Skype before, but we managed to get through just at the start of class. It was so exciting, such a great surprise!

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Skyping with Tanaka Sensei

Seeing him, and his wife (who also taught us for a time) was a real treat. I think our teachers were just as excited to have the opportunity to see and speak with him, having not seen him since last year.

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Our teachers having enormous fun talking with their ex-colleague Tanaka sensei, much missed by both students and staff

There’s more photos of our ceremony on Facebook.

We have one more class left on this course, tomorrow afternoon. Then that’s it. Just the exam.

I can’t quite get my head round the idea that we’ve finished, and that we’re all going our separate ways. I’ve not really thought about it. Until now. I’m not so sad about leaving the teachers, because I know that I’ll continue to keep in touch with them, and see them when they come to Japan or I visit Sheffield. I’ll probably spend much of my summer in Sheffield in any case, so it really is a while until that goodbye.

But with my classmates, it’s different. The chances are that I won’t see some of them again, and that really upsets me; I can’t help but shed a few tears thinking about that. They’ve been such a huge support over the past few years. Whilst I don’t often socialise with them, they mean an awful lot to me. It’s been so difficult at times, but together we got there.

In our little graduation speeches, quite a few of us mentioned the importance of our friendships. Another recurring theme was that of persevering, of battling on through the tough times. By doing so, you can conquer the most difficult of challenges.

The photo above of all (but one) of us carries with it enormous meaning, and is one that I shall really treasure.

We’ve really done something incredible here. Well done us.

Dissertation Done and Dusted

Yay! I am Happy. Very happy (and very tired!).

It’s been a 14 hour day in the library, but we got there. I’m pretty pleased with it as I’ve been able to keep my 3000 word history – well, at least for the version that I’ll have bound for myself. The department will get the 8,200 word abridged version!

Caw blimey it’s over. Only one translation and a three hour exam between me and graduation.

Thanks so much to mum and dad who have put in a lot of time to proofread it over the past few days. Much appreciated.And thanks to my supervisors too, couldn’t have done it without you 🙂

Bed time for me now. I actually have a DAY OFF tomorrow!

🙂

The shouting lady


I spent much of today in the library, hammering my dissertation into shape. We’re getting there. All but the conclusion written.

This week, the weather has been just beautiful. Real warm sunny days, no need for jumpers or jackets. This brings me such enormous pleasure. It’s been a very long winter, and I was getting to be truly tired of cold mornings.

Pondersa Park on a Sunday at 7am is a beautiful place to be. Arriving there this morning I was struck by the peace. Here I was in the centre of Sheffield, but close my eyes and I could easily have been deep in a Siberian forest. All I could hear was birdsong (and beautiful birdsong at that). I stood there for a while and soaked it up – country bumpkin that I am it was like having my batteries recharged.

Just as I was about to fall into a trance, I was suddenly dragged back into reality by the sound of shouting. I opened my eyes. At the other side of the field I could make out a woman in bright white trousers and a black top. She was walking briskly towards me. Shouting. At first I couldn’t catch what she was saying, then I realised that there was a good reason for that – she was shouting in Chinese. She continued to shout in Chinese as she crossed the field heading in my direction …then walked straight past me. She showed no acknowledgement of my being there. Just carried on looking straight ahead, shouting.

She seemed quite happy in her shouting though.


I got a little upset with *Twinkle* this afternoon. I’m not sure where it came from. She hadn’t said anything that might have provoked me. I think it came about as a result of pressure that’s been building up, anxiety over our post-wedding plans, or more precisely, the lack of plans. With finances extremely tight and my being unable to work immidiately following my return to Japan (it will take a little while to exchange the tourist visa I’ll be flying on for a spouse visa), I’ve been wondering whether I shouldn’t stay in the UK for a little while after our wedding in order that I can save some money. But that doesn’t really seem right. It goes against the spirit of a new marriage.

Thinking on our brief email conversation, I realised that the time had come to make a decision. I’d been waiting for some kind of sign, and this was it.

I called the magic number, and 20 minutes later has a small loan arranged, to be paid back once I start work. This means that I can fly the same day as *Twinkle* – Sunday July 27th 2008, and thus I should be able to start work sometime in late August / early September. I’ll call the embassy in the morning to check the details.
I am extremely grateful to the people who are helping me out here, thank you.


Tomorrow sees the start of my penultimate week of classes. The end isn’t in sight yet though. Lots to do between now and my final exam. (All this endingness has had me looking back at beginnings. I can’t believe I was in women’s clothing only a month after my arrival in Sheffield).

ttfn

IBL Staff-Student Symposium

Full day of work today, from 8.30am to 4.30pm. I say ‘work’, but it was more like hanging out with friends. CILASS friends.

Today was the 2nd CILASS Inquiry Based Learning Staff-Student Symposium. Some people may remember me talking about giving a presentation via Skype from Tokyo at last year’s event – well, this time around I was able to eat the free lunch as well.

I won’t go into details here as I’ll be blogging about it on the CILASS blog and will link to it. But I would like to share a few photos of the day.

Student Ambassadors modelling sexy CILASS T-Shirts


Got to the IC at 8.30am to blow up helium balloons with Barbara – that was FUN!

Laura, student ambassador co-ordinator and all-round wonderwoman was also on the scene to wake us with that smile of hers

Next, I moved to my station in CILASS 3, armed with Macbook and a VAIO to co-ordinate live blogging (limited success, I wasn’t forthright enough) and the uploading of photos taken at the event – the idea was to see how quickly I could get photos from the symposium sessions onto flickr & tagged in order that they automatically display on all the screens in the place (its things like this that give me insane amounts of pleasure). Got about 250 photos up by the end of the day.

It was whilst sorting out the tags and things that Barbara and I came up with a stunning idea, inspired by thinking of those tourist spots where you stick your head through the holes in the big wooden signboards and have your photo taken so it’s your face with some famous person’s body. Well take that concept, and cross it with Disneyland, and throw in some tools for Inquiry Based Learning, thus creating an ‘IBL Land’ – albeit a bit smaller (i.e. as small as the glass-walled CILASS 1, which is about 2 metres by 3 metres in size).

Yes, this was a fantastic idea! We kitted out the room with an assortment of Sony VAIOs, Toshiba Tablet PCs, a white board and a big collection of impressive-looking books from the nearby shelves, all promoting the theme of Inquiry Based Learning.

Then, we put a sign up outside: “Come and get your IBL Photo taken here today!”

Students, “Doing IBL”

At one point I was dared to ask the Pro-Vice Chancellor (who was visiting for prize-giving) to come and have his photo taken in our IBL land – I did – and got the shot (although not realising how silly I am he was a little bemused at first).

Speaking of the Pro-Vice Chancellor and prize giving: I mentioned the other day that myself and my classmates had successfully nominated our tutor for a £2000 prize in recognition of all her amazing work in promoting IBL – today was the day that she was to accept the award. However, at the last minute, I realised that she wasn’t there …I gave her a call, and was told that she couldn’t make it because she was in class – would I accept it on her behalf?

Later on, I presented her with the big bunch of flowers and award certificate: no doubt receiving them from me was almost as exciting for her as receiving them from the Pro-Vice Chancellor!

I’m so happy that she won. She really deserves it. In a way, I like to think of it as a thank you from all of us in our final year for all the work she’s put in these last few years to teach us Japanese. (She’s so modest though. When I took the flowers to her office it turned out that two of her closet colleagues didn’t even know about it!).


I’m comforted though in knowing that it isn’t really the ‘end’ of any relationships. If I Look back over the past 12 years at the various places I’ve lived and the stages I’ve been through, all of those places and stages are still very much a part of my life, In this era of email, Skype & online social networks, it’s not easy to lose contact. Classmates, CILASS colleagues, tutors & other friends – all these people won’t suddenly dissapear from my life the moment I leave uni.

In a way, with regards to my language teachers this could be thought of as just the beginning. As my language develops during my time in Japan, so I’ll be more inclined to contact them. That was one thing I enjoyed towards the end of last year, ‘calling home’ to Sheffield from Tokyo several times to catch up on the latest departmental news.

Ho hum.

I have about 13 days to finish my dissertation. I’ll spend much of this weekend offline writing that. If you’ve sent me an email recently, thank you, I’ll be in touch. Have a bit of a backlog at the mo.

night night xxx