Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: a retrospective

Another year has come and gone, which means that it is prime time for reflection. This past year has been full of ups and downs (what year isn't though?) - but looking back here are my top five memories of 2014!


  • graduating with a Master's degree from the University of Chicago: how can this not stay at the top of my list? Not only was my time at UChicago an amazing academic experience (which forced me to grow as a scholar), but I also had the opportunity to explore the amazing sights of Chicago during my academic down-time. I have so many great memories exploring down town Chicago with two amazing girls that I became very close to during my program. One of the most iconic sights was the Bean - or Cloudgate as it is officially called, but who calls it that anyway? - and I found myself returning to it multiple times along my commute to work.
  • attending a Natsume Soseki conference: I took a PhD seminar course on fascism and Japanese culture which covered political and literary texts from the Meiji, Taisho, and early Showa eras. The professor teaching the course was presenting at a Soseki conference at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor so my friend (who also was in the seminar) and I attended the conference. I absolutely love academic conferences in general because I really enjoy seeing scholars and students present on topics that they are passionate about. Although the focus of the conference was on the works of Soseki, the presenters took their papers in so many varied directions from specific texts (「心」["Kokoro"] was a particularly popular text, as was 満韓ところどころ ["Manchuria and Korea, Here and There"]) to more general social or historical issues. That particular period of world history is part of what I focus on in my own studies so although this was a conference that was technically outside of my discipline, it was fascinating to see how these papers intersected with my own work.
  • working with Trio Upward Bound: during the summer of 2014 I taught English literature to a group of high schoolers who come from low socio-economic backgrounds and who are on track to becoming the first members of their families to attend college - which is such an amazing accomplishment! My boyfriend (who actually has a teaching license) has been a lead teacher in the program for three summers now and since he knew I needed a transitional job he suggested I join the team as well. Education in general, and literacy skills specifically, is a huge passion of mine so I jumped at the opportunity. I have taught elementary school children in the past, but high schoolers are a type of student that I tended to shy away from for some reason. However, these kids were phenomenal. Not only were they always eager to learn and participate in class, they were just all around solid, good kids. It was such a moving experience to work with them and I am hoping to return this coming summer.
  • summer trip up north: another fun event of the summer was tagging along up north with my boyfriend and his family. We were able to spend a lot of time hiking, seeing the sights, and (in my case) taking a lot of gorgeous pictures. It's easy to forget how beautiful and calming nature can be, especially if you tend to stay in urban or suburban areas.
  • attending a music theory conference: I guess that this was the year that I attended conferences outside of my discipline - although I will admit that this particular conference was really, really outside of what I do. I decided to tag along with my friend from undergrad, who is currently finishing up her MA in Music Theory, because my boyfriend and another mutual friend of ours was going to be attending the conference as well. Though I have done a lot of music for the majority of my life (I have played the viola since I was 10 and was in a touring orchestra for four years), I definitely do not do music academically. Hell, my undergraduate viola professor would often try to ask me easy "theory" questions about intervals and I struggled to answer - much to his dismay. Thankfully, my musical background kept me from being wholly lost, but a lot of the talks went right over my head! That being said, it was so much fun to spend time with friends that I hadn't seen for two years.

Overall, 2014 was a great year for me and now I'm eagerly awaiting 2015 and all that it has to offer! Hope everyone has a safe and fun New Year!


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