Saturday, February 07, 2009

I am where I belong

I feel like I finally, truly know what I want to do with my life. I want to be a student. Forever.

Getting paid to study Japanese at Kyoto University is the best job I have ever had. I don't want it to end. I love going to class. I love learning new things. I love Japan.

I am doing exactly what I want to be doing. And I am getting paid to do it. It doesn't get much better than that.

Going to school on the government's dime is so much better than working in an office. There are no cubicles. No office politics. No stress. I feel like I'm on vacation.

Yes, I have tests and exams and reports and presentations. Learning Japanese is hard work. But it is a labour of love. I enjoy going to school all day and studying all night.

Learning a new language is good for your brain. It keeps your mind sharp. My brain feels all strong and muscley. Not smart, mind you. Just mentally fit.

The good news is that I can continue studying Japanese at Kyoto University throughout my 18-month scholarship. I thought it was just going to be a six-month language course but my advisor told me I could take higher level classes for free while carrying out my research.

The even better news is that I can extend my scholarship for five years and do a PhD if I want. I don’t have to make up my mind until November so I'm not going to think about it until then. It's tempting to stay in Kyoto indefinitely. It really is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

I could see myself living in an old house in the mountains, drinking green tea and reading Murakami in the original. I'd have a couple of cats and a vegetable garden. I could learn karate and practice catching flies with chopsticks. It would be a good life.

I was never really happy as a journalist -- a job that requires you to be extroverted, confrontational and aggressive. I am none of those things.

What I am is curious. I am interested in absolutely everything (well, except maybe hockey. And cars. And golf.). I suppose my curiosity is what drew me to journalism in the first place. I wanted a job where I could do something different every day. Journalism was good for that. One day I'd be sitting in a courtroom covering a murder trial. The next day I'd be standing in a potato field interviewing drought-stricken farmers.

But I never really wanted a career in journalism or public relations. I just wanted to learn new things. That's all I've ever wanted to do. And I am now getting paid to do exactly that. I finally feel like I am where I belong.

I want to be a student. Forever.

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