One of my core interests is learning new things. I have a love for learning and I have a desire to learn as much as I can about the subjects that I am interested in. Sometimes I can spend hours upon hours reading articles on the Internet about various different topics, whether it is about computer science, politics, Japan, Christianity, academia, or something else. Because I have just started a PhD program in computer science, I will need to use my free time much more efficiently, since free time is increasingly becoming a scarcer resource in my life. To avoid wasting my free time, I would like to apply much of it to a few learning pursuits of mine. Below are the things that I would like to focus on learning during my spare time in 2011:
- Aside from my coursework (I plan on taking courses in programming languages, machine learning, and data mining during the rest of this school year, and I still need to decide what to take next year), I also plan on learning more about large-scale storage and data management systems during this year. My PhD advisor has already given me some introductory work to do during the break, which will introduce me to this field and will prepare me for some exciting research work in this area later in the school year.
- I want to develop system administration and computer networking skills. I realize that those skills are very important to have when working in a computer science research lab where we fellow students help maintain the lab's machines.
- I will commit myself to studying Japanese at least one hour per day next year. While my language skills have improved a lot during my stay in Japan from January to August, I still have a lot to learn before I gain fluency. I am currently about halfway done with the book Remembering the Kanji I, which is an excellent way to learn kanji. I should be finished with the book in March 2011. In the meanwhile, I will be studying some of the Japanese grammar books and guides that I've found.
- I also have a large collection of Japanese reading material that I need to, well, actually read. I hope that my technical Japanese improves tremendously once I finish reading my collection of Software Design magazines. (I even have the 20th anniversary edition of Software Design, which contains a DVD containing all of the back editions from 2000 to 2009). I also have a biography of Satoshi Tajiri (the creator of Pokémon), 1Q84 (a bestseller in Japan), a book about an World War II interrogation center near Tracy, CA, a book about Christianity in Japan (more on that later), and some other reading material that I need to get through.
- I also want to buy a Japanese drama DVD box set to help me with my Japanese listening skills. I heard that there is a DVD store in San Francisco's Japantown that sells boxed sets of dramas. I'm going to have to check it out soon. Some of my friends from Japan recommended a drama named 「結婚できない男」, or "The Man that Can't Get Married." I also enjoyed the episode of 「ゲゲゲの女房」 ("Gegege no Nyobo" or "Gegege's Wife"; Gegege is the nickname of a famous manga artist) that I watched this summer. There is also a movie currently in theaters in Japan with the same title; I want to see it once it's out on video.
- I want to be much more serious about studying the Bible. Currently I am doing a cursory read over the Old Testament (I am currently in the middle of Isaiah). Once I finish this initial reading of the Old Testament, I want to start studying the Bible in-depth, in a manner similar to how seminary students or others really serious about understanding the Word. I plan to begin with the first four books of the New Testament and start examining the life and actions of Jesus. I will develop a "plan for action" soon.
- I am very interested in learning more about Christianity in Japan. As mentioned above, I have a book called "Japan's Christianity" 「日本のキリスト教」, written by Yasuo Furuya and published in 2003. It's 282 pages long and is written in Japanese. Since I am not fluent in Japanese, it will take me a while to finish it. However, I am determined to read the book. The book contains a brief history of Christianity in Japan, comparisons between Japan, the United States, and Korea, and many other facets of Christian life in Japan. I will share some of my findings as I progress through this book.
- I am interested about learning about the history of academia. Since I may become a professor once I finish my PhD, I would like to learn more about how academia works and about how it grew and evolved over time.
- I would like to read some biographies or autobiographies of some scientists and mathematicians. I enjoyed reading Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman and What Do You Care What Other People Think, which are both books on Richard Feynman, a prolific and very interesting 20th century physicist.
- I want to learn Korean for a variety of reasons. I know some hangul, but the only words that I know are food-related terms like 김치 and 비빔밥. Hopefully that changes soon!
Hopefully I will be able to commit to this plan this year! I'll keep you all posted!