After a busy day at school, I've just wrapped up my homework. It's 11.30pm. I should really be in bed about an hour ago, since light goes from about 6am-6pm in Japan, but it seems increasingly rare that I'm able to do that.
Having started trying to catch up on my vocabulary backlog, I'm finding myself very short on time. Normally, this would be because I'm squandering it frivolously, but I can't particularly find that I'm doing that at the moment. There's certainly a bit of time spent reading the news, writing emails and the odd blogpost, but not much else. Occasional running. I haven't touched a game in the last week. To my irritation, I've barely touched a book this week either, aside from my textbook. Podcasts, certainly, but those are a "while" activity - while commuting, while walking to school, while washing up. I went for a meal with some classmates once.
From what I can work out, I'm just spending a large proportion of my time and energy on, well, studying. There's four hours of lessons, which works out at somewhere around five hours most of the time due to lunch breaks (enough time get and eat food, but not much else). Sometimes I have additional activities, like bilingual conversation or cultural outings. Vocabulary practice and homework takes a little over an hour, according to what Anki (my vocabulary-training software) records, but that's misleading. Lots of mini-breaks are necessary when you're working through a couple of hundred items of vocabulary, so I generally read an article or something, but it's not really usable time. New vocabulary cards need making, which is surprisingly time-consuming, but worthwhile. I'd say I spend maybe two hours a day on the whole vocabulary-learning process.
Today, for example, I spent a fair chunk of the morning studying in a cafe, then came back home to cook before afternoon school. I finished school at 6pm, was back around 7.15, put the tea on, washed up and studied vocabulary. I ate around 8.30. Then I studied a bit more, went for a walk, came back, read an article and wrote a comment on it, finished my homework, and it's 11.30. This happens a lot. Whenever I have a 6pm finish followed by a 9am start, it seems more or less impossible to wrap up my work much before midnight. This probably says something about my efficiency.
All this learning is a full-time job, and I'd forgotten just how tiring for the brain it can be. Also, I suspect the classroom kind of learning is particularly hard work; even with regular five-minute breaks, we're still basically sat down for an hour at a time paying attention to a teacher and trying to parse meaning from a textbook. This is very different from, say, sitting in your own house with a pot of tea and a popular science book.
I have quite a few little projects that I'd like to work on, as well as reading and so on, but my brain's usually too tired to do anything that serious by the time I've finished my work for the day. Here's hoping things will ease up soon...