Today I am taking a Lithuanian language placement exam — tomorrow I start a three and a half week intensive Lithuanian language course. I know it seems odd to be taking a language courses at the end of my year in Lithuania, but there is some rationale to this decision. My Lithuanian language skills have improved a lot this year through using the language in daily life, using it in research and working with a tutor. I expect that the intensive course will solidify the improvements that I’ve made and will push me forward a level in my language abilities. Hopefully it will also help me maintain my language skills once I return to the U.S. and stop using Lithuanian every day.
Because the language course will require a significant time commitment — daily classes on weekdays and homework — I’ve been wrapping up my research this month, trying to get as much done as possible before today. I still have a few interviews in the process of being scheduled and one more day’s worth of work in the library archives. And I have a lot of people whom I want to see before I leave. But all in all, the majority of my research here in Lithuania is completed.
Yesterday I went through my dissertation to-do list and got it down to one page. Some things I crossed of the list because, in the end, they aren’t that important. Quite a few things were moved to the “future research” list. My research topic is constantly expanding as I come across new information or think of new ways to look at events or see connections with something else. But the reality is that I need to write a dissertation now. Once the dissertation is completed, I can explore some of these other research paths and see where they lead. Right now, I have a manageable list of really important items that I can accomplish in between conversation practice and grammar exercises.