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Health exams and cell phones

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 9/25/2004 11:06:46 AM
Another long day of doing all sorts of things and not doing other things I did want to do. Woke up a little later than usual, then hopped on the train to go to Waseda for a health screening. I timed the trip; it was just about an hour long. The funny thing is, the train trip only takes 25-30 minutes; the rest is just a LOT of walking.

The health screening wasn't super-exciting. They mostly only spoke Japanese, but the tests were so simple you didn't really have to speak anything at all to figure out how to do them. The height-weight test was actually kind of cool: you stood on a small platform (which weighed you) and then a motorized arm came down onto your head (lightly, of course) which instantly measured your weight. Everything was automated, exact, and fast. Cool beans. ^__^

Picked up a tempura set lunch from a little stand across the street from the building my classes will be in; pretty good. I'll have to remember that place if I feel like some fast food-ish Japanese cooking. Which reminds me... there's a Wendy's on the way to Waseda, so if I ever get a sudden craving for a spicy chicken combo, I can get it.

After that I went to buy my cell phone. Fortunately they let me get it this time, which made me rather happy. I had to wait with a group of Japan Study people who were also waiting for theirs to process, and during the wait the guy in the booth came out and gave us each rather fancy fanny packs for our phones. I'm probably going to just put my phone in my front right pocket (because it is currently empty), but the fanny pack is still awesome. When I actually got my phone, there wasn't a charge so I couldn't do anything with it until I got home. Just as well, too, because everything was in Japanese and I ended up needing to download an English version of the manual from the website before I could figure out how things worked. I'm still playing around with it; it's bilingual so I can read everything in English, but all the web/network features are still in Japanese and thus are difficult to read. I'll figure them out eventually. I'll also get a picture or two of it up, too, since it's nice and small and cool.

Before I got home, though, I stopped at the supermarket to pick up some OJ, milk, and cereal, because I know I consume more milk and OJ than the family combined (at least it seems that way), and I don't want to have to be an unnecessary burden in that regard. I couldn't find any cereal, though; in a five-story supermarket/department store, I couldn't find any cereal. Huh. Maybe it's hiding somewhere and I just need to look harder. That could be it.

When I arrived home, Mama had a bunch of her friends over and was discussing some nutrition thing with them or something. They said I could come back when they were finished, so I went up to my room and began setting up my cell phone. Japanese cell phones kick the pants off American ones. I'll just leave it at that for now. Anyway, eventually Saki-chan and her friend came up to say I could come down, and so I did. I didn't really talk to them much (mostly because they didn't ask me anything much, and I'm not yet at the point where I feel friendly with people I don't know and don't speak my language enough to start idle conversation with them), but I had some tasty sweet potato cake and some sort of fruit-topped cake that I can't identify. Some of Papa's friends who had driven two hours to visit had brought me a huge bouquet of flowers... that was amusing and unexpected. *laughs* After everyone left, I played with Saki-chan for a while; she had me draw and write things on paper, but not after making a necklace for me (which actually turned into a bracelet because my neck is so huge). She's so cute.

Had なし (nashi, Japanese pears) for dessert again. Lovely stuff.

I have all these random observations that I want to write down here, but I can never remember them when I sit down to actually type things up. My cell phone has a voice memo feature, though, so whenever I think of something I can just record it and play it back later. Awesome.

Oh yeah, here's a first: I actually found a one yen coin on the ground at the Takadanobaba station. Holy cow. I wasn't expecting to ever find ANY coins during my entire length of stay here in Japan. Absolutely amazing.

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Nothing much

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 9/26/2004 9:39:43 AM
Nothing really happened today. It rained pretty much all day, so I spent most of it working on my laptop, drawing out new website desings, playing piano, and talking to people online. The grandpa came over again for dinner, and Saki-chan and I played for a while... but other than that, nothing really happened at all.

I got Tetris for my cell phone, though. That should be fun for the train rides. ^__^

And I'm hopelessly addicted to these fruit chewy things. o_O

Classes start tomorrow; I'm not looking forward to going to my level 2 class one bit. I have this odd feeling it's going to be way below where I need to be, but... gah, we'll see I suppose. *sighs*

3 replies

Posted by: BKUzzell 9/26/2004 6:21:08 PM
Dear Greg,
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checkin in
Posted by: badcheeso 9/26/2004 8:21:35 PM
when you make an account -YOU- should have a field that shows the persons real name and screen name. the real name is only accessible to YOU.


I think this is one of the times that you need to CHANGE your envionment. Go to the first class, see where you are ability-wise then approach your teacher with your recommendation.

What is Oyasuminasai?
1 reply

Posted by: Gerf 9/27/2004 5:10:11 AM
Oyasuminasai means "good night." ;)

I am really thinking I will be changing my environment, though. The first class was rather easy; I know it'll pick up later, but I'd rather pick up into high gear as opposed to low gear.

You'll have to explain your idea about the accounts, though; not sure I got what you meant…
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Rainy day

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 9/27/2004 9:02:15 AM
Today it rained. A lot. Like, ALL DAY LONG. Apparently all this rain is from a recent/currently-happening typhoon somewhere. Japanese people are quite used to it, though, and for the first time I was able to see what the whole deal with umbrellas was as I went to school (and came back) for the first time (well, for classes, anyway). Just about EVERYONE has an umbrella; if they don't, it's because they're either riding a bike (though many bikers still use umbrellas), riding in a car, or there was a severe accident and they lost posession of their umbrella. These things are everywhere... and they're all large and high-quality, too. I wanted to get a picture of people with their umbrellas running all over the place around the crowded Takadanobaba station, but both hands were full at the time and besides, it was raining. *has to laugh* Even still, my camera managed to get wet. My umbrella's cool, but it seems to work better in America, oddly...

Anyway, so yeah, classes started today. I had to leave at 7:30 in the morning, which gave me about 30 minutes of leeway, but I needed that extra time because it was raining and it was rush-hour; by the time I got to school, I only had five minutes left to spare. That may also be due to the fact that I took the semi-express as opposed to the express; the semi was there, and I didn't know when the express was going to come, so I took my chances on the semi. It makes more stops (I think six more), and I guess sometimes it's not so bad (when there aren't a bajillion people) and other times it IS so bad. Perhaps tomorrow I'll wait for the express. Somehow or another I'll have to get a picture of a crowded Japanese train... it's quite nuts. Today wasn't so bad, aside from everyone having wet umbrellas; the first time I was on a really crowded one, people packed in so tightly that I seriously couldn't move.

The positive side of my Japanese class is that I know about half of the people in there from Japan Study. The bad news is I feel extremely out of place. Nothing against the teacher or the people in the class at all, but if the whole year is going to be like this, I'm going to flip out. I'm sure it will pick up soon, but... I really, honestly think I belong in the next highest level. I have until something like October 4th or 7th or something to petiton for a change if I want, so perhaps I'll just wait it out a little bit and see if I can covertly let the teacher know I should probably not be here. But... we'll see... as always.

My schedule is actually quite nice. I have three hours of Japanese instruction on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday starting at 9:00, and on Mondays and Tuesdays at 2:40 I have Ecology. Wednesday from 9:00 until 12:10 I have Science Fiction in Japan, and on Thursdays from 1:00 to 2:30 and 4:20 to 5:50 I have Statistics and Application. All other times of all other days are totally free. ^__^

It looks like I'm going to be kept quite busy in Japanese, no matter what level I end up in. Ecology, on the other hand, sounds like a very different animal: the teacher doesn't assign homework and we don't have a textbook; the only grade is our final exam. A blessing and a curse. We'll see how that goes.

Oh yeah. And if I didn't mention it before... bathrooms in Japan have no towels. In fact, nowhere public has towels. Makes washing hands very entertaining and bothersome.

I bought the six (!) Japanese books I needed from the bookstore: cost me about 13,000円, or something like $100-$120. Dang. After that I went to see if I could talk to Michiyo-san about my computer tech job, but she couldn't be in due to a sudden illness in the family. So, I'll just talk with her tomorrow, since my schedule is exactly the same.

After classes I dragged my soggy butt to the supermarket (well, not really dragged, as I went there on my own volition and actually wanted to go there, too) and found some cereal. Yay! More cereal for Gerf in the morning.

Man, I'm really tired, and I still have to take a bath and study kanji. Where the heck did the day go? Grah.

Well, off to studying.
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Of getting a job and randomness

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 9/28/2004 9:02:16 AM
Another day of classes, another getting back home at 6:00 or so. Whew. Today wasn't cold and rainy like yesterday, though, so that was kind of nice... except that meant everything was hot. I wore jeans and my grey fleece jacket-ish thing, which turned out to be completely unnecessary and made me hotter and more uncomfortable than I needed to be. Even though it was a little before 6:00 when the train pulled into the Higashimurayama station, I still bought an ice cream cone from a vending machine to cool myself down as it were. Very good, actually.

I was rather disheartened yesterday when my academic adviser came into the second Japanese class and said, "If you think you should be in another Japanese level, you're probably wrong." I was a little relieved, though, when after class today one of the Japan Study students said that his friend who did this program last year said the teachers look to see if you're out of place and can usually tell pretty quickly if you belong in a higher (or lower) class. So... we'll see if the teacher notices my situation, or if she too thinks I should be where I am.

After my Japanese class I had another lunch at the cafeteria; good food, relatively inexpensive. However, I'm thinking I could dine for even cheaper elsewhere... I'll have to explore some. After that, though, I went and talked with Michiyo-san and Mr. Campbell about working for them with computers; I'm now employed! Woo! I'll be working for a few hours every Friday, and when computer hardware work dies down I'll be helping them construct a website. Good deal. I think I'll enjoy that quite a bit. I won't be working too much and therefore won't be pulling in enough to defray the costs of my ケータイ and meals, but at the same time, any money is money and it's not like I'm going to be working my butt off the entire week. I think it's quite a good deal! I'm looking forward to helping them out on Friday.

I ate dinner alone today because everyone was gone and Mama had to go out for something. So, she basically filled the table with food for me, told me what everything was, and then headed out. I ate as much as I could, partially because she told me to but partially because I was really hungry, and there was still a lot left over; I think people are eating it now. As I ate I watched the news; there was a special section on the happenings in Sudan, which was really sad to watch. I'm... not sure what I want to say about it, either. Not here, anyway. *sighs*

Lots of homework to do. But first, here are some random things I made note of today (using a voice-recording feature on my phone!) that I might as well mention:

- In Japan, there doesn't seem to be a "correct" side of the street to walk or ride your bike on. When you want to go somewhere, you just go. At least, that's what it seems like. I see people walking on both sides of the street all the time, but whenever I'm walking everyone always seems to not be doing what I'm doing, which always makes me feel like I'm missing something. *has to laugh*

- The toilet in my host family's house pretty much tells you when you're done... because when it thinks you're finished, it'll flush for ya, whether you really are or not. And for that matter, the bathtub will tell you when it's done, too. Literally. There is a little control panel in the kitchen that lets you set the water temperature and stuff, and at a certain time every day it chimes and says that the bathtub is now filling; I actually saw it fill on its own once. Then when it's done, it plays a little tune and says that the tub is ready (it actually speaks it). The house knows. Dun dun dunnnn.

- There are huge crows/ravens all over the place. Maybe it's just in Higashimurayama, but I hear them all the time, and they're BIG and LOUD. I was sitting at my computer more than once and thought the cawing was coming from my speakers because the sound was coming straight into my window and bouncing off the computer screen. o_O

- Maybe it's just me, but it seems like a lot of people don't actually use their cell phones for calling. I only see maybe one or two people actually talking on their phones when I go to Takadanobaba... the rest are playing games or reading mail or doing something. But then, of course, I have yet to actually talk to someone on my phone, and it's very rude to talk on your phone on the train, anyway. Using it for e-mail, games, or whatever is just fine, though... as long as you turn on the "Manner Mode," which basically means all sounds are off.

- There are very interesting things on Japanese TV. Game shows are everywhere and are very odd, and there are some really creepy news stories too. Last night I watched a news story of a guy who hijacked a bus with a butcher knife that must have been over a foot long and three inches thick. A few nights before that, I watched some show where a bunch of guys essentially went into this filthily rich woman's house and used just about everything she owned in a huge domino relay. They built little domino-able hangers to use her purses, they stacked shoes on their ends, they used picture frames, suitcases, maniquins wearing mink coats, busts wearing all of her necklaces, and fake hands that were wearing all her rings; they even launched rubies and pearls like they were marbles. That lady must have been worth billions of dollars. It was hilarious. They had some very creative ways of knocking everything down, and they did it all in the house, too. As in, they started the dominos outside of the house with suitcases, and from there it went throughout the entire house and ended up pulling the cork out of a champagne bottle that poured champagne into a pyramid of wine bottles. Heck, they even stacked a few hundred valuable coins on their ends and included them in the rally. COINS. If I remember correctly, it took almost an entire day or something. It was all in Japanese, so I had a limited understanding of exactly what was going on. ;)

- A used clothing store. Need I say more.

I think I'm going to grab some OJ and then do some more Japanese studying. Later all.
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More rain...

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 9/29/2004 8:24:02 AM
Ho ho ho! Last night I finally decided to try Skype to make international phone calls for a fee, and I was VERY impressed. For about $12 I get 10 (!!!) hours of calling time, and the people I called on the other end have all said the quality is very good. That makes me happy. ^__^ Now I can call anywhere for super-duper cheap! That's awesome beyond belief.

It rained again today, but not until later; therefore, I wore shorts and a t-shirt, and subsequently got quite damp. o_O Oh well.

Anyway, the science fiction course looks like it will be an absolute blast. It's taught by Tom, and we get to read/watch all sorts of really thought-provoking things and discuss them. Very different from my usual math/computer/science courses to be sure... and as such, it's a very nice breath of fresh air. I'm going to be doing a LOT of reading, but I think it'll be a lot of fun.

I ate lunch today with some friends in the International Student Lounge, then set off in the rain to try and find Building 19, where my math class is tomorrow. Now, this is beyond silly. Not only is the building not labeled as being Building 19, but it's not even on the map that we get in our packet. I had to look at about six maps around campus before I finally found the building (after completely walking by it once), and when inside I still wasn't sure so I asked a guy in the security office. Geez. I guess they want to keep the building hidden. *laughs*

I took a nap when I got home today and studied some Japanese, then went downstairs and played piano for some kids who were over. They all thought it was really good, and I was actually rather surprised at how I sounded on such a good piano. I showed them my room and some pictures from home, and they thought those were cool, too. Saki-chan and I made meals out of paper in my room before and after dinner, too. She's a handful sometimes!

Well, I need to take a bath and go to bed. It's early, but I'm really tired for some reason... even though I napped. Maybe I'll study some kanji while I lay in bed.
2 replies

No title
Posted by: Ksmith9505 9/29/2004 9:55:38 PM
Glad to hear of your adventures. Keep writing, I like reading.
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Dude....I swear....Saki Drinks :-P
Posted by: Sake-San 9/29/2004 11:15:45 PM
Well, what else is new people? Yes....this is Jassim from good ole.....ole? Right, anyway, Gerf sounds like you're havin a blast buddy. I Like hearin about your stories. By the way, you never played the piano when we Capoeiraed. You just held your ears shut when I kept smashing the living daylights out of the keys. "GET OUT OF MY OFFICE!!!!" ROFL. JENGA!!!! Right, so considering the fact that I just finished talking to you online and amist my confusion over the 4 year old's name. ( I personally thought saki was sake....hey its just a vowel right?) Anyway, must eat...some...thing....

Ja Nay,

Farukhi-San eatin some SUSHI.....
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Heh, that was a mistake

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 9/30/2004 9:20:15 AM
--> 15:41 - International student lounge
Today was the first day I DIDN'T have to get up at 6:00 to go to class, which was nice, except my body decided it would force me up at 6:40, anyway. *laughs* Guess it's so used to waking up early that not doing so is simply unacceptable. That's okay, though, because I was able to talk to people online for a while, which was very nice. I love talking to friends back home, especially Kristin and family. ^__^ Mama made me some yummy rice and a banana smoothie for breakfast, and I spent the rest of the morning chatting and studying Japanese.

Then I realized something. My first class isn't at 2:40... it's at 1:00! MEEP! It was 12:10 when I realized that, and I had to tear out of the house in a hurry and practically sprint to the station. Left my cell phone in my room and didn't have time to eat lunch, either. When I got to the station, though, I had to wait for about twelve minutes for the next express to Takadanobaba to come, because the last one had left about five minutes earlier. Then during transit, the train stopped randomly for a minute or two here and there, which annoyed me... even though I knew there was nothing I could do about it and it was my fault anyway (and an honest mistake at that... I seriously thought it was 2:40). Fortunately, though, by the time I got to my Statistics and Application class, the teacher was still explaining the syllabus and hadn't taken attendance yet. Whew.

Statistics should be rather interesting. It's the second course in a statistics sequence, so I'm going to have to read the book and learn all the statistics stuff I don't yet know. However, my four years of calculus should be sufficient to know most of what's going on.

Picked up some yummy カツ丼 (katsudon, very yummy) at a nearby store and ate in the student lounge. I managed to snag some Internet access, too, though it wasn't through the Waseda wireless network and instead through some broadband modem wireless LAN. o_O;

I'm going to go pick up some OJ before my next class. It's hot outside, and I haven't had any OJ today. Out.

--> 22:16 - Yoshitaka residence: my room
On my way back from classes today (very late), I stopped in the Wendys which is on the way. Really, all I wanted to do was see if they had lemonade there. They've got CC Lemon, but that's fizzy and is supposedly more like Sprite than anything. Foo. Other than that, nothing much happened for the rest of the day. Came home, did some homework, ate, studied. I'm going to bring Apsu downstairs now and go over my vocabulary one more time for the kanji and vocab quizzes tomorrow, then I'm going to take a bath and go to bed. Maybe tomorrow I can inquire about getting my Japanese class moved around...
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Yesterday and today

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 10/2/2004 9:03:33 AM
--> 7:18 - Yoshitaka residence: my room
Sorry about not writing anything yesterday; it was a tough day and I couldn't bring myself to type anything when I realized my 30-minute nap had balooned into an hour and 30-minute nap and that it was almost midnight. o_O

Yesterday I managed to get up and go to school at the right time, which was good. *laughs* Friday Japanese class looks like it may not be AS interesting as Monday/Tuesday (we have different teachers), but it's still slow. During the break, my hopes went up as the teacher, on her own volition, asked about how long I had taken Japanese (she was surprised when I said I had only taken two years), what books I used, and so on. After classes were over, I went up and asked (in Japanese, which may not have been such a great idea after all) what I had to do to get moved to Level 3, because I felt this class was far too easy. She brought me down and had me talk with the Japanese Language Director, but that didn't take very long to come to a hasty conclusion. The basic message was, "Level 3 is much faster and challenging. Your grade would just go down." >_< Well, yeah, that's the entire reason I want to move up to Level 3... not to have my grade go down, but because it's faster and challenging. I'm not going to learn too much more than I already know throughout my entire year in Level 2; the only way I'm going to learn more is if I can actually be challenged.

*sighs* It was quite a downer. I wasn't even given a chance to demonstrate or explain why I should be moved. The future of my Japanese minor being fulfilled here in Japan is now in serious jeopardy. Just the kind of thing you want to hear, isn't it? *laughs*

From there I grabbed a lunch at a convenience store (of which there are zillions), then went to the Japan Study office to do some computer work. It took a while because of security issues, but eventually I got the computers hooked up to a brand new laser printer. My next task will be to get some files off an old iMac and onto a PC, which will likely include either burning things to a CD or using my camera's Memory Stick (which is what I'll likely do) because the computer doesn't have a working network connection.

After that I did what I should have done BEFORE I got all my Japanese books: I became a member of the university Co-op. Really, all that means is I get a card that I can wave around and get discounts, including (perhaps most importantly) a 10% discount at the bookstore. If I would have done that before getting my Japanese books, I would have saved about twelve hundred yen. I saved about that much this time, though, and will likely save that much again when I pick up the rest of the sci-fi books I need to buy. Dang, books are expensive when you don't buy them online or share them between suitemates! Gah! O_O

Well, now I have TONS of reading that needs to get done. I mean, a LOT. Maybe there's a place outside I can just sit and read or something, so I don't look like I'm cooping myself up in my room or anything. I'm not purposely TRYING to remove myself from the family or anything... I just have a lot of homework that needs to get done.

Today I'm going to go to an elementary school concert. Hopefully I'll be able to get some pictures. ^__^

And now for the return of more random observations, thanks to my eyes and the voice memo feature on my ケータイ...

- It's really awesome to be able to browse the menus of restaurants without having to go in. Since they have all the food they sell out as wax/plastic samples (or sometimes the real thing), you can see just what you want and just how much it is. In the city it seems a little more popular (and economical, since space is such a premium) to have things displayed on signs instead, but nevertheless you can still see what you're going to get.

- You know parking fines in America? You get bicycle fines like crazy over here. ;)

- At least in the city, if you need to go to a convenience store, just walk two minutes in any direction and you'll run into one. They're seriously everywhere... and they all sell almost the exact same things for almost the exact same prices. Sometimes it makes me wonder why they even bother having separate chains!

- Ever see a small door between buildings that opens up into an alleyway? A door to an alleyway. That's quality stuff.

- I know I've probably mentioned this before, but trash cans on the streets are almost non-existent. They just don't have public trash cans around... and yet, Japan seems so clean. I find that rather ironic, especially since in America you've got trash cans everywhere and yet people throw trash all over the place. Amazing.

Well, time for breakfast.

--> 21:57 - Yoshitaka residence: my room
The concert I went to today was a lot of fun! I went with Mrs. Yoshitaka and three other moms (some of whom I had met before) to an elementary school, where the "concert" took place in a music room. The four moms performed piano, singing, and hand bell songs, and there was a lot of interactive songs as well. Very awesome... I even got to play the hand bells. ^__^

When I came home, though, I pretty much read for the rest of the day until dinner. Over 150 pages of Japanese science fiction stories... whew, my brain feels weird now. *has to laugh*

At 4:30, an absolutely beautiful tonal music began coming from outside, and I stopped my reading so I could listen to it. It was this soothing, ethereal, otherworldly tune that seemed to resonate throughout all of Higashimurayama. I asked Mama about it after dinner (and, by the way, we did a LOT of talking during dinner... even about things like family trees and ancestral roots), and she said it was the "time for schoolchildren to go home" bell. Very cool... I'm going to have to keep my ears open for that more often. It's so beautiful. Maybe the next time I'm around at 4:30 in the afternoon, I'll see if I can record it. Yes.

Practiced some piano, and now I think I'm going to go to bed early. I'm so tired, even though I didn't do anything today and I even took an hour-plus nap. Holy muggle. o_O
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Of Japanese baseball

Location: Yoshitaka residence: my room 10/3/2004 7:43:12 AM
Today started off like many other days: with phone calls home through Skype! *laughs* Talked to the family, my grandma, and Kristin. It's so wonderful to hear their voices! ^__^

I figured today would be another study at home day, since it was raining pretty badly all day, but at about 1:00 Soichiro called me from downstairs to come hop in the car with Mama and Saki-chan. I wasn't exactly sure where we were going, but as it turns out we went to a baseball game! Mama dropped Soichiro and me off at the Seibu Dome, a large domed stadium, where we watched the final playoff game of the Lions vs. the Fighters (go Lions!!!). We got some kick-butt seats in the front row and almost right behind home plate. Before we had arrived, the Fighters had taken a 3-0 lead. However, soon thereafter the Lions drilled in a grand slam and then scored another run the next inning by a walk; we left before the game ended, so I don't know who won. I'll have to ask Soichiro tomorrow sometime.

I'll tell you... Japanese baseball games are something else. Each team has their own cheering section, more or less, complete with bands and people that jump up and down and cheer from the first pitch to the last. The cheering is amazing... and it doesn't matter if the home team does well or not, because there's enough cheering going on on both sides. *laughs* Of course, food is expensive... not only is it Tokyo, but it's also a stadium. They wanted seven bucks for some beer. o_O Dag, yo.

One of the very interesting things I noticed (which made a lot of sense, as so many things in Japan) is that when a foul ball starts coming into the stands, workers with whistles blow warning alerts in the area where the ball is coming so some poor dude doesn't get belted in the head by a dropping ball. I thought that was really cool. Two foul balls came very close to us, too; one landed maybe four or five seats behind me, but then bounced straight back onto the field. *laughs*

Since I was rushed out the door (because I didn't really know where we were going and didn't even know that we were going anywhere in the first place, I wasn't able to bring my camera... otherwise I would have taken a bunch of pictures. However, since my cell phone has a camera (and I was sure to snag that before I left), I was still able to get some pictures. I'll get those up when I can (as with all the other pictures I've been neglecting to upload for a week).

When I got back from the game, a little meeting of some moms and a daughter was finishing up. At some point, they'd like me to speak English with them; I'd be glad to. ^__^ They all seem very amazed that I can use the computer well, that I have a girlfriend, and that I study quite often; every time any of those facets of my life are mentioned, everyone looks very surprised and is like, "Oh, wow, really? Wow!" *laughs*

During dinner, I talked quite a bit with Mama and also Natsuko (in Japanese, of course). It felt really good to talk with them more, because when I can speak with them a lot I feel so much better about things. Especially talking with Natsuko... I think this was the first time we had actually exchanged multiple sentences in one sitting. We talked a lot about differences between American and Japanese things again, from companies to sports to pronunciations, and also talked about Snoopy and the Lion King. Natsuko brought down her absolutely gigantic Snoopy plush (the thing was maybe 5/8 my size); makes me want to pick up one of those large Simba plushies. ^__^ They also pulled out a children's Lion King picturebook. It's in very simple Japanese, but chances are I'll still be unable to read it. *laughs* Ah well... I'll learn. I should be able to understand my favorite movie in any language, right?

I've got to pick up some more of those fruit chew things tomorrow. I ate my entire supply. Or, better yet, maybe I SHOULDN'T buy any more... otherwise I'll just eat all those, too. o_O Hopelessly addicted.

Which reminds me... the fact that I'm addicted to OJ is always an amusing point that is often brought up, too. *laughs*

Even though I have low points sometimes, I'm really enjoying myself over here. Haven't gotten drunk or beaten up by gangsters or run over by a train yet, so I think I'm going to be okay. And I'm sure that as my Japanese improves, my experience will get better still.
2 replies

If the gangsters and trains don't get you...
Posted by: UNFDAardvark 10/3/2004 10:17:34 AM sure to watch out for the giant robots, guitar-wielding visitors from space, and power lines ;)
1 reply

Watch out
Posted by: Gerf 10/3/2004 5:42:05 PM
Yeah, I managed to destroy a giant robot and run from a guitar-wielding space visitor a few days ago, but I still have yet to run into any power lines whatsoever. *doesn't look at the pictures from September 20...* Nope, no power lines.
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Week two

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 10/4/2004 9:04:40 AM
--> 14:01 - SILS library
I woke up 20 minutes earlier than I normally would have this morning because I had a really cool dream that I really wanted to type up. I kind of wish I would have been able to sleep, though, because I'm really tired right now. I still have about 35 minutes before I even have to start thinking about going to my next class and thus it would be the best time to sleep... but alas, there are no beds on campus I could just slip into. What a pity.

Anyway, this morning I had a bowl of うどん (udon) noodles instead of cereal, which I enjoyed quite a bit. Also nabbed an おにぎり and some OJ, then headed off to school. In the rain. Again.

Talked with my other Japanese teacher about moving to level 3... no go. Despite my best intentions, the stubbornness of the accuracy of that placement exam is going to win out and keep me restrained in my studies of the Japanese language. Nothing is stopping me from learning ahead on my own, but it's one thing to self-school yourself and actually have a professional do it. So... whatever. My fate is sealed. What a ridiculously easy fate it looks like it will be. *sighs*

Lunch only cost me a little over 200 yen today, as it was just a small salad and a yummy little sandwich, the contents of which I'm still not sure of. It was like a meatball sub, but instead of meatballs they were little pieces of a fried/breaded meat, likely pork. Very yummy, and rather inexpensive. After that I came here to the library and read through the most recent Newsweek magazine, then studied some Japanese vocab.

Don't get me wrong... I'm still going to be learning new things in my Japanese class. It's just I'm going to be learning them two or three times slower than I could (and should) be.
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Realization and apologies

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 10/5/2004 5:26:44 AM
First of all, I'd like to make an apology. For the past week or so I have been bashing Waseda's decision to stick me in Level 2A for Japanese, and I've been spending lots of time fuming over the apparent shame and humiliation of being thrown back into "Elementary Japanese." However, things changed today. During the break between my two Japanese classes in the morning, the teacher came over to me and said that there is an exam for students who wish to move to the next level, and that after class today I could follow her to the teachers' office and take it if I still wanted to. What an unexpected turn of events! So, after class I went down and took the test: this one seemed to be a much better indicator of what a student did and didn't know about Japanese. It was much longer (it took me over an hour to finish it), but it included things like kanji recognition, sentence writing, a survey of what kind of grammar you did and did not know, and even a little translation. While I took it, the Japanese language director came over and talked to me again; this time I was able to respond to her questions and statements much better, and she explained some things I wish I would have known from day one.

Apparently, the reason there are five sublevels of Level 2 is because there are so many students that fall into that category, and with good reason. Most students here have taken Japanese for about two years, and Level 2 is designed with them in mind. While the material that is covered at first is all review, the course does in fact pick up, and by the end of the year some rather advanced topics are covered. The pace is just a little slower and the class is conducted in a different manner than Level 3. In Level 3, the teachers don't check your homework (you have to check it yourself) and there are basically quizzes and presentations due daily. You do cover much more much faster than in Level 2, but, again, that doesn't mean that Level 2 is ridiculously slow (something I wrongly assumed).

Had I known a bit better the exact details of Level 2 and Level 3, I would have been completely content with my placement in Level 2. It's not going to be review all year; again, by the end of the second semester we'll be in very deep water (which reminds me... when it rains here, streams get very very deep). I think I assumed that since some of my friends from Japan Study who appeared to be at or around the same level as I was got into Level 3, I should have too; the fact of the matter is there are five Level 2 courses, and the reason I only see five other Japan Study students in my class is because a lot of the others are in the other Level 1 and 2 courses, with a few in 3, 4, and at least two in 5. I think what happened was I saw "Elementary Japanese" and I said, "What. The. Heck. There's no way I'm in a level that low." But really what I FAILED to see was that Level 2 is, most likely, just where I'm supposed to be. I didn't for one moment think that Waseda could be right in placing me in Level 2; it took a week of frustration and just one small conversation with someone who could explain to me what I needed to know to get my head set straight.

So, for everyone reading this who has had to put up with my constant complaining about something I was completely wrong about all along, I'm sorry. And if there happen to be any folks from the SILS language department reading this, 本当にごめんなさい。 As always, it took a little time for me to realize that what these people have done for me was, in fact, the right thing, and I was just trying to change it. It's funny... I always "preach" (for lack of a better word) that there's nothing wrong with going along with the system, since the system often knows more about how to handle things than you do as an individual, yet I acted like a hypocrite and tried to fight against the system tooth and claw. I guess it's just ingrained in my personality to be like that. For people who know me and/or will know me for quite some time, please remember this and gently remind me about it when I start turning against my own advice.

I will get official notice of whether I am to stay in Level 2 or if I will be moved to Level 3 tomorrow in the mail. If I am to stay, I will be more than happy to do so, for I am finally confident that my credit will transfer back to Case to let me finish my Japanese minor. If I am to move up, then I'd better get studying, because it's going to be quite an uphill battle, though it's one I've fought to fight in.

In other news, it rained a lot today. It's been raining for days on end... how the heck can there be so much rain up there? *laughs* Humorously enough, today in Ecology we learned about the water cycle. And yes, I can most definitely tell you that the precipitation part works. I'm considering purchasing a larger umbrella at some point, because the one I have now can't cover my head and my bookbag at the same time, unless I wear my bookbag in front of me (which is uncomfortable and looks like I'm carrying a baby around). I think tomorrow I'm going to try carrying things in my laptop bag to see if that makes for less wet books and binders; if that doesn't work, then it's bigger umbrella for me.

I bought a dish of やきそば (yakisoba, fried soba noodles) at a local grocery store today for lunch for just 250-some yen, and boy that was a good lunch. Yay for eating frugally, but still getting rather full! I also picked up an アンパン for good measure (bread with a sweet bean paste inside... very delicious), as well as two 1000ml bottles of OJ for just 190-ish yen apiece (as opposed to about 250; they now reside in our fridge). I think a 250 yen lunch with an 80 yen snack for the way back is certainly worth it. Beats paying 600 or more. *laughs*

Still got lotsa work to do... or "catch up with," as some may say. In any case, peace out.
3 replies

gettin beat up
Posted by: badcheeso 10/5/2004 10:57:58 AM
now that you understand the system, i know you'll be beating yourself up about it. so this is a gentle reminder to "KNOCK IT OFF". you're too much like me and you'll have to let go and move on.

glad to see that the system does work.

don't even hesitate, buy another umbrella. when you're done with it, leave it with your family.

sleep easily ............badcheeso
1 reply

Posted by: Gerf 10/6/2004 5:09:11 AM
Amazingly, I'm not beating myself up about it this time. I beat myself up so much when I didn't understand the system already, so now there's no reason to be angry anymore. ^__^
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Posted by: Tom Saville 10/5/2004 5:08:51 PM
It's good to hear of your travels sir ^_^ I know many people that wouldn't document things like this, I know I wouldn't have the time or patience lol. Anyhow, I'm glad things are going well for you.

I hope you progress steadily but quickly XD I wish I had the time to learn Japanese, it would come in handy with my friends at the Arts Institute!
()() - Tom ()()
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