Sorry for such a long wait! It’s been a month since that quick update before the school festival, but even longer since I’ve shared any useful or otherwise important information.
Culture Sho-!… Well, that’s normal isn’t it?
Not going to lie, I’ve become very accustomed to living here that everything just feels normal. Even when I first came to Japan I’m not sure I can accurately identify any experience as “culture shock”. Mind you, I spent the past 4 years studying about Japan, so I haven’t been too surprised. When you get on an escalator you stand on one side, allowing people to walk up beside you; however, lately that seems to have ceased to in many places due to … the danger it may cause? I guess there must have been some incident in the past two years that caused this. Even saying that, I still see people walking up when the sign says not to.
Other things I have noticed.. .let’s see. Well, I may have already mentioned in America we don’t have such strict garbage separation guides. That only took a few weeks to really get accustomed to, now it’s a matter of ‘do I want to start a new recycling bag for paper… or just burn it…’
Recently, more like within the last 2-3 weeks, the front tire on my bicycle was punctured. Tried twice to repair it. Let’s just say there’s more than one hole in it now and I have no motivation to try again for some time. Nor do I feel so inclined to take it to a bike shop when I can walk anywhere I want to go. This means that my 15 minute bike ride to campus is now a 30 minute walk. If my friends want to go to a bar or hangout we usually do it in Fushimi, or Sakae… 20-30 minute bike ride for them 40+ minute walk for me. BUT! These walks are probably one of the few things saving me from the winter weight gain.
Food… we meet again
Even without the abundant food provided at home 24/7, we still find ways to indulge our appetites. November was seriously damaging to many of our wallets- I can’t count the number of times we ate out. One of our favorite spots is a curry house about 10 minutes walk from our apartment. Whether you order the lunch or dinner set, the naan bread is all you can eat. That means if someone can’t finish their curry, you get an order of naan to finish it off… or just because you like naan. It is a very delicious naan bread if I do say so myself.
Another case I would like to point out is a lovely little place called Sweets Paradise. The whole place is pink and from the moment you lay down your $15 for a 90 minute all-you-can-eat pasta and desserts, you’re over. It messes with your mind because you just dumped all that money down for a meal, so you gotta eat what it’s worth, right? Mistakes were made. I’ve been saying I will never go again, but when the sweet tooth kicks in I start to have doubts. If it’s someone’s birthday again, maybe… and with another tactic in mind.
Since I brought up sweets, may I first remind you that there are convenient stores EVERYWHERE. These convenient stores not only sell “BLACK THUNDER” a delicious, satisfying chocolate cookie bar, but they also sell you’re variety of freshly made cakes and breads. We had a good streak of buying what’s called ‘melon bread’ almost everyday. The real deal, made-in-a-bakery form of melon bread not only is shaped like half of a melon, but it also carries a melon flavor. It’s a simple, happy-go-lucky bread… with chocolate chips. But that’s not where it ends……. I really. really. really. love adzuki beans. Not just your average beans, but the sweet bean paste it becomes! They put it in bread. In mochi (chewy delicious rice flour, together it’s called Daifuku)… and then they’ll make ice cream out of it…. *sigh* ….
Drinks aren’t so bad. If you go to karaoke from 10 pm to about 6 am you can get the all-you-can-drink special. There is a more expensive alcoholic version, but soft drinks and coffees are plenty enough for us! It is usually the only time I drink coffee, and who wouldn’t if they want to stay up till 6 in the morning pretending they can sing to more than just the Backstreet Boys ^_^
Now, seriously speaking…
School life proceeds as per usual. It’s not hard to keep up with the work that’s expected of us, so most of the time we end up getting by on the minimum. It’s not something I’m proud of, but much of the study abroad experience is outside of class. Also, compared to those just beginning to study, it feels like we are learning a lot less, but at the same time it’s harder to learn. My friends just took the JLPT exam recently, so they have been fervently studying for some time now. I envy their drive. Perhaps when the test rolls around again in July I will try my hand at it.
In a couple of my classes we have a small quiz every week. Almost two weeks ago now we actually had an exam… because our grammar test would have taken too long during the final exam period we took 40% of it. I’m glad we did because now I have an idea of the format (which tripped most of us up when we first saw it).
Last week, I also had a presentation! It wasn’t my first presentation actually. In our culture class we’ve already had two presentations regarding something we’re interested in within Japanese history and the tea ceremony or calligraphy. These presentations were basically make a Powerpoint, write up what you’re going to say to go along with it, and then during the presentation you can get by by just reading off your paper. That’s not how I’m used to presentations going. So, for my survey class I assumed the presentation would be a bit more interactive. In this case, I ended up being chosen to present first on the first day of presentations, so I didn’t have any example to go off of. Therefore, when I presented, I stood up and was as lively as I needed to be. I didn’t realize the looks on everyone’s faces meant they weren’t expecting that. But, no one stopped me… and from there the presentations continued as they normally do. Sit. Read. Questions?
So what you’re saying is…?
The last point I want to touch on in this post is vague expressions. Part of the politeness that the Japanese society is known for comes from these vague expressions: instead of saying I can’t go, or don’t want to go, they might say ‘Oh, that day is a bit…’ or ‘Maybe I won’t go.’ Maybe doesn’t help me understand, is it yes or no??? It may be one of the hardest things to understand when it comes to talking with Japanese people. Many of the students we have become friends with have studied abroad, so usually they are more direct with their answers. But in some cases it’s impossible to read the true meaning behind the message, ESPECIALLY if it’s a text message. Personally, I already find texts tricky, so I may read into them too much. But, thankfully, they will correct me if I’m mistaken… most of the time haha.
That’s all for now~ It’s only 10 pm but I want to sleep! haha.. .That’s the problem with winter: it’s cold and it gets dark early :< Oh well. Take care, and until next time~