When I was a small child, I would often join my father and little sister in making fun of my mother for putting on Christmas music when it was still November. She’d start dusting the living room, breaking out the big boxes of decorations, and put on A Charlie Brown Christmas. “Mommm,” I’d say. “It’s too early for Christmas music! This is embarrassing.” She’d smile as she unwrapped a snow globe or a decorative candle and say in a sing-song voice, “I know~”
This year I started playing Christmas music in the beginning of November.
I try really hard to keep Christmas alive for myself here. It’s not like Japan doesn’t celebrate or decorate – the blinking lights above Odori Street prove otherwise. But something’s missing. I know the religious element is absent, but I’m a Catholic in name only, so that doesn’t bother me. It could be that I miss the cozy feeling in the air that you get when everyone around you looks forward to going home for the holidays, but the Japanese do that for New Year’s, so it’s not that either.
Maybe it’s just simply a lack of nostalgia for the holiday here. It’s changing, but for the most part, people didn’t spend their childhoods looking forward to Christmas. Children nowadays are taught to believe in Santa Claus, but I don’t know if it’s the same. I do think parents buy a few presents for their children, and there is a traditional Christmas meal in Japan called “Kentucky Fried Chicken,” but none of the adults have memories of writing letters to Santa Claus or shopping in malls covered in evergreen and sparkle.
YEAH GUYS. I’m so completely happy at this moment because of two huge things: First off, we’ll start with the TAKKYUU PING PONG TABLE TENNIS CIRCLE and how I’m totally melding into the group much better than I expected. Now don’t get me wrong, I still have plenty of communication problems and I’m not even that good at ping pong (as was evidenced by today’s practice, ouch), but everybody is just so nice and friendly. It’s really rare for a foreigner to join a club or the like at college because of, well, lack of Japanese skills, so I think they’re mainly just surprised that I’d be a) interested and b) able to actually communicate. They really seem excited to have me join the club, and while it’s mostly because I’m foreign and can practice english with them and sort of a crazy oddity, I have a feeling that I’ll be really close with them by the time the semester is over. Plus, this will do wonders for my Japanese, of course haha.
Sorry guys, I’ve been super busy the last week or so! BUT HERE’S WHAT I HAVE TO SHOW FOR IT~~
So my grand interview is over! Man I can’t even watch it, I feel too self-conscious, but everybody said I did a great job. The Japanese sounds nice at least! A few people came up to me and asked how I got so good at Japanese all of a sudden, but I was like, no way I didn’t do that on the spot! I rehearsed that thing thousands of times. Actually, maybe not too much! I wasn’t too nervous, so this bodes well for my gaijin tarento career, guys. Unlike my droopy face and frazzly hair!
Here’s a translation for all the fine folks watching at home: “How is life as a foreign student?”
“It’s fun! For someone like me, who’s been interested in Japan for such a long time, coming here is a miracle. Going to a Japanese college every day and living by myself makes me feel like, ‘I’ve become an adult, haven’t I?’ Moreover, as far as internationalization goes, Ritsumeikan is the best. Going to school with Japanese students, and having the chance to talk about your own country, about Japan, and about other countries, is very interesting. Honestly, as time goes by, I’ve come to like Ritsumeikan more than my own school, and I don’t want to leave.”
Waughhhh that sounds so lame =D
Anyway, what else has been going on? I took my placement tests again, but they were no problem. I’ve been studying so diligently that I didn’t really expect them to be either. And I didn’t do too well, either, you know? I guess A class would have been good for my studies, but seriously, all my friends are going into B class! Other than that, all the new kids are here, and we’ve all just been hanging out and getting to know each other. My Japanese is so much better this semester and it’s so much easier to just chat with new Japanese students…well, it’s still difficult but I’m getting there! I’m finding that I’m saying “easy” stuff much easier to say, and I respond quicker, but I still stutter and I still stumble over words trying to express complex phrases. Well, もっと頑張らないと！I figure if I keep studying the way I am, plus class, plus clubs, plus new friends, I really will make the absolute most of these last four months. (it makes me so sad to see “last four months!”)
Now there are about 12 people from Rutgers here now. Can you believe that? I’ll say that again: TWELVE students from Rutgers. It’s a running joke now that all the Americans period are from Rutgers University. I guess I really really really didn’t need to worry about getting into Rits way back when, did I? It’s really nice too, because I’ve sort of shown them around (somewhat!) and it’s really easy to talk to most of them because we all come from the same place. We should just make a Rutgers Circle and be done with it! On Thursday night, we went out karaoke (along with tens of other students), and split up into two rooms we had like 40 people. And let me tell you, the Rutgers room was the most fun ;P. I’ve actually been partying more than usual lately, but it’s all just to welcome all our fresh, naive new exchange students hah.
Well, lastly, I’m thinking I’m going to join the Manga Club and the Ping Pong Club this semester. LOL right? Manga Club is easy enough to see, but Ping Pong? My reasoning was that I wanted to be in a sports-like club because they usually hang out more and are more welcoming to foreigners than another club might be, because you don’t have to talk quite as much to play a sport. And well, ping pong is the only “sport” I’ve ever been decent at…Plus, it sounds funny. Tomorrow they’re having a small meeting to go do Hanami (flower/cherry tree viewing) and I’m going, so that should be fun! Well, I’m actually a little intimidated – I don’t think any other foreigners will be there, but I need an outlet of JUST Japanese people where we JUST talk Japanese. And we’re going to Arashiyama so maybe I can get Matcha ice cream or better yet, Sakura flavor… Wish me luck guys!
Speaking of cherry trees, it’s just gorgeous around here with them all in bloom. I know, I know! Pictures, right? They’re coming…I just hate uploading them, I’m sorry! Hahaha.
Well, it’s that time – I’ve got to start picking my classes for NEXT semester (Fall 2008), and I’ve got to start preparing for housing. Luckily, I’m shacking it up with my old roommate Kathy and another person I met in freshman year, but I still have to deal with appropriating deposits and signatures and that sort of thing while I’m not in the country. Still, it’s super-nice not to have to worry too much about where I’m going to live my last year of college! Thanks, Kathy, for pretty much doing this for me, haha. Otherwise though, classes are going to be a huge pain in the tuckus. It’s not like I could register for Japanese 401 because my credits haven’t been counted at all yet for this year, but then there’s the problem of there … not being any 401 class for Fall 2008? It’s still kind of early, so I suppose that’s why there’s no listing yet, but uh, they’ve got anywhere from 6-12 people coming back from Rits in the fall, and we’re all going to need/want to take that class. This is why I’m not too worried – I’ve got a ton of people in the same situation. Still, isn’t this pleasant, to look at the course listing and there is no listing for the Japanese you need to take and you only need 6 more credits of Japanese and could they just deal with their administrative problems later. Ha ha! Of course sending an email to the department head doesn’t work, because it’s not like he knows about the Japanese classes. I guess I’ll have to have a place holder of 4 classes for Economics – or maybe I can just finish my minor this first semester back!
It was nice not to have to deal with this kind of stuff for 6 months, but I have to start being an adult sometime!
Hey guys. First off, it’s come to my attention that there’s no real way to contact me – you could use the forum, but everyone knows I haven’t checked it since I installed it, haha. I just have this aversion to forums, I guess, except for SelectButton/InsertCredit, which I’ve been reading for like 3 years now, but made posts maybe 5 times? I just can’t think of what to say, or contribute anything to the conversation/forum drama/performance posting. Anyways, I’ll put my email in my profile along with right here. akrips86(at)gmail(dot)com Of course, all of you know to remove the things in parentheses and insert the appropriate punctiation – and again, to be honest with you, I’m not good with checking email. I check my school email once a day, but that’s one I’d like to keep relatively free of non-school related emails, you know? Anyway, there you go. I kind of forgot that people other than family and friends are reading this (which is stupid, since this is what I created it for to begin with), so sorry about the flakeyness~
Hey all, finally we started doing at stuff at school. To tell the truth, yesterday was like super boring because I didn’t feel like walking around by myself and getting stared at if I got lost. Plus the food I bought from 7-11 stunk (don’t ever get their bento if you’re in Japan, they ain’t worth it). Like, I knew I’d get stared at Japan; it’s one of those things they tell you all the time. You’re a big strange foreigner, there’s aren’t many of you here. Yeah I know. But I just didn’t expect that people would glare at me, sort of like, “what the hell are you doing here?” I’ve gotten it especially from school boys and middle aged ladies, so I usually glare right back. Pwah, I say. Pwah. Anyway, so I was getting a little depressed with the lack of things to do, so it’s great that orientation started today! (more…)
Hey yall, I’m up early again. It’s because I keep falling asleep at like 9 pm, but atleast last night I slept the majority of the night. I woke up for ten minutes because I had fallen asleep and still had skype on with Jon, and we were sleeping together (aw!) until the dryer buzzer went off in his house. But I went right back to sleep, so that’s good. I think part of the problem is the dumb seashell/bean pillow I have. I just used my tootsie roll pillow last night and atleast I’m not all sore. My ankles got really sore yesterday so I just called it a day after 4 pm or so. Oh well. I’ll get used to it here, I just need a bike. Also, I uploaded pictures from the trip to Flickr, so check them out. Still no pictures up of my area, but those will be in time :) (more…)
Well it’s 12:30 am here and I just woke up because I had to go to the bathroom (and also because I was sweating buckets and I forgot to turn my aircon back on before I went to sleep) and now I can’t go back to sleep. So I’m going to write more about my trip to you fine folks! A lot more happened yesterday that was pretty awesome, but I figure I should just go in order, yeah? Maybe also I’ll work some more on pictures. Does anybody know if I can just reformat a whole set of pictures instead of going through each one and resizing them individually? If you could shoot me a line in the forums, that would be awesome.
Anyway, at the airport I got corraled into the shuttle and just sat around grinning. We waited around for about ten minutes before Luke showed up; he hadn’t reserved a shuttle so I was like, just ask them at the desk if they have an opening. I mean, my shuttle only had 3 out of a possible 9 people in it, so I knew he would be able to get on. The driver had this neat box cut hair, and was so serious. What was actually pretty neat was that because I spoke a little Japanese in the beginning, he trusted me enough to speak Japanese whenever he spoke a question (he would try english with luke). Oh man does that sound really egotistical? Well I understood when he was talking to me, but while he would address the whole shuttle, I would blank out. (more…)
I’m writing this on the plane to Japan, because I’m not really sure how many hours have passed since we started. Spiderman 3 has played two times (I think!), so it’s gotta be about 6 hours. My computer clock says 8:43 pm, but that’s Eastern Time, and I left San Francisco at 3:30 pm ET, so that’s … only 5. Crap. I’m not sleepy enough, and I don’t feel like taking the Tylenol PM I bought. I think I’ll leave that for when I’m trying to get to sleep tonight/tomorrow/whenever I get to my dorm. Well, it’s not been so bad. I beat the Elite 4 on my first try in Ruby, so that’s pretty awesome, but also a pain. I watched Georgia Rule and parts of that movie with Zack Braff and the cripple guy, and the last 45 minutes of Spiderman 3 dubbed in Japanese. I lied, I’m bored as heck. (more…)
Been saying goodbye to everybody, it’s kind of hard! I’ve been good though, I’ve only blubbered once. Well, I’ll probably cry all day tomorrow up until I leave the gate, but uh, that’s expected! I’m a girl. BUT! Everybody: download Skype, so that I can videochat with you all! Not to be a corporate shrew or anything, but the program is free as long as you’re not calling actual phones, which you’re not because I’ll only be on the computer. Anyway, it’s really nice. I have that, and I have my cell phone (hopefully it works like they say it will), and I have a couple phone cards my dad sent me in an awesome card that sung, “Hit the Road Jack.” So there, at least. Communication is viable.
I’m kind of freaking out (of course!) because I need to set up my shuttle reservation, and I didn’t mean to wait til last minute, but I did, basically. I still have until like 5 am tomorrow to make sure I can get it, but I’m pretty sure I’ll have to call Yasaka Taxi and make sure they have my online reservation. I don’t want to be stuck taking the train with four bags at any rate. This’ll be my first international call! I wonder if they’ll answer in Japanese. I’ll atleast get to say eigo wo tsukatte mo ii desu ka, I’m too intimidated to actually speak at Japanese at the moment, hahaah. BUT GOD. No matter what you do, you always end up running around last minute.
Basically I’m completely unprepared emotionally for this! BE PREPARED FOR TEARS. Seriously though, I’m going to try to post in real time for this – I’ll post when I leave, post when I get to California, and then post as soon as I get my internet set up (which may be some time!)