Okay, because I don't seem to have enough time to write in interesting detail the things I have been doing I am, going to give a brief overview in bullet form. Later on I will go and add in more detail. Or if a story is particularly interesting I will tell it out right. I am sorry for any boredom this may cause, but at least you will know what I am doing. And I am starting not to be able to remember what happened which days. So this will be easier.
Monday after the Hanami:
-Japanese Placement Exam 9:15-10:45
-After not doing Japanese for a very long time this was very difficult. I was kind of nervous about it, but it would have been far worse if it would have actually effected our grade, which it doesn't. So that was good. It was a multiple part test; kanji, writing, listening, reading comprehension, then we went in and talked to 2 of our teachers about our Japanese language experience. It wasn't really that bad, and we got to watch Nausica, Valley of the Wind (Miyazaki Movie) while we waited for our interview section. Also a lot of people have since moved into easier classes or are auditing harder classes.
-After that we went up stairs to this big welcome party type thing where we got to meet the U of C students from California. They were all pretty cool. Everyone was really excited about eating, but I actually didn't think the food was that great, even though I was starving.
-I cut out of the party kinda early and went shopping in Shibuya with some friends at this giant mall called 109. It's awesome and all girls stuff. There are so many good shops and it is actually fairly reasonably priced, though some of it is a bit expensive. I will have to go there again. That was the end of Monday.
-We went to a town close to the dorms called Jiyugaoka. It is a nice shopping center area. Very pretty. Lots of Sakura and little eatery places. Kinda ritzy, but has a grungy side too, lots of Pachink parlors.
-We meet our Sensei's there for our intensive Japanese class. We are supposed to be learning how to ask directions and navigation skills. They break us up into groups and give us a list of stores and their descriptions, a map of the area with base landmarks, and some helpful phrases to ask and questions about each store we need to answer (when does it open, when does it close, what holidays is it open on, what does it sell, is it expensive, ect.)
-Our groups wander off. I was actually the leader of my group and we did pretty good. We were also supposed to find another store not on the list that we though was interesting. We did ours on a cake shop.
-We all conviene at the bus terminal near by and ride the bus to these huge gym like buildings in front of a massive park. I still am not entirely sure where we ended up. There we got bento boxes for lunch(which also aren't really my thing, unless it's noodles, cheap Japanese food doesn't do it for me.)
-After eating we presented our places we found. Our groups did okay, luckily we had people in the group who spoke Japanese better than I do, other wise it would have been terrible. After presenting the teachers gave us little word association games to do. The first was round things, we got some interesting ones. The second was reasons you were late. We came up with alien aubduction, which I can't remember what it was. But another group did the same thing and they did it much better, very dramatic.
-Then we were done and we all kinda of went back to the bus stop and then back to Jiyugaoka or the dorm. I ended up hanging out with this really cool girl named Wendy, she was at MGU last semester. She is very pretty and actually has a modeling gig, which I think is cool, but it does have a lot of draw backs she isn't happy about. We ended up exploring Jiyugaoka, I found this really cool little jewlery stall with very nice jewelry. I got a new ring with a giant moonstone set in it. It is very pretty and I like it very much. The man there was very nice, and Wendy, who speaks near perfect Japanese, said he liked me very much and thought I was funny (probably cause it took me almost an hour to find the ring I wanted, I'm picky.)
-After that we went back to the dorm and I believe that was about it.
-Went to the Emergency Responce Building and learned what to do in case of an earthquake. Fujiyama has been kind of active lately and there hasn't been a major earthquake in Japan for a while, so it is kind of likely that one happens. I am nervous about it but trying to deal with the fact that it could happen and accept that at the same time. I feel more prepared now.
-We learned how to use a fire extinguisher, which I didn't even know how to do in America (why did I have to come to Japan to learn that, you think they would teach it to you in high school, it's kinda important.) We went through this maze of smoke filled rooms where the lights turned off every now and then, stay low and breath slow, it rhymes. Also put something in front of your mouth/nose so you don't breath in smoke. And we went in this room that simulated an earthquake. It was actually kind of fun, you ducked down under the table and held on to the legs so they didn't jiggle too much. It was very good to know.
-After that was over Megan and I went to this little Chines restaurant near the building. The food was pretty good and relatively cheap. I wish I knew how to read menues better. Maybe we will learn that soon, but the point and nod tacktic works pretty well.
-I believe that was it for Wednesday, and that after that we went back to the dorm, we let out pretty early but everyone was kinda tired.
-Thursday was the great Yokohama trip, I have a post-in-progress about this, cause it was kind of an interesting epic tale. A breif overview is:
-Woke up at 6, slept for 15 more minutes, woke up at 6:15, got ready, was out the dorm by 7. Walked to Ookayama, rode the train to Meguro, rode another train to Shinagawa, rode ANOTHER train to Totsuka after picking up munchies at Shinagawa. Got to Totsuka at 8:20, stood in line for 20 minutes (and ate my munchies). Rode bus to Yokohama. Sat in an interesting class (Conflict in International Court) for an hour and a half about. Did the whole commute backwords except I stopped at Shirokane-dai. Quickly met up with friends and went to lunch. Then sat in Kabuki for an hour and 15 min. I have a feeling Kabuki is going to be a great class, I love the teacher, she is awesome, and we get to go see Kabuki, so it will be great.
-I believe at some point I went off with Wendy again. I wanted to put this watch locket pendant I bought at 109 on Monday on a ribbon or something so it would hang farther than my other necklaces. So she took me to this GIANT crafts store in Shibuya. After that we decided it would be a great idea to go to kareoke, so that was my first time doing that. I was a little nervous, because I am a terrible singer, but it was actually more fun than I thought it would be once I got into it. Kareoke really takes a lot out of you though. And then I think we went back and that was the end of that day.
Friday. Friday was a difficult day for me in the beginning, but it ended up not that bad.
-I had Japanese class first thing in the morning. After not doing Japanese for a very long time it was very difficult. I am one of those people who have to learn by doing, so I have to write everything down a few times before I get it through my head. Also being dyslexic doesn't help. Even now I am still getting nan and doko confused and I know the difference, it's just one comes out of my mouth when I want to say the other. It's upsetting. Also I have a cold/allergie type thing. I'm not sure which it is, and I don't have anything to really make it better, but I have had a stuffy nose for about a week now (it's monday) and it hasn't really gotten any better or worse, it just comes and goes. So I was a little grouchy and sleep deprived and ill.
-End story is I kinda had a little break down in class because I felt really stupid cause I had to be lead through every question I was asked and everyone seemed to be doing much better than me and learning everything much faster. And I really was trying but Nihongo wa chotto musukashi. I am improving, but we were doing conjugations, and I found it really hard to keep up when people weren't even writing things down and I was trying to take notes and still getting it wrong. It's frustrating. I wish I was better at languages, but I really want to learn, even though at that point I was very upset about it.
-When class finally, mercifully ended I kinda wanted to be alone, so I went off on my own to Meguro and got my travlers checks changed to Yen. Sadly I didn't take ALL of my travlers checks with me and I wanted to take all of them.
-When i got back from that I felt better but still wanted to be alone. I ended up eating very tastey pasta from the cafetiria out side in the courtyard in back of the dinning hall. I went up to some of the Japanese students smoking in the smoking area. I talked to them and found that one was a member of the Aikido club, which I wanted to join. I had met him before at student orientation but had kind of forgot (along with events, people are starting to blur and I forget who I have and have not met before.) We talked and exchanged numbers. He said it would probably be okay if I wore sweats to practice if I wanted to come on Tuesday. just now I recieved a conformation e-mail from him asking if I was meeting him there. So it is official that I am going tomorrow. Only problem is that I don't have sweat pants, only bike shorts, so I either need to borrow a pair or buy a pair somewhere tomorrow. and just wear a tank top and sports bra, and take out my piercings.
-After talking to the Aikido kids (not naming names yet) I decided I wanted to take a nap, but didn't want to ride all the way back to the dorm only to sleep for 20 minutes before coming back. I had about 2 hours before my next and last class of the day. So I went up to the 10th floor, which was where our orientation party was held on monday. I curlled up next to this big window in the sun and slept undisturbed for an hour before a security gard lady came up and told me that I wasn't alowed up there. She was very nice about it. I think it gave her something to do, she politely told me students weren't supposed to come up there, and when I said I didn't understand, which I didn't at first, she proded me to this sign in front of the elevators (which I couldn't see when I came up because it had been dark) and said that it said gakusei (student) not allowed, pointing at the kanji as she said it. I wouldn't have been able to read it even if it hadn't been dark because it was all in kanji.
-After that, I went back down stairs and sat in front of the door to our next class with the rest of the ISp students. The class is "The Art of Tea" and is all about the tea ceremony. We actually got led to the tea room that is attached to the school in this little pit of a court yard. It's kind of a cool area, and I didn't even know it was there until I was shown the area existed. The gym is also in that area, so I am very happy about that.
-I think I am going to like this class, the teachers are very nice and said I could come early since I have so much extra time before hand and meditate in the tea room before class. There are a lot of rules and little formalities in the tea cerimony, I knew this, but I didn't realize they applied to the people being sered as well as the host. It is very martial arts like. It has that zen aspect I thought it would and is very pleasent. I think I will become good at it over time and will enojy the class very much.
-After that I wandered around the school with Wenday randomly for a while. Ended up coming back to the dorm kind of late. I believe that I then slept for a few hours cause I felt icky. Later that night I went to my favorite bar in Jiyugaouka with a bunch of friends, like me an 8 other people. We were amost too much for the tiny hole in the wall, they had to put two tables together. I actually got us lost going there. Because the first time I found it I wandered around for about an hour, the second time I found it I wondered around for an hour. This time I also wandered around for an hour but since I knew what I was looking for I tried asking people. First I asked a cab driver, but he didn't know. Then I asked a polieceman (the police in Japan don't really do much but help you if you get lost. There really isn't much crime to fight, but they will stop you and ask to see your papers some times. And they are very nice and not threatening at all. He couldn't find it, but was looking, I tried to ask a few kids that looked like they would know the bar scene, but they kinda laughed at me and said they didn't understand. Then this woman came up to me and in perfect English (with something that sounded like a broklyn accent) asked if I needed help, to which I replied "Oh MY GOD YOU SPEAK ENGLISH! PLEASE HELP ME TRANSLATE WITH THE POLICE!" to which she said sure. And after going through a small floor plan of the city and me repeating everything I remembered being close to the bar, we got there.
-Happy ending we got to the bar and had a great time. It was a lot of fun, and every one enjoyed it, and didn't mind me getting them lost too much.
Saturday and Sunday:
-I didn't actually do that much on the weekend. Saturday was sleeping in a bit (till 10 which is still pretty good for me) and then cleaning my room and going through my papers and stuff, trying to get organized. Going shopping at this pretty cheap grocery near the dorm. I cooked a little bit of chicken for easy preperation later on.
-In the evening I ended up going to Kareoke again in Shibuya. It was pretty fun, I enjoyed it. We got a lot of food, and I actually knew what I wanted to sing this time around. Didn't get through as much as I had hopped.
-Sunday was sleeping till 10 again. Then working on home work and all in all lounging. Later on we ended up goingSOMEWHERE, not exactly sure where, and got these huge Paraiftes. I had two because I didn't think the first was enough cause half of it was these icky black cubes that the Japanese seem to like for desert call mochi. I don't like them, they taste like a bitter licorice that isn't tasty to me. So I got a second one, which was far too much and I could only eat half of it. And then I had a sugar hig and was all giddy and running around. And then I crashed hard core and actually got a little depressed. Those bring downs from sugar highs are worse than the crash from a caffine high, you can actually get depressed.
-We also went to the Japanese governemnt office buildings that are 45 floors tall with a big observation center/gift shop on top. I finally bought some cell phne charms. They had a cute fuzzy totro and catbus charm, that I had to have. And they were very nicely priced. I love them very much. My cell phone finally looks like it is actually Japanese. Then we went back to the dorm, I showered and Crashed.
Monday (today... or what was today seing as it is now 1:10 am on Tuesday and I really should be in bed.)
-Went to Japanese in the morning, did adjective conjugations and got a nifty little packet with a penguin called pen-san. I actually think I did okay today. I am slowly getting better
-Met my other budy, who was sick and thus unable to meet me before this, named Ayako. She is very nice. We had a quick lunch together before I had to run to my next class.
-Went to Japanese Society and Culture 1, which looks like it might be a very easy class, and I hear from past students that it is. But I hope we learn a lot. I really like the teacher, he is nice and fun.
-I went back to the dorm early, my arm and shoulder really started hurting. I think I pinched a nerve cause my arm actually started going numb and kinda spazaming and siezing up. It might actually be a tension thing, but I don't really know. I don't have any advil and they don't really sell anything like that in Japan. So I am really sore with nothing to make it stop hurting. I tried to ask Ikazawa-san (the caretakers wife) if she had anything but my Japanese is not that good so I got one of my fluent friends to translate. 0y friend actually ended up giving me something that put me under for about 2 hours. My arm felt better. I actually made my self spagettie with garlic and chicken in the sauce, it was good. but now my shoulder is hurting again.
I am going to go take a really hot shower and hope it makes me shoulder feel better. If I am still sore I don't think I will be able to go to Aikido, I hadn't thought of that, but I really don't want to make it worse, it hurt so much that I was near tears, it's that funny, I just hit my elbow feeling but all up and down my shoulder and arm, not fun. Also I need sweat pants cause I didn't bring any and bike shorts are not appropriate for Aikido. I will try and borrow some for tomorrow and then buy a pair on Wednesday. I don't have classes on wednesday, so it will be perfect.
Thats my up date. You are now fully filled in on what I have been doing, though with not that much detail. but I am sure you get the gist of it.
God night for now.