katekat: (_nihon_lion)
I finally sit down to try to make a post of many parts (including pictures not my own since i often forgot my camera just when it would have been useful this trip), that reminds me to remember certain pieces of the trip, while also explaining where I've been.

I wish I could say I've been out running here to there having the time of my life, so busy that I haven't been able to be at the computer, but the truth was that I was sick.  I think I already bitched about that, but it started on a Thursday, I sat out fun things on the weekend so I could get better, slowly recovered so that I mostly felt all there to take the final (but not entirely all there to study for it - I figured sleep was the best present I could give myself on that score, so the final really became a 'these are the areas you need to study most' thing rather than a 'final' with a grade).  But then the cold came back on Friday of this week, hard enough that my housemate told me I looked like was doing 'pretty bad' at the final school party - so again, I went home and tried to rest it out.

Still sick.

However, in the mean time, I did squeeze some things in. 

pics or it didn't happen you say? sure! )

So today, my last day in Japan, I took two sudafed (nicole still has a stash of the ones with pseudoeffedrine in them, so they actually, you know, work, and keep you alert), and we went to Kamakura (no, really, click the link, it's pretty)

Those pics also forthcoming.

What I'm going to miss about Japan )

What I am looking forward to when I get home )

Things I won't miss about Japan, not at all )

ok, that's that. more posts coming soon i guess!
katekat: (AI_adam_shy)
So, after three days of being actually locked out of my LJ account (there was a password mix up, don't ask, it's all taken care of, hopefully, at this point) I'm back!

To say that my awesome learning experience in Japan has been enhanced with a cold.  Awesome.  Not.

So i haven't done anything interesting in the last week except to drag myself to class and post one set of big bang art and basically thurs/fri/today I've been sleeping and trying to rest and get over this crap.  Especially since it's my last weekend with my classmates all here.  And I would like to celebrate that a little!  But noooo, instead I have awesome runny nose.  At least they're obsessed with vitamin C here and you can get awesome awesome awesome vitamin C type chewable things and drinkable things at every conbini. 

But seriously body? so did not need this. Better than getting sick after I get home I suppose, because I basically fly home, get to spend a night at each parent's house, then have to get back to LA for paperwork and orientation. BLEH. But still.  It is terribly hard to even think in Japanese properly when one's head is stopped up.
katekat: (_nihon-flower)
first off, i have now discovered something i hate worse than sweating while swimming!  (ok, i don't totally hate it, but it does feel gross).  But what feels worse is walking home in the pouring rain when it's like 100% humidity with your umbrella trying to shield you but really doing a rather piss poor job, carrying your groceries in one hand with a loaded backpack on your back.  Because not only are you sweating, you're also wearing what was once dry clothing.  No longer though!  No, indeed, everything was soaked to the gills.  Basically the umbrella kept my face kind of dry.  So yay for that!

Last week was painful - we had a mid term.  I did so so - great on the reading portion, TERRIBLE on the conversation portion because I didn't realize till later what i was being asked.  LIKE HONESTLY DIDN'T KNOW THE WORD.  There was a little bit of stress last week and when that happens I get stressed out in my damn interview things with sensei's and then ... well, brain is down the toilet.  Oh well.

After test was Kabuki - which was amusing and bloody (yay) and half the class fell asleep anyway (LOLZ) and then after that was shibuya where we found a nomihodai to have some dinner at.  Totally cute little basement place (like lots of places in shibuya are), and the food was actually really tasty and kind of korean-ish (there was kimchee, ok).  Then we did Karoke and I have amusing pictures that I will post of that at some point.  Super fun.  And we got home on time!!  (oh, and i think i posted about that, still tipsy and stuff).

Saturday was recovery day and i didn't really do anything but consider leaving the house in an abstract way.  But Sunday!  Sunday I met my old advisor (the one who didn't get tenure, who is here for a couple of weeks) and other of her students for lunch at this vegitarian restaurant called Vegitable Sushi Potager (you can read in english!  don't be scared) that was actually REALLY good.  We even had dessert.

I was thereafter supposed to meet housemate and other school friend to go shopping and do the whole Harajuku thing and possibly museum, but housemate forgot her phone, and I ran really late, and there was a train station mix up, so I ended up waiting an hour for them and shrugging my shoulders and going to the book district on my own.  Who says you can't make your own fun?  I dont'!  AND I FOUND I SCI FI BOOKSTORE! And it was awesome.  And has old sci fi magazines.  And six SIX books written by my favorite author.  So I bought four.  I will possibly go back for the other two next weekend.

Monday was supposed to be homework and I got a good start but then got totally reckless.  Oh well.  It was actually a day off from school (our own summer break! woot! sorta) and so I think the resting was probably good for me. 

Now though, it's back to the grind stone.  EEP.  Bye guys!!
katekat: (_nihon-flower)
Week 1 is over!  Well, there's tomorrow (sunday) where the owner is throwing us a bbq and i'll basically be prepping for that and doing homework all day, but other than that it's a done week.  We had placement tests!  I was placed!  I'm in a class with people whose speaking abilities roughly match mine, though my reading abilities are a little better, I think, but that works for me.  We have an absolute ton of homework, some of which I did on the train ride today since I went up to Tokyo and it was a 2 and a half hour ride to get to the conference I was attending!  Which was great fun - saw a panel on social activisim that talked about DIY Punk in Japan, another one where the best presentation suggested that films that have the conflict around traditional/modern (past/present) may not be as easily read and categorized as we think, and felt an earthquake (tiny one! don't worry! they happen all the time here).  I really spent most of the day on trains, but even that was entertaining - there was a guy on the train wearing fuzzy leopard shorts with pockets.  Like the shorts were made out of fuzzy leopard material.  I shit you not.  How I love you Japan!

and here are more pictures for your amusement )
katekat: (_nihon-flower)
*waves* made it!  Made it actually several days ago, and it's awesome to be back in Japan.  It's hot, sticky, and the place that I live is luckily only halfway to the top of the hill instead of all the way, and still I have to take a break midway up the street to get there because I'm panting, but it's still awesome.  There is only one other person living in the guest house right now (and I picked it purposefully because it was a small one and only houses 6 people total anyway, but she's upstairs, I'm downstairs, and we're both doing the same language program.  It's awesome.

So yesterday we went to the store and bought actual food to cook since we have a functional and not too frightening kitchen (and ended up going back again later for other non food type necessities), and today we took the train out to the place we'll be attending every day for class, wandered around and got lunch, visited the park next door, and then poked around our neighborhood a bit before heading home. 

There are so many silly things I like about this country - the fact that random strangers will ask you if you need help when you and they are both browsing at a bookstore; the fact that there's a bookstore on one level of the department store that is on top of the closest train station; the 100en (hyaku-en) shops that are so much better than dollar stores in the US; green and growing plants everywhere; the taste of flaky pastry and the twisty little streets.

So, here are my three pictures from the last couple of days - since I've been doing the recovery from jet lag thing it's been slow going, but that's ok, I'm already having a great time.  Hopefully classes will just make it a learning great time!

yep, you can take pictures in japan! )

Tomorrow we have to go take placement exams and get oriented, which, ok, not looking forward to, but at least we'll get some idea of the schedule (i hope) and that will be great since they are supposedly planning field trips and things for us too. :D
katekat: (_nihon)
Well, at least I'm in the airport!  Flight is on time, i'm prepared with everything, even the last minute stuff, i think, and ready to go.... and now comes the waiting and the computer charging! 

I finally got excited for this trip!  And I'll write a longer entry in a couple of minutes once I've done the rest of the 'i'm leaving posts' (and if i have time).  See you guys when I get there!

katekat: (Default)
dear housemate,

Please, for the love of all you hold dear, do what you said you would and get the damn vacuum cleaner fixed.  I feel as if i am drowning in dog hair. When I asked you if you'd do it 'this week' on Monday I was hoping for something other than 'sunday, the last day of this week'.  While you're at it, please attempt to clean the paint off the driveway that has been there for two months since it's my deposit that will suffer for it.  Oh, and it's great that you wash your own dishes - could you also put them back in the cabinet?

lovingly yours,

and, wow, apparently i need to write a letter to the world )
katekat: (Default)
Getting better.  Still have a great hacking cough, but I don't think I'm quite hacking as much as I was yesterday.  I get better in percents - say about 5% a day.  Which means, of course, that spring break has been eaten by the cold.

 In good news
  • got funding for summer!
  • got into Middlebury for summer!
  • parents are going to help for summer so i might even be able to go there!!
  • did laundry today including weird things like shower curtains (this is why it's worth it to buy fabric shower curtains - you can wash them)
  • dog is totally passed out from actually playing at the dog park, and we had a new first - she chased a ball when i threw it outside! This is a benchmark, really it is.  Mom had this idea that since Domino only fetched inside, that maybe fetching was  a play thing she only really did when she was relaxed and comfortable somewhere.  If that is true (which I think it might) then she's feeling like the dog park is her space
  • i am clean!  oh, and Trader Joes has this tingly tea tree body wash that actually tingles.... pleasing.
  • oh yeah, stopped smoking last friday... have had minor urges but have quelled them.  am looking forward to unstinky life in the future.

In things yet to do )

Wow, ok, the todo list could be way worse.  That's a relief.

Thank you to everybody who has bid on a movie poster!!  There's still open spots if anyone else has $5 to donate to relief in Japan and wants one .... my thread is here.

Other than that, nothing major is going on except for some amusing gossip that the ex may be in the market for boyfriends as well as girlfriends ... at least according to his facebook profile as tweeted to me by another friend.  (and Miranda, if you read this, call me, will ya? we need to discuss in person!)  Life is never dull is it?
katekat: (_nihon_buddha)
It's just a selection of my favorites, because, um, honestly, I posted approx 200 online in my gallery here, and that was culled from the 300 personal pictures I took and kept and the other 200 pictures I got from other people.  Yeah, we took a LOT of pictures.

So, our fabulous tiger costumes from the costume party invite you in ... GRRRRRRR! )
katekat: (Default)
So the bad stuff?

Believe it or not there was actually bad stuff. The first was the fact that it was enough of a stressful situation that I cried in a couple of my classes because I felt hopeless and tired and as if I was never going to be able to understand Japanese. And while there is a rationale for crying in class (hello stressful situation, fish out of water, in ability to express oneself when one is quite used to having a mastery of the language), it was still embarrassing both during and afterwards. Some teachers handled it better than others, or at least made one feel less like a git for doing it, and it made me appreciate the job they took on all the more. Because honestly I don't think any of my teachers really wanted to make me cry.

I guess I should mention how classes worked: our individual level had four teachers and a TA. Every morning we would gather together in our full group of 22 students for a lecture/reading discussion class where we went over the passages that we'd read the night before and take a vocabulary quiz. After that we split into groups and had a listening comprehension class, a speaking/dialect class, and a grammar/kanji class for an hour. Most days we had a quiz in each class, except for Fridays when we prepared for the presentation we did every Monday (along with a Monday chapter test). I think I probably loved the sensei who taught us dialects the most, even though there were days where I avoided him completely. He had seemingly a ton of patience, and was often absolutely hilarious, but he didn't let us make many mistakes without commenting on them either. I think that was part of the reason why I liked him – I knew I wasn't going to be let off the hook but I also knew that he could smile and laugh and be goofy too, so it made me unafraid to try even when I was getting it terribly wrong.

Probably the worst thing was that, I fell down some stairs in our classroom building and thought I'd broken my ankle )

But looking back on it now, if these were the worst and the hardest things to struggle with? Could have been far far worse. And the feeling inferior and unintelligent? Probably really good for me to get over that hump and get to the point where I was willing to * try * and hold a conversation instead of too embarrassed to say anything.

Next up, photo post, with happy memories, promise!
katekat: (_nihon-flower)
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): If you and I were sitting face to face and I
asked you, "What are the most important lessons you've learned these
last 11 months?", what would you tell me? I think you need this type of
experience: an intense and leisurely conversation with a good listener you
trust -- someone who will encourage you to articulate the major
developments in your life since your last birthday. Here are some other
queries I'd pose: 1. How have you changed? 2. What long-term process
needs to come to a climax? 3. What "school" are you ready to graduate

Funny  I should get a horoscope like this since I'm coming off one of the biggest lessons I've had in years.  I don't want to forget things about this experience, from the people to the place to everything.  I will write a little bit of this in Japanese in a second, but I've spent the last 9 weeks struggling to express myself in Japanese so I'm switching.  Of course, at the moment it's difficult to think in English too, so I'm assuming my wording will be a bit weird.  You're warned.

The best things about the summer? )
katekat: (_nihon-flower)

私の寮 (私の部屋を見られるですけど、五階に住んでいます)

十日後で。。。いい経験と思う )
katekat: (Default)

自分の眺め。 (時間がないのでどこも行かなかった。)

夏学校は難しいね。 )
katekat: (Default)
So it turns out I don't have to take the language pledge until 9 am tomorrow, so until 8:59 (and 59 seconds) I'm reveling in as much English as I can!!

I made it!  After a red eye flight to NYC where the two guys next to me both declared they couldn't sleep on planes and so proceeded to talk (one guy was a DP and the other was from back East visiting family and yes, I know that AND more about them because they were speaking in their regular awake voices and DID NOT SHUT UP).  I managed to pull a couple of hours despite that, and slept on the short hop from NYC to Burlington even though the kid behind me kept deliberately putting the seat table up and then letting it drop and bounce to amuse herself.  At least it was jet blue and I got to catch the Daily Show & Colbert on my way out.  Somehow it's more soothing to take off when you're being amused by comfort TV.

Lurching off the plane I saw a woman holding a sign with my name on it - because there's a car service that specializes in lugging students the hour drive.  I sat up front so I could see all the OH MY GOD FREAKISHLY GREEN Vermontian countryside.  WOW is it cute.  WOW is it green.  Like they need to invent new words for all the shades kind of green.

Spent the rest of yesterday trying to fend off fatigue (read: slight dizzy spells from time to time, a little vertigo, and fuzzy contacts) while meeting the people who live on my hall and the people in the Japan program.  While I'm not looking forward to dinning hall food for the next months, the food they have seems to be at least mildly interesting and sort of healthy, and we have to walk halfway across the campus to get lunch and dinner so at least that's something.

We all have little pins that have our school initials on them (JA for japanese), and we're supposed to wear them all the time so others will know why we're not speaking english, and so strangers can (apparently) walk up to us and speak to us in the correct language.  I've already been in stilted conversations with teachers and some amusing 'talk japanese in a texas accent / like the godfather ' discussions with the women I've been hanging around with, but it's going to be very interesting post 9 am tomorrow!

The people here come from all over - so far I haven't met anyone who's doing CIA language training (unsurprising since they're all probably doing chinese not japanese), but several teachers who do first level but want to teach higher level classes and a bunch of grad students.  I haven't met the 'oh i just love anime' people yet, probably because they're not on my floor.  We're the 'older' floor according to the housing coordinator, so I'm not the oldest by a long stretch, nor am I the youngest. 

Placement tests were this morning and while gruelling I ACTUALLY KNEW THINGS.  I didn't know everything, not by a long shot, but it wasn't as painful as I was expecting it to be.  Also, though, multiple choice.  And while we don't know results or placements yet, I have hope I'm not going to be dumped into the same class I've been taking for years.  Small hopes, but hopes nonetheless.

So one of the solutions I was considering to the whole 'posting in japanese' thing (since the poll seemed to go neck and neck yesterday) was that I'd post a photo of something interesting or pretty or reflective of my emotional state.  Then you'd know without reading -- and put all the Japanese behind a cut.  That's not going to be too painful is it?  Hopefully not - mass defriending would make me sad.  :)

oh, and did I mention the college is beautiful?  freakishly picture postcard beautiful.  They even have adirondack chairs spread all over the uber-green lawns here. Picture forthcoming, once there's some sun in the sky to take it with.

Unless i get a bug up my butt this evening, this is me, signing off in english, telling you guys that I'll try and keep up as i can but I adore you all even if I'm not around to comment and say so! AND HAPPY SUMMER!

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