Crazy two weeks

27 Sep

September 26, 2010

The issue with keeping a blog mainly is, when I actually have interesting things going on, I’m usually far too busy to actually write about them.  Take, for example, my absolutely crazy last two weeks.

Let’s not talk about two Fridays ago.  Really, let’s not.  Well, okay.

Basically Japanese students had only been in classes for a couple of days and so all of the exchange students were having a really rough time that week – having trouble with feeling so different and out of place.  It’s weird having peers and older adults just staring at you like you’re in some weird people-aquarium, but I think I’ve mentioned my problem with that before.  But it is a very small campus for how many students go to Nanzan, so basically if you have to get lunch during the actual official lunch break, no matter where you go you are elbow to elbow with at least about 30 people, and when you hear pretty much all of them gabbing about “gaijin” (foreigner) and “ryuugakusei” (exchange student) unconcernedly, like you could get into the program with no basic understanding of Japanese at all, it’s kind of rough.  And what do you do?  Are you going to react to every single person every time?  Anyway, after a couple of days most people had adjusted to all that.

But Friday (September 17), what fun!  First of all, I’m attempting to make friends by joining the manga club – and this involved going by myself to a room crowded with at least 40 loud, enthusiastic Japanese students.  It was terrifying (pretty much the scariest thing I’ve done since sitting in the Indy airport waiting to take off), and I seriously almost cried from feeling so intimidated, but I think it’s still a good idea in the long run.  I’m waiting to see if my application is approved.

Then later – I had bought a brand new bike lock (because my old one from the family had stopped locking and was failing at its main purpose), and it proceeded to rain like crazy for two or three days.  On Friday evening, after a good hour and a half of my commute home, I finally got to my bike to discover that the lock wouldn’t open!  The key wouldn’t turn at all, and I’m choosing to place the blame squarely on the rain.  I messed with it myself for a while, and I felt like I looked really shady (but honestly, if I’m going to steal a bike, I don’t think I would pick the one with dents and rust spots…).  I used a payphone in the station to try to get a hold of Yuko, but she was out of the house and apparently left her cell phone.  So I flagged down the lovely old men who work security at the station parking lot (and yes, they are all literally over 65) and one gentlemen tried his best to open my lock for me with my key, and couldn’t get it.  For legal reasons, of course, no one could just cut the lock for me, and he suggested I call a bike shop.

I was feeling pretty crazy at that point but decided to try and get stuff done around the station since I was stuck there anyway – so I hopped across the street to the Softbank store, to try to get my cellphone a second time.  It wasn’t happening.  (I’m having issues with what IDs they need – since I don’t have my foreign resident registration card yet they’re telling me I can’t get one, although other students that went to the branch in Sakae were like, “What?  I got mine no problem!”)  This is pretty much the most hilarious thing ever, because this was exactly the kind of situation for which I really wanted a cellphone.

At that point I realized I could probably walk home in about half an hour to 40 minutes, but that sounded terrible.  So I took a taxi, came in the door laughing a little more hysterically than was probably healthy, and tried to resume normal life.  Spent the rest of the weekend doing homework and feeling like a jerk for getting their bike stuck at the station, but Kenji somehow got the lock undone with what I imagine to be an equivalent of WD40, threw the bike in his trunk, and brought it back home Sunday morning.  And ever since the lock’s been working like a charm.

So, yeah, all that.  But my positive thinking was, “Wow, that really sucked!  But look at all that practical speaking practice I got in a real-world situation!”

Life was very nice and compensated for such a horrible day with a full week that was all kinds of unbelievable awesome.  Finally have my final registration for classes down, and I gotta say I love all of them. 

Monday is three periods of Japanese, Readings in Japanese Literature (which is requires a level of Japanese one above the one I’m actually in, but I got special permission), and Sadou or tea ceremony.  I can do the reading for literature at my own pace and it goes pretty decently, but the in-class discussion is admittedly a little bit over my head.  But I keep my little dictionary out on the desk and make a real effort to speak up and contribute, and I think the teacher appreciates it (she didn’t approve my registration until she had seen me in class once).  Sadou is really really neat, but we’ve really just started and it’s not clear exactly what we’re supposed to be doing, and holy crap, sitting seiza (with your legs folded under you) is absolutely murder on your legs when you try doing it for an hour at a time.  We were encouraged to take breaks but it was still a little… uhh…  But I get to end every Monday with snacks, tea, and conversation, so I really don’t think there’s too much of a downside. 

Tuesday is four periods of Japanese, America as a Foreign Country, and Intermediate Translation.  America as a Foreign Country is an open class with students from the British and American Studies Department, so I’d say 70% of the students are Japanese, but hilariously, English is mandatory.  Ran into Yuka, who I met at Purdue very briefly last semester, in that class.  I think it will be a good class for making friends – already doing a group project with a lovely, intelligent girl named Yumi and she appreciated my help in explaining research articles in simple terms.  Intermediate Translation is great, because it’s all about learning common forms that get used often, and how to use them correctly.  Also we get to ask lots of complicated questions about the nuances and differences between terms and spend a lot of time trying to figure out distinctions that don’t really exist (or aren’t commonly used) in English.  I think, for that reason, it’s better for learning Japanese at the level I want than my actual Japanese class… 

Wednesday is two periods of Japanese.  That’s it.  I’ve been having lunch at the dorm with my new friend Sarah and hanging out a little while before coming home.  I feel awkward getting home too early, because I don’t really know what to do with myself in the house.  Also, if I only went to class, I would spend more time commuting than actually being on campus, and I’m not willing to admit the trip is that long. 

Thursday is four periods of Japanese. 

Friday is three periods of Japanese, then Sumie (ink painting), which is surprisingly difficult, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that the individual techniques we’re learning are incredibly simple.

Last Thursday was a holiday, and my classes end really early Wednesday, so I was hanging out at the dorms and, just because I was there, I got involved in a fire and earthquake safety training drill.  Part of this involved shooting an actual fire extinguisher at a wooden board with cheesy orange flames painted on it.  Also, we had to scream “KAJI DA!” (“OH NO A FIRE!”) before we aimed.  It was awesome.

I also spent that afternoon doing my first awful touristy stuff and had a blast.  Took the subway out to Sakae, which is basically a city-sized shopping district within Nagoya, full of awesome tourist traps and discount shops.  I accomplished many Christmas presents at both types of stores, and totally blew enough money doing that that I have suddenly become worried about how I’m going to access the money in my savings account…  haha?  (Especially since I need to go back and get more presents!!  And some selfish stuff for me!)  Also stopped in at Osu Kannon, a famous temple in Nagoya, because it is conveniently located smack in the middle of about 12 blocks in each direction of hardcore shopping.  I ran at the very fat and very tame pidgeons there that just sidled lazily away, instead of flying off, and it was strangely thrilling.  Being an oblivious tourist for an afternoon felt pretty good, actually.

When we headed back to the station to head our separate ways home, Sarah stopped and very seriously asked me, “How are you gonna get all that home on your bike?” in reference to my armfuls of bags.  It was a very large oversight on my part, but led to unintentional amounts of Epic Superhero Lynn.  I wore my purse and backpack, put my smaller bags in the basket, and hung my two giant heavy bags on either side of the handlebars, where I occasionally kneed them as they blew in the strong wind while I was racing through the growing storm on wet streets to get home before the heavy rain hit.  When I got in, Yuko asked me how bad the rain was, and I didn’t realize why until I looked in the mirror to see myself with the appearance of being covered in rain.  It was entirely sweat.  I feel like someone should write a techno opera about that ride.

Saturday was Miyabi’s undoukai.  I don’t really know how to explain what “undoukai” is…  Basically her preschool/kindergarten had a big meet where they ran, danced, and did human pyramids and relay races and such.  It was fun and we got great seats, but it was also very very hot, and a few hours after getting home I had turned very very red.  (As much as I don’t enjoy having a sunburn, I do appreciate that it always seems to make a special effort to be as awesomely bad as possible.  Half of the tip of my nose is bright red – the left half.)  That took up the whole morning, from 8 to 11:30, and after lunch most of the afternoon was spent with everyone being passed out pretty hard.

Today was a day of homework.  And cleaning.  And laundry.  And tomorrow is school again!

I’ll try not to go so long between updates because I feel like this is way too long to read, but as you can see I have been swamped.  Between homework (lots and lots and lots of it – more than I’ve ever had at Purdue) and cool stuff happening, I have very little time left, and I want to spend most of it mumbling incoherently with a dull expression on my face, because that’s about how much energy I have left at the end of the day.

PS:  Success at using “ooguisenshuken” in a conversation!  The first time, I was corrected, because it was in fact a speed eating contest, or “hayaguisenshuken,” but fortunately, Yuko and I were watching television tonight with an eating contest elimination show on.  (There are actually a surprising number of competitive eating based programs…)

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3 Responses to “Crazy two weeks”

  1. Lock Picking Tools September 27, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    I agree with you lyyn, “Success at using “ooguisenshuken” in a conversation!”

  2. Dad September 27, 2010 at 7:57 pm #

    Hi Lynn.

    Finally satrted reading your blogs (9.27.10). I have never read blogs before. You are a very good (entertaining) writer!

    I love you and miss you. Had a nice breakfast with Austin yesterday in Lafayette.

    Dad

  3. Grace Benedict O'Brien September 29, 2010 at 12:21 am #

    Hi Lynn,

    You are courageous and strong….especially carrying all of those shopping bags!

    Love Mom

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