Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fieldtrip - Wellness Day

Today we got up bright and early, despite it being a Sunday, and went to school to join a fieldtrip to another of the university's campus, two hours away, where they held some kind of festival.

Less talk, more pictures:

Cat and her choco-banana.


The view from behind the school, situated on top of a mountain

Yours truly

A happy hula-kid with the school mascot in the background.
It's supposed to be a whale.
The bully in me wants to charge to tackle it.
It would've been so easy to make it fall over. Mwaha

Some hula-people

A kitty on the way home from school.
It didn't want to cuddle with me. Bu

Friday, September 25, 2009

Matriculation Cermony

Today we had a matriculation cermony at school. We had one class just before, which 50% of my dear classmates didn't show up for, as they somehow assumed we wouldn't be having classes today. But this Goody Two-Shoes didn't miss a thing! Well, our teacher kept keeping us in the classroom, even tough the cermony started at 11, and when we finally got to the venue, a bunched of stressed people dressed in suits escorted us to out seats. Catrine, Benedicte and I kept joking that this felt like in the movies were innocent people caught in a misunderstanding suddenly would be pushed on stage to give a speach, or something. But we were safe.

The cermony was pretty boring, as we didn't understand anything, which we're getting more and more used to. Not being able to understand what is going on around me and what is being said, makes me feel like a child again, and after an hour of long speeches and being told to stand up and bow to the important person holding a speach 1 billion time, we didn't exactly cry when they let us go. But matriculation cermonies seem to be an important tradition in Japan, and it was nice to be able to be a part of it.

When we walked out we recieved a small box with this rice and beans, which is the traditional "congratulations for entering university"-gift. I tasted it, and it was pretty good. The rice was pretty sticky and it was a little bit sweet, but mostly just starchy. The cafeteria lady was a bit shocked when I wanted to throw it, and I felt a bit bad for not knowing to treasure it enough.

Baaah, I look so Asian!

You need rice???!

Yesterday Wictoria, Benedicte, Cat and I went to a Chinese reastaurant after school. Starved and sick of bland Japanese food we went in the hopes of finding something to eat that actually had a decent flavour. This issue I seem to have gotten with Japanese food lately is really bugging me, since I'm normally not a picky eater at all.
Anyway, at this (kind of expensive) Chinese restaurant I ordered a sweet and sour dish with chicken. It arrived on a plate with a spoon, but without any rice in sight. I gave the lady a confused look and asked where the rice was, and she gave me a look like she'd just swallowed a fart and said "You need rice??", like it was the most stupidest question ever. Slightly (or very - low bloodsugar due to starvation equals low patience) annoyed I said "Yes, how can you eat this without rice?" - That would be like eating the ham and cheese without the piece of bread. Being raised by a Thai mom, she would have smacked me upside the head if I were to just eat the "with-rice", the meat and vegetables (the expensive stuff) without the rice (which makes you full). She kept nagging about "extra charge, extra charge", but I didn't care. I've never experienced this when eating at a Chinese restaurant before.
Is this really normal? Maybe I'm weird.

The parkinglot for bikes at school

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Snug as a bug

On Sunday we went back to Tokyo to buy some school necessities. I spent a small fortune on a electronic dictionary that, in addition to help me translate the kanjis (Chinese characters) when I'm trying to figure out how to use the washing machine, hopefully will be helpful at school. Which I don't doubt. I still lack a few textbooks and dictionaries, which they are supposed to be selling at the book store at school, but, surprise!, their not. I've considered buying them online at the Japanese Amazon site, and even managed to add all of the books I need to the shopping chart, but I chickened out, remembering that my Japanese skills still suck, and that I wouldn't be able to pull the order through. I need a Japanese friend! Or maybe a P.A.

I've been feeling restless these past few days. School hasn't really started yet, and I feel like I live in my own little bubble. My language skills sure hasn't improved any since my arrival. Japanese people seem to be so polite and serious all the time, never any contact-seeking. It makes me miss Thai people's warm and curious way of being, and how they are so much easier to make contact with, easily smitten by their seemingly love for life, despite their hardships.

In Tokyo Catrine and I went to a place called Nekobukuro (Cat Cafe) in Ikebukuro. Both of us loving cats, but currently not owning one at the moment due to our citizen-of-the-world life status, we thought we'd finally get to satisfy our needs to pet these fury creatures. It basically was an indoor area with a bunch of super spoiled, well groomed cats that were clearly used to having big and small hands poking and grabbing them all day. Unfortunately I did't get to fill my need to pick one up and carry it like a baby and snuggle it, as they elegantly bounced away from my slightly desperate, yet descreetly, attempt to grab one. Bummer.

Hey, look what I found belly-up, struggeling, on my balcony the other day when I was getting my laundry left out to dry. I figured it wasn't going to be too bad for my karma, not imidiately helping it turn around - since if I hadn't noticed it anyway, it would have probably still be lying there, frustrated, wiggling it's legs. So I went back in to get the camera and it had to endure a small photo shoot.

But then I did my duty and flipped it around. Now it's probably in the same condition at one of my neighbours balcony.

Today I've been reading for the test tomorrow. God knows the study-conditions sucks. We haven't gotten our student I.D's yet, so I can't access the library at school. *Sigh* The small desk they've provided for our apartments is the size of a postal stamp with a itty-bitty stool that won't fit my butt. And if I read on the bed I usually suffer the wellknown phenomenon of falling asleep.

Even tough classes haven't started for real yet, I at least think I like how I can depend on myself being the usual dutiful me, instead of relying on my non-existing self dicipline, when it comes to surving the classes. Lots and lots of tests and homework to come, yay!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Short trip to Chiba

Today Catrine and I went to Chiba, a short train ride from Togane. We're bored, we're in Japan, and we don't have classes until next Thursday.

We discovered this small park right by the train station in Togane

In Japan the areas were people cross the street are wide

We finally went and got our mandatory purikura-stickers done

Hey - a vending machine selling beer!

Chiba Folk Museum

Starving in Japan

Life in Togane is so much more comfortable on a bike
Ørrn - ØRRRRRN - ØRN !!!!
Yesterday we went to school to meet some of our teachers and get some information on the classes. They sure bable away in Japanese. Tsk, tsk. Boring stuff. Now, some pictures!

Japanese girls love to decorate their cellphones. This is my classmate,
Heidi's, creatively bedazzled one.



After school a bunch of us went to one of the local okonomiyaki joints for some lunch. Okonomiyaki is a kind of Japanese savoury pancake that you fry yourself on the table.

Lorraine and Benjamin

I didn't like it too much. The meat was greasy and the other stuff was bland. And the Japanese put mayo on everything! I'm starting to get tired of the bland Japanese food, always walking around feeling kind of hungry, craving something more satisfactory and tasteful. Bah.

Still hungry yesterday evening, I figured that I hadn't had sushi in Japan yet. So I finally went to the sushi restaurant across the road, whose costumers I've probably unintentionally flashed several times as it's in view from my balcony.

I managed to drag my friend, Catrine, who doesn't eat sushi, with me, as I needed her moral support. When we entered, all of the 10 staff people all battled to wish us welcome ("irrashaimaseeeee") using different tones. We were seated in front of the chefs preparing the sushi. Small plates in different colours indicating different price range with sushi were placed on this moving thing, so all of the dishes were parading in front of us, for us to grab whatever we wanted to eat.

Normally being pretty adventurous when it comes to food, even I was a bit sceptical. Especially when I tried a piece of squid sushi and it was all slimey and impossible to chew. Keeping my best friend, Anette's, story about a big plate of grose kidney stew at a ex-boyfriend's-parents-house dinner in mind, i finally managed to swallow a big piece whole, in lack of a napkin, flushing it down with some green tea.

The other sushi was pretty good, I'm just not quite able to distinguish quality sushi yet. I'll probably go back there soon, but I'll stay away from the raw squid.

Green tea

Thursday, September 17, 2009

When in Rome..

Togane City is full of restaurants, of course mostly Japanese, usually specializing in one dish, i.e tonkatsu (breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet), yakitori (barbecued, skewered chicken), ramen (noodle dish), etc., but also a few Italian. Eating out is pretty cheap, around 500-1000 Yen (30-60 NOK). Still, being "poor" Norwegian students on a tight budget, eating out every day can be be an intimidating thought、so sometimes we try to make our meals at home. I don't really know if we're saving any money on it, though.
I walk around in the giant Japanese supermarkets, noticing how all of the fruit and vegetables neatly stacked are completely identical. Everything is so fresh in colour, flawless and has the same size. It is scary. I wonder about all of the chemicals I'm unknowingly eating.

Yesterday my good friend, neighbor and classmate Catrine and I made Japanese curry. Well, I didn't do so much of the cooking, but I was great moral support. Seeing it was the first time any of us made this dish, we had fun trying to read the package, which was completely impossible, due to our still pretty shitty Japanese skills. We ended up just looking at the pictures, but it turned out pretty good.

The fabulous cook

The awesome moral support

Cartboard boxes make excellent funiture

Today, Catrine and I bought new bicycles that costed almost 9000 Yen (550 NOK). The school is supposed to let us rent them from a company, but it is taking ages because they don't have enough of them (..?). So we figured we'd just go to the store and by them ourselves. You really need a bicycle to get anywhere in a city like Togane. Now we can also use our bikes to get to school, taking around 30 minutes, and saving the train fare money.
Well, I haven't been on a bike since elementary school, so I feel like a kid again. Now I also remember that I am completely talentless on a bike, so I'll probably wind up dying in some accident. Oh, well.

Try figuring out this washing maschine!

Alcohol in this country is unfortunately insanely cheap
A bunch of us went to karaoke yesterday. We paid 3500 Yen (220 NOK) to drink all we want and to have a karaoke room until closing time at 5 a.m. The cheap drink-all-you-want-concept is never good around a bunch of Norwegian students. *Shakes head*

Monday, September 14, 2009

First day at school

Today we went to campus to take a placement test before the classes really begin. It was the same test as they give to the seniors - who's been studying Japanese a year longer, so naurally there was a lot of stuff on the test we're not supposed to know yet. Some people in my class still tend to freak out, but I think it's a matter of having a bit of self insight; what we've learned, we know - what we haven't learned, we don't know. No reason to make a big fuss about it.

Akiko-san! On the train station on our way to school we ran into one of our teachers from our first semester back home in Norway. I think she is working on her master's degree in pedagogic.

Benedicte - one of my classmates


The library

Tomorrow we're going back for an orientation. I think they'll inform us on the different subjects we can choose, in addition to the mandatory ones, and also about the different "clubs" on campus. I still don't know when the classes start. Someone said Friday.
The campus is pretty desserted. Most people are still on their summer break. Despite being an international university, most of the foregin students seem to come from Asia. A lot of people from the Philippines and Korea. The Norwegians are the only western people around, except for this one Hawaiian girl and a Spanish girl that took the test together with us today.

After school Lotte and I went to a Tonkatsu joint not so far form my house for some lunch.

Ramen - the lunch yesterday. Today's tonkatsu was very good, but fortunately not photogentic enough.

Daniel and the can of Fanta I bought yesterday. It said "Fanta world - Grapefruit", but it was full of Jell-O! I really liked it, but it was a bit difficult to "eat", trying to suck the Jell-O out of the small hole, I winded up choking on a piece.

Two cutiepies on their way home frome school