Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fall in Japan


Fall has more or less arrived in Japan. The leaves have changed colour and it is slowly getting colder. Mind you, it's half way through October and some days we can still wear t-shirts outside.

We're starting to get used to our schedules at school, having two or three classes five days a week, each class being 90 minutes long. We have four different subjects, which all, of course, is taught in Japanese.

Intermediate Japanese - Japanese grammar were we also are being tested every day, alternating between either vocabulary or kanji (Chinese characters). A couple of times a month we have a bigger test reviewing new grammar, vocabulary and kanji.

Litterature - this has so far mainly been going through different texts where we gain somewhat insight in current Japanese society.

Rengo - Japanese idiomatic phrases. Our teacher seemingly has ADD and spends a lot of time procrastinating. And beatboxing. And pantomiming.

- Preparation for Japanese Language Proficiency Test that we're going to take in December, I think.

Most of the grammar is a repitition of what we learned last year - which I think is a pity. Some times I fear this semester will be a waste - feeling that what we've doing here we might has well be doing at home in Norway. I guess we're supposed to be focusing on putting what we've already learned out there, and whatnot, but it's not that easy making Japanese friends - especially since we're more than 20 Norwegians going to the same school and living close to each other, we tend to stick together, while at the same time the Japanese people seem to be very shy.

Besides, I don't really like the environment at university that much, I think. In Japan, when you are attending university you're still a child. It seems like you get this "one shot" at getting an education and most of the students seem to be around 18-19 years old. Josai International University, as far as I know, is one of the not so many universities in Japan where you don't have to take an entrance exam - which I imagine is attracting lazy, uninspired Japanese kids. Sometimes I feel like I'm back in junior high - where kids, who haven't yet found their own identity, stribe after being a clone of each other, the guys playfighting and showing off, and girls spending the entire lunch break putting on makeup, giving newcomers the stink eye.

It might not be as bad as I make it sound like, but I'm a bit conscious about it. I want to be around ambitious adults who give me inspiration, not children whose perception of "studying English at the university" is being at the "this is a ball", "I like the colour blue" level.

Maybe I'm too harsh and have too high expectations.

Sometimes I feel a bit claustrofobic. Like I'm on this one big fieldtrip with a bunch of people I don't get along with, stuck in a small town while the rest of the world is moving on. I miss being alone and lonely in crazy Bangkok, feeling like I'm challenging myself, not unwillingly being a part of this flock of sheep. But I guess this is a challenge too.


Yesterday was my birthday and Cat, Benedicte and I went to this newly discovered Thai restaurant not far from the school. God knows we had a small struggle getting there, as we took the directions we'd recieved a bit too literally - as we had been told to stay on one side of the train tracks in order to find the restaurant, we winded up biking around on muddy roads in the middle of paddy fields in the pitch dark. But it was actually a bit funny and made it all more memorable.

I had a bowl of Tom Kha Gai, a spicy soup made with coconut milk, galangal, lemon grass and chicken and Som Tam, a spicy papaya salad, with sticky rice.

I liked the food, as it was pretty authentic Thai. The small restaurant is run by a Thai lady who's been living in Japan for more than 17 years. It was nice to get to speak Thai again too.

Today we were finally assigned speaking partners, yay! I was so luck (karma) to get a couple of really sweet and outgoing girls, and hope to be spending a lot of time with them and getting to practice my Japanese.

Yui-san and Miku-san


gee said...

Happy birthday, lil sis!!

Benedicte said...

I feel quite the same thing as you do about the stay here. But as you say it's a different kind of challenge perhaps.
I'd love to learn how to make that thai salad thing, do you know where i can find a recipie for it?
aww lucky (karma )you who go awesome speaking partners. :O I hope the girl i haven't met yet is nice, thought im' not looking forward to calling here on the phone just like that. >.<