*Rember you can click on images for a larger pictureSchool is Almost Out!
I've been super busy lately with final exams, final papers, part-time jobs, and (let's not forget) enjoying Japan. I only have Adjusting to Japan tomorrow and then classes are officially done for the semester. I still have a final paper to write for my Gender Studies, Representations of Crime and Justice, and Japanese Life Through Tea Ceremony classes, which have due dates ranging from this coming Friday to the 19th. My 2-month long spring break is coming though! I can almost taste the free time.
I finished all of my Japanese exams! I'm so relieved to have those over with. I've been studying so much lately it's nice to not have to worry about those anymore. I feel like they went well for the most part. The speaking class's interview exam was today. Like pretty much all students, I get extremely nervous when having to speak to a Japanese instructor one-on-one, especially knowing it's for a final grade in the class. As expected I fumbled around with practically every sentence, but I made it through it. It wasn't horrible, and the other portion of the exam, my oral presentation, went extremely well, so I'm not too worried about my grade.
The general Japanese course's exam wasn't too much trouble. There were a few questions on there that I was a bit unsure of, but I studied like crazy for it and feel fairly confident I did well. As long as I get a B for the class I can pass onto the next level without having to take a placement exam before the next semester starts.
Toyota and Fish Ov...well, you'll see.
Last weekend I visited a Toyota assembly plant. Unfortunately picture taking was prohibited inside the plant so I don't have any to post. It was an interesting experience though, and it was really cool seeing the vehicles being built.
Afterward we visited a Mentaiko plant. Mentaiko （明太子） is, brace yourself, the fully ripe internal ovaries of the Pollock fish. It is a popular food invented and made famous here in Fukuoka, often eaten with rice or just plain with sake. There are lots of different kinds of Mentaiko tastes ranging from plain to spicy （辛子明太子）. I tried some and it wasn't bad. Not good, really. I'm sure, like many things peculiar to Japan (or any culture for that matter), it is an acquired taste.
In the last post I mentioned that I had put up an ad making myself available for English conversation practice. Well, I've met with 5 different people already. The first two that I met with haven't rescheduled for a second meeting yet, unfortunately. Last Friday I met with two women at the same time and so made 2,000 yen for the same amount of work (if you can call it that...it's just conversation). I gave them a discount since it wasn't actually more work, but I still made out the better for it. They've rescheduled for this Friday as well.
One man I meet with regularly: every Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. He's a 60 year old, Toyota retiree. He was born and raised in Fukuoka but lived and worked in Nagoya for decades. He studied in Ohio ages ago and has been steadily studying and keeping up on English ever since. He's a very interesting person and, because his English is so good, we have really great conversations, usually about American politics or my experience in Japan. He also reads English newspapers and highlights any sentence he's struggling with or expressions he can't quite grasp so I can look them over. Sometimes the sentences are apparently mistypes and others are English idioms that have no direct translation and so are naturally difficult to understand to non-native speakers. It's fun trying to explain them though and really gets me thinking about how complicated English must be for learners.
I'm in the process of applying for a work permit. Not for the English conversation "job", but for an actual legitimate part-time job I'll be doing here at Kyushu University. The school is in the process of rewriting the script for the JTW orientation video. It's being written by the staff so it's in Japanese. They needed someone to handle three tasks,
1. Translate the script into English,
2. Record the narration for the video, and
3. Reformat the content for use on the website
Professor Pollack recommended me to Kaku-sensei for the job. I interviewed today and it looks like I'll be making a little extra cash over spring break! Originally they were planning on having two students work on the project, but the other person is going to be in France during break. So, I asked Kaku-sensei if I should let any of the other students know about the job and contact him if they were interested. He said, "We're okay with you for now. We need someone with a beautiful voice." Haha! Maybe I'll become a narrator full-time! :)
I'll be making the equivalent of around $10/hour. I was told the hours are extremely flexible so I doubt this little bit of extra work is going to ruin my vacation by any means.
Plans for Vacation
Speaking of vacation: we have unconfirmed plans to take a road trip to Hiroshima! Takafumi, my tutor, just got his driver's license and offered to drive a few of us. I'm really looking forward to getting out of Fukuoka, since I haven't had much chance to since the beginning of the program when we went to Kumamoto and Mt. Aso. The commercial was in Nagasaki, but I felt like I was in Holland so it doesn't really count as another Japanese locale!! ;)
I've been saving as much money as I can from the work I've been doing. I've been desperately needing an electronic dictionary （電子辞書） since I came here and was planning on getting one soon. But, I think a better purchase would be an i-Pod Touch. The smallest size is the same price as a dictionary and it has an application that does everything a good electronic dictionary can do, plus a flashcard program so I can study on-the-go. And...it's an i-Pod Touch! Right?
So, as long as I can afford it without starving I'm going to pick one up soon. It will help my Japanese studies immensely and will be indispensable for this translation job.
My goal during this almost 2-month long vacation is to study Japanese like crazy. I'm not going to allow myself a single day that I'm not working on something Japanese. I'm especially going to focus on vocabulary and kanji. I'm planning on getting through the JLPT 2級 test prep book I purchased a few weeks ago. I'm also going to start going through the Remembering the Kanji books. In another month JTW will be half over and it just hit me how much I want to have gotten really good at Japanese by the time I return home. これから頑張ります！
A WHAT Musical?
My friend Saki got tickets to see "Gay Musical", showing on the 17th of this month. I literally know nothing about it, but c'mon, how could I pass up a show with a title like that. If we can get 25 people in our group the tickets go from 4,500 yen to 1,800 yen. She thinks we'll be able to so I'm excited. It's supposed to be an extremely funny show. I'll write a review once I've seen it.
Birthday Bowling Bash!
My buddy Marc just turned 21 and a bunch of us gathered for bowling at a local alley. It was a blast! My first roll of the night was a strike. I didn't stay too consistent though. I played a couple decent games. Marc managed to get a single-pin spare after the ball went into the gutter. I was actually filming the roll and, after I saw that the ball was "in now way" going to knock over the remaining pin, I turned the camera away only to see Marc's ecstatic reaction as the ball somehow hits the pin anyway. I'd upload the video but...it takes too long for how poor the video quality is on Blogger. It's on my Facebook page if you have an account. If not, you'll just have to wait until July when I come back. Instead, here are a few pics from that night.
(The birthday boy)
(Me, Elaine, and Jack)
Well, that's about it for now. Oh, I decided to let my beard grow out again. Sorry to disappoint all of you who prefer a baby-faced Chris. C'mon now, I lasted a couple of weeks! I'm basically doing the opposite now: I'm not shaving at all. Well, slight trimming when necessary but we'll see how long this bad boy can get. As soon as it starts making Japanese kids cry and yell ビッグフット at me, I'll shave...or whenever I feel like it. It's my face.
Here's the progress so far. I look angry because the light is in my eyes. I'm happy so no worries.
Leave me some comments if you feel so inclined. I love hearing from you guys :)
I miss you!!!