Sunday, January 22, 2012

End of Semester: Final, Fun, and Farewells

Now where did I leave off… Ah, right, the weekend before the final. I know there was meant to be studying, but I’m not sure how much of that I actually did. I feel like a lot of nothing happened that weekend. Monday and Tuesday we had regular class, finishing up what we were meant to learn for the semester and doing some review as well. Our sakubun from the previous week was returned, and any tests we had taken the previous week were also given back to us. I did well on everything, even the strange sakubun story, hooray! Other than that, all I really remember about the few nights before the final was that I was a total wreck, with no idea how I would be able to remember all the kanji or study the readings for the final. It didn’t help that it was a bad time to be a girl those days, either. I can probably blame my worrying so much on that, in all honesty.

The day of the final came at last, and I was still terribly worried that I would not do well. I was unable to study at all the previous night, I was so stressed out. Despite having not studied very much, that whole morning I wished it would be time for the test already. The waiting was driving me insane.

Just like with the midterm, the final began with sakubun. This time we had to write about something or someone for which/whom we were thankful. I chose to write about my Pop Pop, because he really is wonderful, and I am so grateful to have his support while I am here in Japan. He is always there with a helping hand; I don’t know what I would do without him. Normally the sakubun section would really drain me of my energy, but that particular one actually made me feel much better to write. Maybe it was because it reminded me that I need to put more effort into my work here, if only because my family does so much for me to stay. ^^

The sakubun was followed by the listening section, which I thought was okay at the time. I have since learned that my grade was not as good as I thought it would be, but it wasn’t terrible either. I managed to mostly breeze through the reading section, leaving nothing blank, which was a great improvement from the midterm. Next up was grammar, bunpou, and that was the easiest part of all. When I finished, I must have gone over the double-sided sheet four more times to make sure there were no obvious errors. It confused me that I still had time left, but I tried to wait patiently for the last portion of the final to begin. I was pumped and ready for the kanji section, so much that leaving a few blanks did not even faze me. I knew that once I turned in that sheet of paper, I would be free from tests for three weeks! I all but bolted out of the room when I finished and skipped down the stairs to join the other students there and wait for everyone else. When joined by the others from my class, we all agreed that the final was not as difficult as we thought it would be.

We hung around for awhile to chat and confirm our plans for the night before heading to the 8th floor to attend the end of the semester ceremony for those US students who were leaving KCP. Duke, Jil, and I went to show our support for our friends, specifically Zach, Jason, and Ashley. There were several other students, too, and each of them had to give a speech. Many of them had a difficult time with it, but they did their best, and I hope they are able to continue their studies back home. ^^ My favorite speech was definitely Zach’s. XD In his speech, he declared that our class had four teachers, not three. The forth one was Duke, haha! Or “Mashuu-sensei,” as all the other students, and even some of the teachers, call him (Mashuu being the Japanese pronunciation of the name Mathieu). Teachers and staff gave speeches as well during the little ceremony. Those were rather entertaining, especially Michiko-san’s introductory word, “hi”. She’s so great. XD One of the students used the term “level up” in her speech, and so some of the teachers took to using that to describe the students’ progress in Japanese. Hilarious. XD

When everyone finished, there were snacks, and students and teachers conversed for awhile. I was finally able to talk somewhat normally with Anraku-sensei! ^-^ I still felt rather nervous around her, but I was able to communicate everything I wanted to say. On a random, silly note, at some point I heard my name in another conversation, one between Michiko-san and Duke. I asked what was being said about me, and the dummy had the nerve to say “nothing”. I called him out on the lie, and he admitted to it but still wouldn’t tell me what they were saying. I have since found out that Anraku-sensei asked Michiko-san to ask Duke if he and I were dating. I found it highly amusing that she was curious enough to have someone else ask for her. To answer any potential questions about this, his answer was no. XP In any case, we had some snacks (Jil and I had cake with strawberries on top :D), and after a short while we were on our way to celebrate the end of the semester in our own way! ^^

First, as per popular vote by the guys, we went to Shakey’s for all you can eat pizza. That was such a bad idea. There were too many of us, so we were split into two groups. And by two groups I mean Duke and I sat downstairs, and everyone else fit together upstairs. -_-; When we discovered that two people would be separate from the group, it was clear I would be one of them. The question was whether Jil or Duke would be sitting with me. We stood around asking each other who was sitting where for a few minutes before deciding that we were being a nuisance and should just sit down already. Thus, we took our seats and ate some pizza. Much to my dismay, I was not able to eat more than a few slices. I did finish my soda, though. XD

After Shakey’s, a few people left the group, and those of us who were left went to an Izakaya (Caitlin, Jay, Jason, Matt, Duke, Jil, and myself). We spent a lot of time there, having a few drinks and appetizers. Some of the group had eaten too much at Shakey’s and felt a little ill after drinking, and we decided never to combine the two in the same night again. I hadn’t eaten too much, so I stuffed my face with fries and tried a couple of different drinks. While we hung out and talked, a really terrible drama (read: soap opera) played on the television near our table. The acting was so bad that we couldn’t help but make fun of it, and Duke informed us that his host family watched the show. Haha! Perhaps more interesting than that, though, was the rowdy group of Japanese people sitting a few tables over from us. They drank quite a bit, it seemed, as they stumbled and dropped things, laughing loudly throughout all of it. We got a good laugh out of that, ourselves.

The Izakaya was far from being the end of the night! After that, Jay returned to the dorm, but the rest of us went out for all night karaoke! XD Best all night karaoke ever. And it was the last one we got to have with Jason. We sang soooooooo many great songs; I only wish we had these kinds of karaoke places back home the way Japan does. We sang more songs in English than usual this time around: Caitlin picked a few Lady Gaga songs, I think. I did a Bowling for Soup song, myself. XD Caitlin’s only Japanese song was “If You’re Happy and You Know It” in Japanese. (Random funny note: Microsoft Word wanted me to change “you’re” to “you is”. I am appalled. XD) It was great. Of course, we were all ridiculously exhausted by 5am, and we slowly trudged back toward the dorm.

I crawled into my bed at about 6am, still in my coat, and slept until somewhere between 10 and 11am. I immediately jumped up to get ready to see off Jil and Duke, who were headed home that day. By the time I was up and out the door, Duke had already arrived at the dorm from his host family’s house. It wasn’t long before Jil came down with her suitcase, and it was time to go. We were joined by two other students who were leaving that day as well. I walked along with them, helping carry a suitcase. I ended up travelling all the way to the airport with them, despite it being about a 1.5 hour trip. I wanted to go, because I knew it would be awhile before I could see Jil and Duke again. Also, it allowed me to see how I would get to where I needed to go for my trip with Jess to South Korea. The goodbyes were sad, as they tend to be, and I sulked back to the train to return to my dorm room.

I sat on the train, bored out of my mind for the whole ride. I had brought along my DS to play a game, but even that wasn’t entertaining me. When I did get back to the dorm, I was fairly tired. I waved to Jess, and the “new” guys in the dorm. They were already students at KCP, but they switched living arrangements to the Ikebukuro dorm, and that turned out to be their move-in day. I chatted for a little bit with them before retiring to my room. I ate for the first time all day (it was about 6pm, I think), and my stomach was certainly grateful for the food. I don’t really remember doing much else that night, but I went to bed early for some much needed rest.

That’ll be all for this post. I’ll add more later!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Last Week of Classes, Fall '11

Ah, the last full week of classes. It was, of course, full of tests. Thank you, KCP. Monday I first had a kanji quiz, another one that I aced. My speech was to be first on Monday, but Kataoka-sensei allowed us to do something else first, kanji, I believe. Once that was over, though, I had no choice but to get up and do my speech. I put on my cat-eared hat, grabbed my sketchbook, and dragged my feet to the front of the room. Once up there, though, it wasn’t so bad. I was able to remember my speech (we had to completely memorize it), and my voice was loud enough to be heard. According to some student reviews, there was a point where I spoke a little quickly, but it went really well overall. My speech was about my adventure in Japan and how I plan to draw a manga illustrating all the insane and interesting happenings in my time here. I explained a few of the potential things I would include, such as karaoke madness, silly conversations with classmates, and my invention of Nyanko no Hikouki. I plan to eventually color the pictures I drew to go along with said speech, and I will make sure I draw more for the manga!

Jil, Junso-san, and Outou-san also had their speeches on Monday. They all seemed a bit nervous, but it went pretty well. ^^ Junso-san didn’t quite remember all of his, poor guy. We practiced our speeches together, so I already knew what his would be about. He spoke of the importance of having all kinds of different experiences (he warned against bad/illegal experiences, which was fairly amusing). Jil’s speech was about the violin, which may be her favorite thing ever. ^^ She loves playing the violin; I hope she gets to bring it back with her, so we can all hear her play! As for Outou-san… ah, right. His speech was about the “mou ichido” tests. Meaning “one more time”, these are retake tests offered to students who fail a test the first time. So, speech out of the way, I was finally able to relax (rirakkusu being the word transcribed to Japanese) as Kataoka-sensei had been telling me to all day. She’s sweet, but she didn’t realize how difficult that was.

Tuesday… a week and a day before finals, and Konno-sensei had us do another sakubun! So mean. This time we had to write (read: attempt) a short story on one page of composition paper with the same opening line. That first sentence basically translated to “Today it is raining.” Great opener, guys. In any case, I wrote down the worst nonsense I’ve ever written. Here’s a terrible synopsis: It was raining. I had plans with a friend after school, but I decided to skip out and go home because of the rain. On the way, though, a body fell from the sky and hit the concrete in front of me. I screamed and ran as fast as I could toward my house but stopped short when I saw the very person who fell, and supposedly died, standing in front of me. Then I woke up, and it was all a dream. I have no idea what spawned such a terrible story, but we only had one page to write, and I wanted to freak out the teacher. Apparently, it worked. XD When we got them back again, there was a note saying she was glad it was a dream because it was scary. So funny.

Wednesday, another test. Grammar this time. I know I got a good grade on it, but can’t remember exactly what it was. It was our last class with Okada-sensei, as he only taught us on Wednesdays, and the following one was the final. I don’t remember too much about class that day, but afterward, Jil and Duke had their oral exams for the semester. This is only for US program students. Each student is assigned a time slot to have a conversation with a teacher who isn’t one of their regulars. Jil was scheduled for 5pm and Duke for 5:15. I waited in the lounge with a coffee and attempted to do homework. Failed. There were some students from a higher level in the lounge, and I ended up talking with them. It was fun. ^^ Jil returned, and she thought she did okay on her exam. Jess was there for a bit too, and I believe she said she had Saitou-sensei, and that it went well. Duke returned to say that he had fun speaking with the teacher.

Thursday was my turn for the oral exam. I was a bit of a nervous wreck during class, I have to admit. I was convinced I would be paired with a certain teacher who didn’t think I belonged in level 3 at the beginning of the semester. Luckily, that was not the case. I spoke with a teacher I did not know, Takahashi-sensei. She was very kind, and I hope I did well. I felt like certain questions were rather difficult to answer in either Japanese or English. Then there came a point where she told me to ask her questions. I had no idea what to ask. I went with something simple like what her favorite part about teaching is. I asked some other questions, but I don’t really remember what they were. I was too frazzled for that. When it was finally over, I excused myself and ran downstairs to the lobby. Duke and Jil waited for me, even though I told them they didn’t have to do that. XP I thanked them, though, and I think I ended up with another soda. -_-;;;

Friday was the last test of the week, wooooo. Being as I’ve slacked off on this blog of mine over break, I seem to have forgotten what happened in class that day… x.x If I find any info in my notebook later, I’ll add it. After class… well, we returned to the dorm to drop things off, etc. Then Duke and I went out to eat at Saizeriya’s. We chatted about random things, whatever came to mind, really. Dinner was great, but I was unable to finish my pasta. I was so sad about that. XD We finished dinner with far too much time before the movie we planned to go see, so the two of us walked around Sunshine City for a little while. I do believe we stopped in the Book Off there to look around for CDs and the like. I bought a couple souvenirs for friends back home (not telling what or for whom XP).

Book Off was followed by the movie theater. ^^ We saw Real Steel with Hugh Jackman; it was a cute movie. Pretty silly for the most part. We had fun reading the Japanese subtitles to see how the lines were translated to Japanese. XD Some of the translation was a bit amusing. It was also pretty great that the kid in the movie used a few Japanese words at one point. Took everything I had not to burst into laughter. It was accurate Japanese, but too funny that the movie used it. XD We had a good time, even without getting giant sodas and popcorn. Well, reason for that was they weren’t available: popcorn was prepackaged, and sodas were bottled, I think. So we decided against that. Once the movie was finished, we headed back to the dorm. I grabbed Duke’s book bag from the common room, as it was after 10, meaning he wasn’t allowed inside. He had to go home to his host family then, so I went upstairs to see Jil and then head to my own room.

All who want to hit me for my terrible storytelling here, I laugh at you because you cannot. XD And for anyone who wants to complain about it, send me an email, and I will read it and likely laugh still. But I will respond. XD

That’s all for now. I’ll try to catch up to this semester soon.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Week I Might Not Have Forgotten... Too Bad About Wednesday

It’s been so long since I’ve updated this. Sorry, everyone. Where did I leave off? Ah, yes, I should be on Saturday, December 3rd. One problem there. I can’t remember too much of what happened between the 3rd and the 11th. About that whole taking notes thing… I took some, but I didn’t date everything. So for now we’ll just say that week happened. I can remember a few tidbits, I believe, so I will include them here.

One out of those two Saturdays, the 3rd, was the day the Matt-tachi and Jason took the JLPT. It was another rainy Saturday, so I decided not to go on the final culture class trip. I still didn’t have proper shoes for that kind of weather. By the time the boys were finished the exams, the rain had ended, and we all decided to go out to eat in celebration. We went to the Indian curry place again, with “we” including those three, Jay, Jess, Jil, and myself. We had a lot of fun, and I was able to finish my meal that time. That made me really happy, as it was pretty good food. The service was just as excellent as the last time, too. The people there are so very nice. ^^ They gave us extra drinks and some cheese naan. At the end, some were having difficulty finishing their nan, so a large chunk was handed to Matt (the US one). He made the best face as he bit into it and cried, “Nooooooooo,” because he was already full. It was highly entertaining, and there may be a picture of that face somewhere. XD

As for Sunday the 4th, I don’t remember too much about what I actually did that day. I think I stayed inside for most of it, though. That morning I did tell Gotou-san I would be getting a package, and it happened to arrive later that same day. x.x Talk about timing. I was in my room when someone rang my bell, so I picked up the phone to see who it was. It was the delivery guy! I wasn’t sure exactly what to say to him, so I just answered his question affirmatively and ran to the door. I signed for the big box and thanked him for bringing it all the way up the stairs for me. ^^ And thanks again, mom, for the package! Extra clothes that I should have brought to begin with, a new pair of boots, a coat, and tons of shampoo and conditioner! So helpful! Oh, and my umbrella, too; it’s nice to have, considering the one I bought here was taken. Also, let’s not forget the nail polish Aunt Lisa sent for my teacher (that was so sweet. I think she really likes it). As I was unpacking everything, Jess had gotten back from purchasing tickets for Disney with the other girls, so I gave her the PJs ma sent for her. She likes them very much, she says. ^^

On to the week. Monday… I can’t remember Monday for the life of me, except that whoever was available for the song class took part in a practice for a very odd event on Wednesday. Tuesday we had Konno-sensei again, and it was during that class that she gave out the schedule for our speeches. Duke was to go on the first day, Friday. As soon as Konno-sensei announced it, he turned to me and said, “I called it.” Ever since he had accepted to be one of the MCs for Wednesday’s event, he knew his week would be made even busier. We were to have the 楽しみ会 (which translates literally to “fun meeting”) on Wednesday, a test Wednesday, a test Friday, and then the speech for Duke on Friday. It was shaping up to be a hectic week. I raised my hand and explained his situation to Konno-sensei, and she laughed as she realized how busy he’d be. She offered for me to switch my Monday slot with his, but then I’d have been in the same boat. He insisted that he’d be fine and didn’t need anyone to switch with him. Stubborn fool doesn’t know when he’s got too much on his plate.

Wednesday was a day I could have done without, if we’re being honest. I was not looking forward to singing the insanely slow, lengthy song that Saitou-sensei asked us of the song class to perform. I would have preferred a more energetic piece, but it was what it was. I didn’t mind watching/listening to the other performances, though. I especially enjoyed a piece done on an instrument I’ve never seen before. I have been informed it is called an Erhu. It was a stringed instrument, but there was only one string (I thought it was one string, but according to wiki it has two). There was also a bow, like for a violin or cello, but this little instrument was not at all shaped like either of those. The bottom end was very small and rather circular in shape. It was one of the most amazing things I’d ever seen, and the student played ridiculously well. ^^

Unfortunately, the song class did eventually have to sing. I didn’t like having the sheet of lyrics, as I had done my best to memorize them, but I suppose it was just as well. We moved to our places as the MCs gave our intro, which was a lie, by the way. Whoever wrote that part said that we’d been practicing for three months. One, the class didn’t start three months prior, nor were many of us even in the country at that point. It was two months. Two, we were told about that event two weeks in advance, and we were only given our song one week in advance. There was essentially no practice. But I digress… We sang the song, and then had to sing Jingle Bells. It was only the chorus, but I may never want to hear that song again. Finally, the event was over, and there was a little bit of time before class. Rather than study for our test, Jil and I remained on the 8th floor as she played the piano for a few minutes. It was fun. After that we did run off to our class and take the test. Don’t remember what chapters were on that one, but I got at least a 90. ^^

Thursday… again I don’t remember too much. Oh, but that day, and the few before, during class we had to practice our speeches with a partner. My partner was none other than Junso-san. I think these were the only times he didn’t tease me, probably because he was just as frightened to do a speech as everyone else was.

Friday we took another test, and the first three speeches were given. Mokuhou-san had to start the line. Poor girl was nervously laughing like crazy before she started speaking, and for a second it looked like she was gonna take off into the hall. Duke brought up the idea that perhaps these students never had to speak in front of a class before. Most of the US students are used to things like that, but if the Koreans and Chinese students never had to, it’s no wonder so many of them were really nervous. In any case, she ended up doing okay once she got started. For every speech, each student had to fill out a small sheet scoring the speaker on grammar, content, and performance (such as whether or not they brought visuals). I gave her a good score because she was first. ^^ Duke was second. He stood up there and spewed lies about Canada, and Konno-sensei was about to fall over laughing. I couldn’t look at him or listen, for fear I might also laugh. It was so bad. I should’ve given him a zero for being a liar, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that. x.x He had a ton of pics, the content was all lies, but they were funny lies, and the grammar was accurate. And he wasn’t nervous, or didn’t show it at least. I think Teyan-san was third. He forgot part of his speech and asked the kid sitting next to his desk for help. XD It was pretty hilarious.

Saturday… Right, during the day on Saturday, I hung out alone in the lounge on my computer. Chatted on IRC, talked to mom, and maybe got some studying done. For lunch I had McDonalds. The walk back from that was entertaining. I was walking beneath an overpass, singing along to my ipod when I heard some really bad, high note from above me. A group of Japanese boys, likely high schoolers, were grinning at me. I smiled at them and continued on my way. Thinking back on it, I should’ve waved too. Or said hi, haha. It would’ve been pretty entertaining. Ah well, it made me laugh anyway. After my meal I began to draw in my sketch book so I would have pictures to bring in for my speech on Monday. There are three really funny pictures that I’ll have to somehow scan eventually. X.x During my drawing, though, I fell asleep with the book in my lap.

I woke up to Duke entering the room; he had come over as per usual. Itunes was still playing on my computer, and no one else had come down to hang out. We chatted for awhile, and I tried to nap at some point. Failed, by the way. Just as well, we had fun talking, and I showed him the ridiculous drawings I made for my speech. I think his favorite is Nyanko no Hikouki; yes, I drew a picture of me in a chibi form with my kitty ears hat and waving my arms. I will show everyone at some point. So we went out and got curry for dinner, I think. Brought it back to the lounge to eat and watch more episodes of HunterxHunter. It was fun. ^^ I can’t remember if I finished my curry all by myself or not. o.o Frequently, I can’t finish my food. My stomach is so tiny. Luckily, I hang out with enough hungry boys that it never goes to waste. XD

At ten it was time to leave the lounge again. I decided to walk with Duke to the Book Off where he bought a volume of a manga for his host sister, Chiyo, for her birthday that was coming up that week. He could’ve gotten on a train there, but apparently I can’t get back to the dorm by myself. (Yes, mom, I know you will be annoyed at that statement. I didn’t walk back alone, so don’t kill me.) By the time we got back, I was warm and actually enjoying the cool air. I wanted to go for a walk, so we decided that I would walk with Duke to the Ikebukuro station instead. We passed the vending machine with the pepsi, and I won that round by preventing him from buying one. XP Then he realized he left some books in the lounge, so we headed back to see if the room was still open. Again, I blocked the soda machine. Heh. We were on the brick path close to the dorm when Duke remembered that there was a lunar eclipse that night. It was pretty cool. Like geeks, we sat and watched for a few minutes, until being reminded of the need to grab Duke’s books. We ran into Gotou-san on the way back, and I asked her if I could go get said books. She opened the door for me, and I grabbed them and took them back to Duke. He didn’t live at the dorm, so he wasn’t allowed in after ten. He finally went home, and I walked up the stairs only to stop and stare at the eclipse a bit longer. It was really cool. ^^

So, I remembered a lot more than I thought I did. ^^ I’m gonna go to bed now, though, so I’ll include Sunday next time… if I can remember Sunday. XD On second thought, I can't remember Sunday. It's just kind of mixed up with Saturday a little in my mind, so I'm not really sure about that. I'll just start with Monday next time.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What Happens at the Museum Stays at the Museum

November 24, Thursday, happened. I seem to be unable to remember much from that day, though. I feel like the whole day I was just hoping for the weekend, and sighing at the thought of another day in between. I love class, don’t get me wrong, but the weekends are just so much fun that I find myself looking forward to them more and more. Friday was fun, thanks to Konno-sensei, but again my memory is failing me. I’m really doing a terrible job of jotting things down as they happen. I’ll have to get better at that.

More on the Pepsi wars, and I’m not sure if it is chronologically accurate to include this here, but it’s funny, so whatever. I had a fabulous win by placing one 100yen coin in each of the pockets of Duke’s jacket. How? I was told to borrow it again, as I’m always freezing. It was a great success. Of course I had to start losing again, though. One night, likely Friday, Duke enlisted the help of Matt (Jil knew too) to sneakily place a Pepsi in front of my door with 500yen sitting underneath. The reason… I was trying to give him a 500yen coin all night, probably for all the soda he’s paid for thus far. Only, I did not succeed in giving him said money, so he gave me way too much. I told him he had to take his 500yen back the next day, as he would be at the dorm anyway. Thankfully, he accepted that condition. Sigh.

As for Saturday, I went to the bakery for breakfast and to attempt a bit of studying. It was another bakery trip with Duke, not a race this time. We decided that was a bad idea. I think that punk paid for my food too, as I didn’t think to grab a tray before telling him what I planned on eating. At least it was only one thing. So I did get some kanji studying/homework finished, but we didn’t stay long. Heading back to the dorm, I think I ended up with another soda. Really, this guy shouldn’t feed my Pepsi gluttony.

That day was mostly an all day hang out again. Some homework was done, but mostly we were having fun just talking. We need to turn these talks into Japanese more, haha. Oh, that night my first real package came. A big thanks to aunt Kathleen for that! I promise I’m sharing the candy! ^^ Even gave some to friends I only see at school. Junso-san and Teiyan-san liked the Halloween eyeball gummies. I should probably give Jess a Reese’s though. I still have five, so I suppose giving up one or two wouldn’t hurt, haha. Duke loved the cookies n’ cream Hershey bar; I thought he was gonna die of happiness. XD Oh, and the hat is great! I am now known as “Nyanko no Hikouki” because of it. That basically translates to Airplane Kitty. I put my hands in the pockets and spread my arms out like an airplane. It’s fun, but some people at school think I have issues. XD

I believe Sunday morning was laundry time for me, heh. Two full loads, and I was so happy to have everything cleaned! I really should have brought more T-shirts and the like (read: thanks, mom, for sending me stuff; can’t wait to get it). At some point, Duke came over again, as he and Matt had plans to go get pictures taken for their visa applications for future semesters. Jil and I tagged along, and Jess stuck around the dorm to watch anime. She watched Big Windup! XD I knew I’d get her to like it, muahahaha! It’s such a good series.

Anyway, let’s dodge that tangent. So after some wandering through the train station to find a photo booth, we ended up in Sunshine City. We went to the Book Off there to check out pricing on a DS for Duke, but we didn’t stick around long. For dinner we had decided on Saizeriya (that Italian place with the name I couldn’t remember). Much to our delight, there was one right across the street from the Book Off. It was totally packed, but we got in without too much of a wait. Mmmm… now I want that spaghetti again. And we were seated right next to the fountain drinks, woot! It was such a win. The rest of the night was spent hanging out in the dorm lounge, as we have a habit of doing. It’s a shame that we get kicked out at 10pm every night, heh.

On to the week! I really need to catch up with this blog o’ mine. Monday was a kanji quiz, and I aced that one too! Hooray! Tuesday we got back sakubun to review, fix, and return. Wednesday we had class with Okada-sensei again, and it had been awhile since we’d seen him last. The previous two Wednesdays were midterm then holiday.

Thursday we went over a text about Alfred Nobel and the Nobel Prize, because Friday’s class was a trip to a museum including exhibits about Nobel. That part of the museum mostly bored me, except for the fancy lights and interactive displays of information. However, I couldn’t read most of it… And we had to fill out some dumb worksheet too. Bleh. Also at the museum were exhibits on many, many different kinds of animals. And my favorite? The dinosaur fossils! That part was so much fun! There was a velociraptor skeleton on a pole that could be rotated to view from different angles. It was phenomenal. Jil loved the sea creatures’ exhibits, especially the squid model that was hung from the ceiling. We continued along to a section with more interactive screens. You could select a species or family from those screens, and the floor lit a path to show where in the room it was! I had fun walking along the path. XD

Friday morning, Duke came over to the dorm early to hang out until we had to leave for the museum. That way, none of us would be late. We ended up leaving later than planned anyway, but made it just in time to meet everyone. Me, being the smart person that I am, forgot to bring my camera along. However, many other students took pictures, so I shall find them on Facebook or something. XD

Once the adventure was over, I was pretty exhausted. I was like the energizer bunny for the dinosaur display, but I lost that energy pretty quickly, sigh. We met up with the teacher again to be dismissed, essentially, and I was finally allowed to drink the water I had brought along. I tried to chug it like a loony, but Duke stole the bottle from me to force me to breathe between sips. I was fussy about that. XP As we walked back outside, I pulled my usual “I want to fall over” nonsense, because that’s how I get when I’m tired. I go to fall over, and someone has to catch me. I should stop that, as it makes said person panic, but I’m so unreasonable when I’m tired. XD

The train ride home was insanely crowded. And the ride was rather rough. I lost my balance a lot, and almost took out another person at one point, sigh. Again, needed catching, which Jil thought was really funny. I did kind of look terrified at the time. >.> Falling over in and of itself is fine, but falling into a stranger would not be cool. I don’t like it when my clumsiness inconveniences people I don’t know.

In any case, we got back without much more trouble, and ate at McDonald’s, I think. That’s all I can remember for now. I’ll try to update again this weekend. Sorry this post was kind of lacking. x.x

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cooking Curry and a Day Off!

Monday, November 21st was a bad day for me. And a little bit for those around me too. I was just moody and angry, thank you girl problems. At least most of the group found my angry antics to be entertaining more than anything else. Although a dumb boy decided to tell me something he shouldn’t have, so I advised him to not talk to me for awhile. After that I began to toss around an origami box that Jil made for me. It was fun, and everyone else probably just thinks I’m insane now. Oh well. X3

I was trying to cool down before class; I didn’t want to be an angry person for Kataoka-sensei’s class. She’s too sweet, and I would have felt horrible. Unfortunately, she wanted to play sort of a game with roll call that day. First she wanted someone else to answer for the person she called, forcing the called student to correct the mistake. Then when she called my name, I was to pretend I was not paying attention, forcing a student nearby to tell me I was called. Well, Denseki-san (not sure of spelling) was sitting next to me, and said boy from earlier was sitting behind me. If I were smart, I would have whispered for Denseki-san to be the one to speak up. I didn’t do that, though, so I got a tap on the shoulder from behind. I was still angry and promptly turned around to tell him, in what was likely a very venomous tone, not to touch me.

After that, we moved our seats into the big half circle used for class, and I sat far away from anyone I really knew. In doing so, I could safely talk to those next to me for class exercises. Of course, as class dragged on, I began to feel like a terrible person. Don’t know why, as I gave fair warning that I might not be human that day. XP Poor kid next to me asked if I was sick. I told him no, I was just a girl. I doubt he understood what I meant, though, because he went on to say that he’s always sleepy in class too. During break, I barely left my seat at all. I was drawing angrily in my notebook, because that’s just what I do.

In any case, when class was over, I did apologize. (read: yes, mom, I apologized) I guess I can act like an adult sometimes. But only sometimes. Heh. And all was well again, as we scurried out of our classroom.

Tuesday was another sakubun, but this one will be used as a speech that we have to memorize. I’m not looking forward to that so much. They did give us the freedom to pick our own topics, and we were told about it ahead of time with the hope that we could finish writing it in class. Writing the sakubun was saved for the end of class as always. Jil, Duke, and I had a curry cooking class to attend afterward, so we tried to hurry in writing it. It took me a long time to figure out an opening sentence, but the rest of the paper didn’t take too terribly long. We were all late in finishing, but we still made it to the curry class.

Once we arrived at the place for the class, I immediately regretted letting Duke badger me into signing up for it. We would be making curry with some Japanese college students who volunteered to join. As if talking with them wasn’t nerve wracking enough, I was expected to help make food? I hate cooking in front of people, so I didn’t know what to do with myself. There were 15 US program students, I think, and we were split into groups of three that were then joined by two Japanese students each. Jil and I stole Duke for our group, as he had done the curry class before. Two male students joined us: Yuto-san and Yo-san, who were both very friendly.

We went to our station with the ingredients and got to work. At first I was afraid to touch anything, as it wasn’t my kitchen. Sigh. But I eventually joined in, helping Jil cut the carrots, potatoes, and onions. Yuto-san and Yo-san insisted that we were doing really well, like it was a difficult task. It was pretty entertaining. They kept telling me to be careful while I was working, though. I was being careful; they worried too much that I might cut myself. Yo-san took care of washing dishes as his portion of helping. He kept saying that it was something he could do, so he would do it. Duke took care of the actual cooking part of the job, and we all chatted to pass the time.

When everyone finished cooking, we all sat down and ate together. Rice was prepared by two students who volunteered to do that instead of make the curry itself, so it was time for some yummy curry rice! At our table, our group of five was joined by Michiko-san and another Japanese student, Masaki-san. We had a really good time talking about all kinds of things, such as differences in size of food portions from the US, Canada, and Japan. US of course won as the cheapest and fattest. I know Duke mentioned some other things on his blog too. The punk put up some pictures as well, ch.

Wednesday was a holiday! Woot for days off school! We were initially planning to do the afternoon free time for karaoke, but that ended up not happening. So sad. What we did do was go with the guys to Sunshine so Duke could get a CD that came out that day. It was the opening of a new anime he’s watching. As a quick note, most CD’s are insanely expensive in Japan. I’ve seen a few that cost around 5000yen (about $65). Granted that CD had a ton of songs on it, I still wouldn’t pay that much for it. Luckily, Duke’s CD was under 3000yen. He’s been pretty obsessed with this song since he first heard it, and thanks to that I have had it stuck in my head more than once. It is a good song, but the opening line drives me a little insane with the Engrish, heh.

After that, we went to a book store for the two Matt’s to get some JLPT prep books. We had to take the elevator to like the 8th floor of the building for that. Luckily, they were on a bookshelf right in front of the elevator. Win! Lunch followed, which was gyuudon again. I need to not eat that for awhile, I think. It would seem that I am growing tired of it.

On our way back to the dorm to yet again attempt studying, we stopped by the park to pretend to be kids for a little bit. XD We tried walked up logs that were set on an incline. The first one was simple enough, but the second set was too high an incline and too slippery. I opted instead for taking the other side to the horizontal set of logs, and just sat up there for awhile. The guys attempted the steep inclined logs and failed too. Doubters thought I was making up how slippery it was. Okay, just kidding. We just sort of hung out for a bit until we decided to stop scaring the locals. XD We did get some interesting stares from the passersby.

I believe we were distracted once again, this time by a CD and game store. The guys finally caved and bought a Japanese copy of Pokémon Heart Gold and Soul Silver; they were about 2000yen a piece (about $26). They were used games, but that’s still a decent price for Pokémon video games. Brand new in the US, they were $40. Anyway, Duke purchased Heart Gold, and Matt, Soul Silver. That night mostly involved trading good Pokémon from existing save files to Jess’s US copy of the game, and then the Matt-tachi began their own save files. XD

That’s all for now! ^^

Friday, November 25, 2011

End Midterm Week and Not Quite Singing in the Rain

Ah, Thursday. I somehow woke up in time to get ready and go to school as usual. I was running off of about four hours of sleep and was quite literally falling asleep in class all day. Kataoka-sensei must have noticed, because she called on me to answer a review question in the book just as I began to lose consciousness. Whoops. Luckily she is a nice person, so I don’t think she’ll hold it against me. I’m not sure I remember anything else about Thursday, as I was completely out of it.

Friday was a “disaster drill”, like our fire drills at home, but this one is about what to do in case of an earthquake. First we were made to hide under our desks, should the lights or anything else come loose and fall from the ceiling. Let me just say now that our desks are tiny. Seeing the guys attempt to fit under them was pretty hilarious. Poor Zach. His legs did not fit at all. I am small enough that I could fit my whole body under my desk, without anything sticking out. ^^;;; After hiding, we had to leave the building (in case of fire) and head for a nearby park, because it’s a large, open space with less risk of buildings falling on us or something. I personally felt the whole thing to be completely unrealistic. First of all, the entire school didn’t go at once. Second, I find it difficult to believe we’d make it all the way to the park in the event of an earthquake. Oh, and the most annoying thing was that they actually had people taking pictures of the freaking drill! Who does that??? I was not at all happy about it. x.x

Getting back to class mode was fairly difficult for me. I didn’t want to do anything after the drill. But, alas, I had no choice. Time just sort of dragged until almost the end of class, where more crazy conversations were made. It was another of those “watch the video and create your own dialogue” activities. In this video, there were two men walking back to their apartment building (note: condominiums in Japan are called “manshon”, a katakana transliteration of the word mansion). That had me laughing before I even knew it. One conversation involved the statement, “Oh, my condo is great. Do you want to come home with me to see it?” May I repeat that I love my class? XD These kids, quite a few of whom are actually older than I am, are hilarious!

Okay, time for some random notes about the week. The Pepsi buying war between Duke and myself is still going strong. One night I won pretty amazingly by dropping a 100yen coin into his pocket as he dropped on into the machine. However, he then decided he had to buy me a second one to make up for it. Punk. Couldn’t just let me enjoy my victory. Then, when we went to karaoke, he bought me another one! Three in one night was cheating. XP Since then, I have preemptively placed money in the side pocket of his backpack without him noticing about three times thus far, and only once did he find it before returning home. I’m totally getting back into this game.

While I’m at it, I’ll try to fit the weekend in here as well. Saturday Jil, Jess, and I were supposed to go to Asakusa (stress on second syllable, not first/third) with the culture class, but it was pouring rain. The trip involved walking around a bunch of shops, and I don’t have proper shoes for outings in the rain. None of us are taking the class for credit, so we made the executive decision to not go. Unfortunately, we forgot to ask Gotou-san to contact those at the school to let them know we weren’t going. We walked to the closest bakery for breakfast, and while we were eating, someone took my umbrella from the stand outside. Jil offered to share hers for the walk back, so I stayed mostly dry, except for my feet. Ugh. Few things exist that are worse than sneakers and socks soaked through as you walk.

After that, Jil and I spent most of the day in the lounge with the guys. Duke, of course, came over again. That’s practically all he ever does, heh. I seem to recall trying to draw that day and failing, as I couldn’t think of anything. But we all chatted a lot, so it didn’t matter that much. Dinner was gyuudon, and my feet became even more soaked during that trip. The ground was so flooded, it was not even funny. It poured even harder on the way back to the dorm. And me, without my umbrella. Duke all but demanded to share his, which was kind of broken, but big enough that it still functioned. I didn’t really have a say in the matter as he yanked me next to him. Jil giggled, and Duke felt the need to tell me several times “I mean nothing by this. Nothing but to keep you dry.” I found it fairly entertaining, personally.

We all hung out at the dorm for a little longer, until we got booted at ten and had to leave. Poor Duke had to walk back in the rain, while the rest of us scurried to our warm, dry rooms.

Luckily, Sunday was a much nicer day. Sun shining, humidity levels back down, I put my sneakers in the window to finish drying. They took about three hours from that time to dry completely, during which I video chatted with friends from home and regular chatted with the cousin. It was a lot of fun, considering I had been far too busy for such things before the midterm. That morning, Jess, Jil, Jason, Duke, and two friends of Jess went to a small anime festival type things near our area. I spent the morning alone, grabbed a simple lunch, and bumped into Matt on the way back to my room. He explained that the others were leaving the festival and heading to Akihabara, a place well known for anime merchandise. I chose to tag along with him and Jay to meet up with everyone.

We went out for okonomiyaki, an unusual pancake type food with very different ingredients from what you all know as pancakes. I probably would have enjoyed food more if I hadn’t just eaten, but it was okay. After that, there was some exploring to a nearby arcade with PuriKura. I decided not to participate this time. We walked around the arcade, played some air hockey, which I lost. I did great the first half of the game, but then fell apart once I hit 6points. Too bad. Then Duke played a table flipping game! XD All you had to do was smack hands on the table, then flip in when the bystanders weren’t paying attention. Apparently their surprise, plus the damage done by what was flipped increases the player’s score. It was pretty funny to watch. I want that game at home. In my room, haha.

The two Matt’s left to go back to the dorm, and Jay and Jason left to go elsewhere in Akihabara while the rest of us chose to go to karaoke. It was fun. We stayed for two hours before returning to the station, parting ways with Jess’s friends, and returning home. Jil, Jess, and I all got dinner at the convenience store on the way back. I got a small thing of curry; it was yummy. Upon returning to the lounge, I caught the end of a baseball game on the television. Apparently, the team they wanted to win won. XD Good for them. Odd note: the box indicating the strike zone is not shown on the screen here. It was interesting.

Well, that’s all for last week/weekend! ^^

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Beware the Midterm! Another All Night Karaoke?!

Okay, now for the post about midterm week! 11/14-11/16

Monday morning was funny; showed my picture off to everyone. XD Duke was jealous because he is not fabulous like the drawing (really, I just can’t draw beards, so there isn’t one). And Jil and Jess love their characters. Hooray for me! We all hung out and tried to study until class. In class we went over the homework and basically finished the last chapter to be included in the midterm on Wednesday. At the end of class, I was informed that I had to do my hatsuon check, which I had completely forgotten about. Yikes. Luckily, we’ve been working on a simple story: Momotarou. It was not difficult to read, so I got A’s for this check too. Thank goodness.

Tuesday was a hilarious class. Konno-sensei is always so funny, but on that particular day, I had a fun experience with another student. We were put into pairs to create a dialogue using the most recent grammar pattern. This conversation was meant to include “hurdles”, meaning that one person would ask for permission for something, and the other would essentially challenge the need for said permission. We were meant to go back and forth until one person backed down/granted permission. I was paired with Mokuhou-san (using a Japanese spelling of her name). For our conversation I actually took the initiative. XD I pretended to be a young girl asking her mother for permission to go play with a friend. She asked if I’d done my homework or studied, and my response was that I studied the day before. Then came the best line of the day: “Kinou ha kinou da yo!” Basically, she yelled that yesterday is yesterday. We were dying of laughter as the teacher pointed out that it was actually a common expression. Eventually I asked if my friend and I could study together and was granted permission. XD

After that, Zach and his partner were up. I’m not sure their conversation made too much sense. It was about borrowing a book, which was apparently the other kid’s “girlfriend”, but it had Zach’s name written on it, haha. Regardless, it was a blast.

Alas, the dreaded day of the midterm arrived: Wednesday. We got to school really early to do some last minute studying, mostly kanji on my part. Listening was something that couldn’t really be helped, and the grammar seemed doable. The reading section involved two stories we’ve already read, but it had slightly different questions. There was no preparing for the sakubun portion at all; we were not given the theme until time for the test. Thus, kanji was my biggest worry. We could be tested on any of the 135 kanji learned in class, but it was more like 300 possible words that could be made out of them. Needless to say, I was a little worried about that.

We shuffled into our usual classroom, followed by a different teacher from our usual three who was our test proctor. I went to sit down in one of the few remaining seats, only to be told by Junso-san to look at the board for our assigned seating. Turns out I picked the correct seat anyway. Duke, oddly enough, was at the desk behind mine and vowed to annoy me during the exam. Punk. Before I could come up with something clever to say, which probably would have failed anyway, the test had begun.

The first part of the midterm was the sakubun. I wanted to bash my head into the wall beside me. Duke wasn’t lying when he said these people were terrible trolls. Jil and I felt they wanted to crush all our hopes of doing well by throwing the worst section at us first. To top it off, the theme was absolutely horrendous: Things That Have Surprised Me since Coming to Japan (日本へ来て、びっくりしたこと). I’ve been asked this question on multiple occasions, and not once have I ever been able to come up with an answer. I had a time limit of 50min, though, so I simply wrote about a few differences between life in the US and life in Japan that I knew to expect. Okay, so I fibbed, but I had to write something. Worst section ever (read: worst essay ever written). There was a ten minute break after the sakubun for students to use the restroom, eat a snack, etc. Jil, Duke, and I used most of the time to tell each other how poorly we did.

Part two was the listening section, I believe. Many of the conversations/questions were ones previously done in class, so I knew how to answer them. Other questions involved a description of something, leaving us to pick one of four pictures that best matched what was said. The last few conversations were more difficult, as they were longer and had slightly more confusing questions to accompany them. Regardless, I think I did well on that section (read: I hope I did well). Another mini break was given before the longest part of the exam.

Reading comprehension was up next. The two stories picked out of the three we read were the obvious choices because they were the two more difficult ones. One was about soybeans and the Japanese people; I left a few questions blank on that side because some of the vocabulary was too complicated. The other side was the story of Noguchi, Hideyo. I answered all of those questions, and I think I got them all right. With any luck, that’s not just me being too optimistic, heh. Once time was up for that, we were immediately handed the bunpou section of the test. Throughout most of it, I felt I was able to put the correct answer, but there was at least one question I did not answer at all. I was still kind of in panic mode, and I could not remember for the life of me what one little phrase meant. That made the whole sentence that I was supposed to write pointless for me. I’m sure I made other mistakes too, even though what I wrote for certain questions may have seemed correct at the time. As long as I didn’t make too many little mistakes, I should get a fairly decent grade. ^^;;;

A short break later, and the time for kanji had come. I was the most worried about that section for the sheer volume of the content that could be used. Much to my delight, they picked a lot of simple kanji that I knew! There were fifty words we had to change from kanji to hiragana or vice versa, and I answered all but five. Provided all the ones I answered were correctly done, I have a 90%. I was only unsure of one or two that I answered, meaning the lowest grade I could have is an 86%, with which I am totally okay. Once I finished, I handed in my paper, put my chair upside down on top of my desk, grabbed my bag, and gleefully ran down the stairs to freedom. XD (Yes, we have to do that with our chairs every day) I was so happy to be finished the day of testing! Shortly after my retreat, Jil and Duke joined the group of freed prisoners. XD Jess was already downstairs, as each level’s exam worked a little differently. I believe the level 2 test sections were slightly shorter than ours.

So, our group gathered together to go eat dinner at the Italian place in Ikebukuro. Then we prepared for all night karaoke! Woot! We didn’t even care that we had class the next day; we wanted to party in celebration that the midterm was over. A group of seven this time (Jason, John, Matt, Duke, Jil, Jess, and I), we headed for Sunshine City.

Free time for karaoke during the week was cheaper too because it was a weeknight! We of course had a blast. Munchies were eaten, including some McDonalds at some point, drinks (only water and tea for me) were had, and all were merry. Jason was, as usual, far gone after only one drink and dancing as he sang. Matt got relatively drunk too throughout the night, which was also entertaining. As for me, I pushed myself too hard while singing not far into the night, but I kept up with the water and had a decent length break between each of my songs, so I was fine. XD I all but monopolized Duke’s giant headphones to listen to music on his phone once the other guys were so lost that their singing became drunken yelling. And I believe Duke asked me for about the hundredth time “Why are you not getting paid to do this?” I dunno, maybe I should try to be a singer. XP

Much like the previous all night karaoke trip, I was totally passing out by the end. However, this time I was able to at least stand for the walk home. I did however need help with the walking part; so of course, Duke was practically holding me up the entire trip back to the dorm. This time, at least, I was smart enough to bring my coat so that I wouldn’t freeze. We did decide to walk back through the station this time, so I did tear off my coat for that part of the trip. It’s always disgustingly hot in the subway. Once we reached our exit, though, we had to walk up a couple sets of stairs to get back outside again. I said I could handle it, but I was picked up before I had the chance to take even one step. I was set down again at the top of the stairs, and almost fell over trying to regain my footing before being pulled along yet again. I seem to recall saying fairly ridiculous things in my sleep deprived state. Mostly funny things that may not have made any sense. Heh.

We returned to our rooms to pass out for as long as possible, and poor Duke had to get all the way back to his host family before getting any potential sleep.

That’s all for now!