Nar3: Japan

Posted on Thursday, October 9th, 2003 at 11:30am by Brett.
(Friday, October 10th, 2003 at 12:30am Japanese Standard Time)

Yesterday I had to give a speech in my Japanese class. In Japanese.

It wasn't too bad. I didn't get sick, I didn't loose control of any bodily functions, I didn't trip or knock things over or do anything like that. But it could have been better.

Every week in my Japanese language class we have to write an essay. From these essays, we have to prepare two and turn them into speeches. Because I chose to go so early in the trimester, I only had two speeches to choose from: "My Country's Customs (using giving and receiving verbs)" and the "If....Then" essay. (Sorry for the crap description...there's really no way to translate this into English.)

I was absent the day the "If...then" essay was assigned. I wasn't skiving classes (fun British slang!), I had a nasty headache so I went home to bed. My friends told me that I needed to write an essay giving a self introduction, and then saying "If I had a 1,000,000 yen, then I would...". So merrily I write this essay, and then turn it in. I get it back with LOADS of red marks (and a bit of green, for some reason).

Generally, you write an essay, turn it in, have it torn apart, then rewrite it with the corrections. So ...(More)

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Foreigners on parade!
Posted on Friday, October 10th, 2003 at 6:09am by Brett.
(Friday, October 10th, 2003 at 7:09pm Japanese Standard Time)

This week is the Tsukuba University Festival. In the grand tradition of really liking national holidays, Monday is a national holiday. The net result is that we have a 4 day weekend. Good times!

My friend Shannon and I were biking around campus to see if the festival had been set up. They were putting stuff up everywhere...stages and platforms and booths and kiosks, but the festival doesn't open until tomorrow at 11. It looks like it will be good times.

On our way home, we ran into a group of our other friends and stopped to chat. They were getting ready to practice for the parade that's on Sunday. Neither Shannon nor I particularly wanted to be in this parade thing, but...shall we say circumstances (DIRTY LIARS!) caused us to reconsider, and so we decided to go to the practice.

They weren't too keen on giving lots of information, so it was a "need-to-know" kind of thing. They told us to go to a elementary school. We knew this was a parade sponsored by TISA, and that you were supposed to be wearing clothes native to your country. The USA, being a faily new country, doesn't really have any culturally "native" clothes, so we're wearing our blue ...(More)

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Site update and new pics
Posted on Friday, October 10th, 2003 at 10:01pm by Brett.
(Saturday, October 11th, 2003 at 11:01am Japanese Standard Time)

The until now useless links under the Students section work (for me...everyone else needs to give me their info so I can put it in there). I've added a new picture gallery. It's not using my own program, but something called Gallery. It works, so enjoy.

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The naked
Posted on Wednesday, October 15th, 2003 at 8:28am by Brett.
(Wednesday, October 15th, 2003 at 9:28pm Japanese Standard Time)

I was telling my friend Chad a couple nights ago about a fit I had in the public showers a couple weeks ago. Not so much a "fit" as much as sudden and acute culture shock.

I walked into the entrance to the showers and bought my ticket. I gave it to the Dirty Old Man that guards the showers and then went into the changing room. I had been pretty busy that evening, so I was getting a shower later than normal, which I had wanted to avoid because it gets so crowded.

And crowded it was.

I walked in, shut the door behind me and stopped. I nearly dropped my clothes and towel...I think I squeaked a little. There was naked everywhere. My eyes scanned the room...right to left, left to right, and then once more around for good measure. Yeup. Definitly naked. I realized I was breaking the cardinal rule of public bathing, and immediately focused my gaze to the really well-constructed floor tiles.

But the damage had been done. There was a nearly impossible number of naked people crammed into the tiny--and growing ever smaller--changing room. The thing is, I was the only one who seemed to notice the naked.

There were people sitting on the benches chatting ...(More)

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Still Small Voice
Posted on Monday, October 20th, 2003 at 7:11am by Brett.
(Monday, October 20th, 2003 at 8:11pm Japanese Standard Time)

I've been on this mission once, and I'm going again.

I desperately want to find the rest of this song. I don't know who sings it, and I can't find the lyrics online anywhere. The title is most probably "Still Small Voice" and it was inaccurately said to be by "Lifehouse" when I downloaded it. (Mr RIAA, It's completely legal. I have the CD. No really. Promise.)

Download it to help me out. (Mr RIAA, everyone who downloads this has the CD. I'm sure!) If you know who sings this, Email me!

Here's what I have for the lyrics as I hear them:

I will be quiet,
You do the talking.
You say the words
You're wanting to say.

I long to hear
Your sweet words of life,
So speak and don't let me
Stand in the way.

For I long to hear
Your still small voice.
You just speak to me
In words so loving.

I choose to sit,
And I make the choice.
So waitful and silent,
To wait for your still small voice.

I will be patient,
And you'll come running.
Leaping and skipping
Over the hills.

Longing to know me,
Longing to show me.
Just how much you love me.
Oh, what a thrill.

Then ...(More)

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Laundry Weirdness.
Posted on Monday, October 20th, 2003 at 9:18pm by Brett.
(Tuesday, October 21st, 2003 at 10:18am Japanese Standard Time)

A very odd thing happened to me this morning.

It actually starts last night, when I was doing laundry. There were no half naked guys this time, but something much stranger. I threw in a random assortment of shirts, socks, and underwear and was on my way to shower. I got back from the shower and moved the clothes into the drier where they stayed the rest of the night (because it takes that long!).

I woke up this morning and went to get my dried clothes. I get to the laundry room, and expected to see them sitting on top of a washer or something because someone needed the drier they were in. They weren't there, so I looked in the drier.

There they were. Folded. All of my clothes had been folded. It wasn't just one or two shirts that COULD have been by accident, but all of them. The underwear was even folded. The socks weren't paired up, though. That'd just be too weird...

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Posted on Thursday, October 30th, 2003 at 7:47am by Brett.
(Thursday, October 30th, 2003 at 9:47pm Japanese Standard Time)

Everyone deals with homesickness differently. Some people cry; some people shop; some people party every night; some people eat; some people stop eating.

I get grouchy.

We're all going through bits of homesickness now. The initial excitment and general business (busy + ness, not shops) has gone away, and life has sunk in. We're definitely in Japan.

I'm coming out of the obligatory week or so of pouting and feeling sorry for myself that is apparently inherent to studying abroad...much to my friends' pleasure.

They would call me asking to go out and the conversation would go as follows:

*ring ring*
Me: "Hello."
Kate: "Hey...whacha doing?"
Me: "Sleeping."
Kate: "It's 6:00..."
Me: "What do you want?"
Kate: "Just wondering if you'd fancy coming out?"
Me: "No. I'm sleeping"
Kate: "Brett...it's only 6..."

It was really dreadful, and I'm very glad to have gotten out of it.

I miss very odd things. I miss my dog. And...my ...(More)

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Weekend weirdness
Posted on Sunday, November 2nd, 2003 at 1:28am by Brett.
(Sunday, November 2nd, 2003 at 3:28pm Japanese Standard Time)

I just finished up one of the best classes I have ever taken. It was an Intensive course that met only this Saturday and Sunday for about 7 hours each day. It was based around the psychology and sociology of Japan, but it was really more like a huge group therapy session. There were only 7 of us in the class...all American, and we all knew each other. We all know each other much better now. It was a REALLY good class.

On the way back, though, we had to stop by a professor's office to give him a list of our email addresses. We were stopped by possibly the GREASIEST looking Japanese guy ever. He had a video camera and wanted to talk to us for a bit...so we let him.

Then, about 3 minutes into it, he said "WAIT! I'm not being recorded!" and handed the video camera over to one of us to record him. He continued to talk about himself for around 20 minutes. It was really, REALLY odd.

On a completely unrelated issues, I think I found a band to join! Some of us are going to check it out tomorrow. They're having a big concert and it should be fun. By chance, I met a Japanese guy in the Ryuugakusei center who played tenor sax, so I was all "I PLAY ALTO!!!!!" and he ...(More)

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2 Months???
Posted on Thursday, November 6th, 2003 at 11:11pm by Brett.
(Friday, November 7th, 2003 at 1:11pm Japanese Standard Time)

I've been here over two months already! Things have gotten pretty much settled in. My room feels more like home than it did...uh...than it did when it wasn't, I suppose. Having the internet in my room helped a lot. Home is where the harddrive is. ...And the high speed internet connetion...

This month should be a lot of fun. I start playing with the orchestra on Monday, so that should be at least exciting. I'll be the only foreigner. Yikes.

Toward the end of the month I'll be going on a trip to Kyoto. It's during our break, so I'm not missing any classes. Hopefully it'll be as much fun as everyone says!

Tonight I'm going to go to one of my student's houses. I tutor a couple people in English, and one of them has invited me for dinner at his house. I'm hoping I'll be able to remember all the Japanese etiquette and ritualistic language.

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Dinner at Tohru's
Posted on Friday, November 7th, 2003 at 8:19am by Brett.
(Friday, November 7th, 2003 at 10:19pm Japanese Standard Time)

I've been tutoring this man called Tohru in English for about a month. He invited me to his house for dinner tonight, and it was the most fun I've had in a long time.

He has two little children, a boy (7) and a girl (9). I get there, and his wife is picking up their daughter from her swimming lessons. She gets there, and introductions are done all around. The wife doesn't speak much English, and the children speak next to none.

They start setting up the table for the food, and the boy asks me to play with him, so I go into their tatami room where I see a SNES. Mmm. I am in my element. The boy pops in Mario All Stars and we start playing the original mario. For a little 7 year old boy, he was really good. The girl was really really shy and just watched TV, but the boy was anything but.

By the time the dinner was ready, he was sitting on my lap having me play his levels for him. Then dinner.

Oh the dinner.

Tohru didn't tell me that his wife is in culinary school. She had made SOOOO much food. I'm not going to have to eat for nearly a week. It was a traditional Japanese meal. I found nothing that I couldn't eat. There was only one thing that I wasn't ...(More)

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