Sunday, February 3, 2008

Well, this blog is actually pretty dead now (since I'm no longer in Japan), BUT...

I just saw this CNN video about Barack Obama's popularity in Japan, and guess where they went to get all their interviews? Temple University!!

The link to the video is here:
At the beginning when they have people saying "Obama," those are all people in the cafeteria at TUJ (and they probably all speak English)--I even know one of them. But the weirdest part was at the end when they interviewed a guy named Terrans Purcell, because I freaking know that guy! We had two classes together so I saw him basically everyday, and we used to talk a few times, although we each had different groups of friends so we didn't hang out together much. The point is, this is a fricking CNN video and they're interviewing people from MY school in Japan. I suppose it makes sense since it's an American school, but still... I guess that's a bigger deal than I had still even now realized.

Monday, December 3, 2007

I can has Japanese present?

Hey y'all~

So my time in Japan is running out and I'm having a difficult time thinking of good suveniours or gifts for everyone... so if you've been reading this blog, you have earned the right to request something (if there's anything), so comment away! or email or whatever.. just let me know, cuz otherwise you might get something crappy... well, hopefully not bad but maybe not what u want

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Whew, it's 5:41am here... classes are all done, all that's left are finals. I just finished writing one final paper--have one more paper (take home essay final actually) due on Friday, an Oral Japanese class final on Thursday, a Psychology final on Friday, and my Intermediate I Japanese final next Monday, and then I'm DONE with Temple University.

For those of you interested in my non-school-related plans (of which there have been a lot lately..) this last weekend.. Thanksgiving weekend actually, although it didn't feel like it.. I've been to the Keio University Culture Festival, Yokohama and its Chinatown, the Ueno Zoo, a really tall tower in Shinjuku, Kichijoji, and Nishi-Ojima.

Probably one of the coolest parts for me was walking onto a bridge in Nishi-Ojima (where Dave used to live but I've never been) and thinking "this place looks kind of familiar..." and finding out later that it was actually where a scene from my favorite Japanese drama was filmed, probably about 2 years ago around this time. I was really excited when I found out, hahahaha, I'm a geek or something, huh.

Still trying to figure out exactly where I'll be when this Christmas break. I think I'm going to have lots of free time, and I think I'm going to need it, both to get over jet lag and to try to get used to living in the States again. I should try to make up a list of things I'll miss and things I'll look forward to. Everybody loves lists!

Hope everybody is doing really well~ I'll see you all sooner than you think.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Probably the most important thing for learning a language is immersion, and since I'm in Japan and learning Japanese, that's obviously not much of a problem. Still, there are various things you can still make sure to do to help yourself along, such as watching TV in the language you're trying to learn. I usually don't watch TV either in America or in Japan, but I have been known to download and watch Japanese TV dramas in my spare time...

There's a drama I'm watching now that just finished airing in Japan around two months ago, called 花ざかりの君たちへ (Hanazakari no Kimitachi e, meaning "in full blossom for you all" or something) is a story about a girl who pretends to be a guy so she can go to an all-boys high school to try to meet one of the guys there. Here's a shot of all the students at the school (click on it for a bigger image):

One of them is a girl. Which one?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fun with Dialects and Accents

Sorry Yuki, I'm gonna write about 大阪弁 a little bit.

For those of you who don't know (i.e. 99% of my readership), 大阪弁 (Osaka-ben) means the Osaka dialect, or what is probably more accurately the Kansai dialect of Japanese. Last week at the Bible study we do at Keio University every Thursday, I met a guy from Osaka who taught me some stuff in Osaka-ben, and I've been looking for places to use it ever since. In case you guys don't know or haven't noticed, I really enjoy learning languages (or I guess you could say I'm a nerd when it comes to learning languages), and so even though this isn't very "useful," as some people have pointed out, I'm learning it and having fun with it anyway. Some friends of mine said the same thing when I taught myself to read/write Korean. Actually, Korean has turned out to be almost completely non-useful, but like I said, I don't really care anyway.

So anyway, at church I'm learning that Japanese friends of mine are always eager to awkwardly introduce me to new people that I really don't have much in common with based on (in my opinion) little unimportant side-issues. For example, last week I told someone I could speak some Spanish from studying it in high school, and he immediately called over a couple at the church from Peru and told them I spoke Spanish, in spite of my protests that I hadn't spoken it much in more than a year. Our conversation ended up being them asking simple questions in Spanish, and me answering them in Japanese--I could understand what they were saying but if I had been forced to answer in Spanish it would have taken me forever.

This week, once I started saying a few things in the Osaka dialect, once again a friend of mine brought me over to two people who were already in a conversation together and (from my point of view) kind of interrupted their conversation to tell them about me. And the only reason was because they were both from the Kansai region--i.e. they spoke Osaka-ben. Actually though, even though it was a little awkward at first, they were pretty happy to teach me all kinds of new stuff, half of which has already fallen into that category of "I recognize it but can't use it" words (i.e. forgotten words). Still, it's fun learning all the different ways to say things I already know, like new ways to say "really?" and "is" and some region-specific phrases that everyone in Japan knows and associates only with that part of Japan. It was also funny to hear that one of the guys I was talking to was at a store in Tokyo when all the employees gathered around and told him to "say something!" just to hear his accent. It sounded so normal, or to me, so American, that it was funny to hear of that happening in Japan too.

As for America, I feel like while we do have different regional "dialects" of sorts, the major differences between areas are merely in pronunciation, and there aren't that many actual words that only people from a certain area use. "Y'all" comes to mind fairly quickly, but that's really the only one, so I guess I'd consider the regional differences to be more accents than real dialects. That's not to speak of ebonics or anything like that, which I think is technically much closer to a the definition of a dialect than regional differences are. But anyway, now I'm curious--has anybody else ever learned a dialect (or specific accent) in another language, or been used as an example of one for someone who didn't know?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Picture Update

So I have a few pictures from the past week or so that I decided to put up here, since they are all kind of random and hence give a little sample of general types of things going on over here. I also added all these pictures to my photo page in the "More General Life" album, just fyi.

This is actually my friend who I caught wearing this shirt. First I saw that it said Minneapolis, and I was like hey sweet! And then when I looked a little closer...

A general idea of how that part of my desk looks at any given time.

Japanese coins. There are 1 yen coins, 5 yen coins, 10 yen coins, 50 yen coins, 100 yen coins, and 500 yen coins. Waaaay easier to use than lots of bills, actually. It's also more useful though because things are more expensive here...

Ramen that I made. It's just instant ramen, but I added green onions, tofu, bean sprouts, an egg, and kimchi. It's pretty good but actually not like amazing.

There's a ridiculous store near us called Rodeo Drive--I'll elaborate on it more sometime later, but this is ac

Thanks, nature! Haha I love this bus.

This was on a shirt in Harajuku, which was kind of surprising.

A clothing store...??

More pictures and updates later, hope everyone is enjoying the end of the quad back at Wheaton!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Settling Down?

Whew, so it's been a while since I've posted anything on this blog. I suppose this is probably because it's been almost 2 months since I arrived in Japan and I'm starting to get used to it... maybe? Or maybe I'm just lazy hahaha. I guess since I'm talking about this though I'll try to give a quick run-through on about what I do every day.

Even though classes here are split into those on Mon/Wed/Fri and those on Tues/Thurs, I have a class at 9:00am every day, so I always have to wake up somewhere between 7 and 7:30. Usually I hit the alarm once before I get up. While I'm getting ready to leave, I'll eat once piece of toast if I have time, and if I'm REALLY on top of things, maybe a fried egg on top... yup.

I take a bus to school that I try to catch somewhere between 7:55 and 8:15 or so, whenever it gets there. MWF I have class until 12:30, TR I have one at 9 and one at 1:30. MWF I just go to class and then eat lunch afterwards, usually at this soba/udon(そば・うどん)place nearby, which is really good (if u don't know what soba or udon is just look it up). After that it totally varies... either meeting friends (usually they help with my Japanese hw too haha) or getting online in the lab or doing hw or studying Japanese on my own, or whatever. Actually now that I'm writing this I'm sort of realizing I don't really have a routine each day past class and food. Oh well.

Tuesdays and Thursdays I'll usually prepare for my oral Japanese class at 1:30 after my 9:00 Japanese Culture class. Dave also randomly ran into someone at a church he went to that turned out to be a prof at Keio University (慶応大学, which you can read about here) and who wanted Dave to start a Bible study. Dave told me about it and then told the prof that I was interested too and so apparently the plan is now that Dave has a Bible study on Thursdays and I think I have one next Wednesday with some doctorate student. I'm not totally sure about all the details right now but I think that's what's going on.

Weekends vary too... quite a bit... although I now go to New Hope International Fellowship in Ochanomizu (御茶ノ水, which means tea water I think), and I've been getting to know a few people there, which is really good. Last weekend actually Dave and I and our friend Julie who lives next door went on a trip (with other international students) to Kanazawa, Japan, which is known for having old Tokugawa-era buildings and stuff that are still intact, so that was a sweet trip. I'll put some pictures up soon. (Edit: This has been done. Photos)

So I guess this post didn't really do exactly what I planned, but maybe you have at least a bit more of an idea of what it's like living here... although I kind of think maybe not.

By the way, just for fun here's a random note about Japanese! Just like how we have Sunday, Monday Tuesday, Wednesday, etc, (all with "something-day") Japanese days of the week are 日曜日(nichiyoubi)、月曜日(getsuyoubi)、火曜日(kayoubi)、水曜日(suiyoubi)、木曜日(mokuyoubi)、金曜日(kinyoubi)、and 土曜日(doyoubi) all with 曜日 at the end (日 is the kanji (character) for "day"). Plus if you're just talking about days of the week, you can shorten these to just the first kanji, for instance in writing today's date you could write 10月 12日(金)meaning Friday October 10th, similar to how we shorten them to Mon. Tues. etc. Also, for those of you who know Chinese, you'll notice that the days of the week are named after stuff--日 means sun, 月 means moon, 火 means fire, 水 means water, 木 means wood, 金 means metal, and 土 means earth or soil, unlike in Chinese where they're just numbered (which turns out to mean basically first day, second day, etc--someone correct me if I'm wrong).

Incidentally, unlike days Japanese months are not named after anything, just numbered, so that they're written 一月 or 1月、二月 or 2月 and so on, using either the kanji for the number or the roman numeral.