February 17, 2014

It is the final week of classes. And next week is my exam. On the one hand, I am extremely happy that this semester is coming to a close. On the other, I am extremely stressed out by the amount of essays on top of studying for Japanese. I know I will get it all done regardless, but I seriously wish I had the gumption to want to get it done with right away. But some of these professors just give out the most boring of assignments. And not just at ICU, but even back at UB. I really need to go for a run, to de-stress myself. The freak snow Tokyo had has literally made it impossible to do any outdoor exercising this past weekend. I could really go for a nice long run today, I am going to go for as long as possible, I just need to release as much out of my system as I can.

On another note, throughout my time here, I have noticed something. I feel less close with people than I originally thought I did. I have yet to really find anyone here, either Japanese or foreign, who I really feel like I can connect with. People come across so shallow and superficial, and treat friendships/relationships like a tissue that you can use once and throw in the garbage. Also, for some of other OYRs who are here, I keep coming across a recurring theme. There are some here who are so full of themselves that they practically treat any other foreigner like they have less importance or status than them. Some are just letting the extreme materialism of this city gt to their heads, and have turned into obnoxious assholes. And they treat anyone who is not at their level of proficiency in a discreet manner of ridicule and jeer, but not so discreet that the other can’t tell. And then we have those who are oddly coming to this conclusion that Japan as a whole hates them, and would like for them to leave. They take one aspect or segment of society and use that as their method for understanding how everything else works. Well, it is not quite like that! And stop constantly comparing things to back home, and wishing you were there constantly. You are on the chance of a lifetime and all you do is talk about home. Why don’t you just leave then? You just hide in your room, never talk to anyone and have no sense of social propriety!

Going back to social propriety, and I am going to sound like a broken record, but if you don’t at least attempt to invite people to partake in an outing, it makes them feel like you don’t want to really do anything with them. The lack of foresight kills me. 

I guess, all in all, I myself feel really lonely nowadays. I smile, I talk to people, but I really feel like I get nothing in return. Making friends at this school has been the most difficult thing ever. I feel better connected to people who are older than me, and no surprise there, while being here in Japan, the only people who I feel the closest to are older than me. And they don’t even go to this pretentious school.

January 29, 2014

So yeah, it has been definitely been quite a while since my last post. Let’s see here, Major highlights include hanging out with friends for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years all of which were really fun. I made some friends from South Africa who were in Japan for two weeks and stayed at ICU. Really great people, and I had never met any South Africans before (to my knowledge). Had the opportunity to hang out with Marli and Amelia and drink a little bit and had a great conversation for 2 hours or so at the secret spot I was shown a few months ago.

It is so weird how things change. Life here at ICU and Japan in general feels so different than when I first arrived, but I kinda like how it is now. I feel less like I am looking in and more like I am looking out. I definitely am much quieter here more often than back home. I don’t not talk, but that’s kinda how a lot of people are here. And I guess I do take on the persona of places I go to to some extent. 

Also, the amount of time that has passed while being here is crazy! 5 months already! I still remember my first few days being here like it were yesterday. And my memories are so vivid too. I can remember so much detail, it is a bit scary to a certain extent. Things that most people just normally wouldn’t remember, I for some reason can. 

Just one more thing before I go to bed. Lately, I feel like I relate less to the other foreign students here than I originally thought I did. They are all great people, but I feel sometimes unintentionally unnoticed by others. And it sucks. I am so over everyone bitching and complaining about life here in Japan. So many expect Japanese people to acquiesce to them, but never once do they try any effort themselves to respect Japanese culture. I think I am just so sick of everyone in general complaining. And I just for once would like to find someone who doesn’t have the maturity level of a damn 18 year old. Oh, and the amount of people who are complaining about their Japanese ability is driving me FUCKING BANANAS! Open your damn mouth and just talk! Even if you make mistakes, that is how you learn! The act of studying alone is not going to help you improve. You need to get out there and utilize. I could go on, but I am too tired. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Had a pretty decent day today. Went out to Kichijoji today with some friends and did some walking around. My one friend had to buy a camera, so we went to Yodobashi, and then went to a nice place called Lemon Drop. Had a good time, we probably talked for what was probably an hour and a half. Had amazing coffee there, some of the best I think I have ever had! 

You would think I would be used to it by now, but I always feel I am never asked to hang out. Today just happened to happen by chance. Otherwise, I probably would have been going solo. If I ever ask people to hang out, they either are already busy, or just don’t want to do anything. Which is fine; if they don’t feel up to it, then they don’t. But I just really wish I was asked to do things more frequently. People who I think I have a great connection with and relate well with just never get in contact with me. And I definitely try not to let it get to me, because the last thing I need is depression to overtake me, which does run in my family, so I really have to be careful. 

Another thing. I can’t stand that everyone on campus speaks English so well! And for example, if I try speaking in Japanese with someone, if I don’t understand maybe one word in Japanese, all of a sudden the “Let’s carry the rest of the conversation in English” button gets turned on, therefore killing the point of practicing Japanese. That’s why I try to get off campus as much as possible. Most places around ICU, running into someone who speaks English is almost non-existent. 

End of the semester

Sunday, November 17, 2013

I was going to post on this on Friday, but I unfortunately came down with a cold or something or other. I am feeling much better now, thankfully, but I guess I need to be more aware of my health. That is the second time within a month I have gotten sick, and that is rather unusual for me. 

Anyway, Friday marked the end of the Autumn term for me, as well as many of my other friends who are taking JLP courses. I had my final exam on Friday, and I think overall I did rather decent. I definitely surprised myself on the speaking portion, I was able to coherently keep up a conversation with my professors. It might just be possible that my speaking IS improving after all. Only time will tell. Regardless, I felt really good overall with the test, there were some questions here and there that were kind of like “WTF?”, but besides that I think I did okay. 

So what to do with the next three weeks of my Autumn Break? I had originally intended to do some travelling to Kyoto, but I decided to save that for another time. There is still so much more of Tokyo that I have yet to discover, and I now have the time to do so. So this break I will most likely be staying in Tokyo. I might also take these next three weeks to do some part-time job hunting, and/or try to do some English tutoring for pay. 

I am also looking forward to Thanksgiving, one of the dorms is doing a Thanksgiving party, which I was invited to so I am pretty excited about that. 

November 14, 2013

It is the last day before my final exam tomorrow. I have spent literally all of yesterday and all of today studying. I really do hope it will pay off tomorrow. I think my biggest worry is that my exam is 4 hours long tomorrow! I’ll probably be tired after just an hour! Regardless, it is a necessary evil. Once this exam is over, I will have three weeks of vacation. I do hope to do studying over vacation as well, but at least then it won’t be under so much pressure. 

Almost The End of the Fall Term

November 12, 2013: 

Before I start off this entry, I would like mention that it was my original intention to have started blogging back at the beginning of September when I first arrived in Japan for my study abroad. However, I got caught up in the newness of everything and the change in culture, and before I knew it roughly two months had already flown by. 

So today was the last day of actual classes for the fall term. We had part of our final exam today, which solely consisted of a sakubun. I can tell you right now, even though I did my best on this sakubun, it is probably the worst one I have written yet. Our topic was on 「環境を守るために何をすべきか」”What we should do to save the environment”. To be quite honest, even in English this might be a hard one to tackle. Unlike Japanese though, I would at least be able to add flowery language so it could seem like I knew what I was talking about. And to add to the difficulty of this sakubun, the topic relates to stuff we learned in Lesson 8 of our J4 booklet, which we just covered literally the end of last week and beginning of this week. Regardless, I just have to keep reminding myself that a sakubun is not a measure of one’s speaking ability, which is really my top priority out of everything. Tomorrow and Thursday is a reading period (time given to self study, essentially) and Friday is the main chunk of the final exam. As is usually the case, I feel rather good about my kanji. I really enjoy writing kanji, for me it is like an art form. Outside of that, I hope to review vocabulary and hopefully remember words that I have yet to sink into my head. And the scariest of all, grammar. I feel rather good about J3’s grammar, however J4 is another story. There is still quite a bit that I just can’t completely wrap my head around, and of the things I am fairly confident with, even those are just starting to make sense. I will definitely have to say one of my biggest complaints about how grammar is being taught here is that there is too much focus on just memorizing the grammar point vis a vis the English translation, and really no effort in actually UNDERSTANDING when a grammar point should and should not be used as well as no real improv conversation practice trying to use said grammar point. It can get a bit frustrating. I want to use the language from my heart, not regurgitate from my head. On a quick side note, this is not unique to Japan. Even in America, language is largely taught in this manner as well. I can’t speak for other countries however. So anyway, I will do my best on this exam. After the exam, I hope to take time practicing these grammar points out in spur of the moment conversation, and hopefully start to feel the language, and not just speak from my head.

When I arrived, I would definitely say that having been in this new environment at first made me quite an extrovert. But over the past two months as the culture shock, etc., has started to dissipate, I have definitely gone back to my normal introverted self. It’s funny, so many people can’t seem to believe or imagine me as an introvert. I think when I meet new people, or just hanging out with friends in general, I just instinctively want to feel like I can relate to someone, or be part of the group and share interests. By no means is that difficult. But unlike extroverts who build up energy through socializing with friends and peers, I exhaust energy through socializing with people. So very frequently are there times where I just need to be alone so I can essentially “reenergize” myself, or “reboot” more or less. I do think people can get the wrong impression. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you or hang out, I just to need time to rebuild my energy levels to communicate. It can be quite difficult. I hate to admit it, but I think it can be for this very reason alone, that I tend to fall out of relation with friends I make throughout life. I fear they think I don’t like them anymore. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. It takes a lot of mental energy and stamina for me to maintain a relationship or association with someone if I don’t see them on a daily basis. It’s definitely not easy.

On another note, it is really hard to know whether or not most of my Japanese acquaintances/friends truly want to talk to me because they have a genuine interest in me, or if they are just using me for practicing English, and then tossing me aside once they have used me up. I usually have a good instinct on whether someone is being fake or legit around me, but when it comes to Japanese society, it definitely gets a lot more complicated. Given that a lot of my personality traits oddly enough can be similar to a Japanese, you would think that being in a land where there are people who act a lot closer to how I act would make life easier. On the contrary, it makes things a lot more difficult! I don’t know if I will ever know who really is genuine with me, and who isn’t. 

But all in all, I have made really good friends here already, Japanese and non-Japanese alike. The numbers are few in both regards, but that’s how I like it. I am an introvert after all. I think I make life a lot more difficult for me than it needs to be. Hopefully I can work on changing that.

Study Abroad

Starting September 1st, I will be studying abroad in Japan for 10 months. I have erased all previous content, and will be uploading photos, videos, etc., to catalog my time while over in Tokyo. So please hang tight, I will hope to be uploading again in just a few short weeks!