Thursday, September 16, 2010

A little bit of this, a little bit of that.

Alright, now I'm gonna try and keep on schedule with my posting!

I, uh. I really like bullets. So here's some of that.

  • It feels strange to say, but I really like school. I guess I like the set schedule of getting up every day and going to campus, and having class, and eating with friends, and all that. The Japanese classes I'm taking haven't ended up being very hard for me at all--I think that learning all of the hiragana and practicing over the summer really paid off. I already know most of what we're learning in the speaking class, though there are a lot of vocab words that are new to me. The reading and writing class is very easy--we've been doing hiragana for the last week and a half, and just now started on katakana. I'm pretty sure I aced the first test today, so that's a plus! Though I feel bad bragging about my skillz--I feel like a lot of the international students try and brag about how much Japanese they can speak or what level they're in (or feel like they're supposed to be in), and to be honest it's a little annoying to me. I don't really care what level I'm in, as long as I learn! Maybe it would be different if I was majoring in Japanese or had taken classes before. I feel like maybe it has something to do with their personalities, or everyone's just trying to one-up the other one, or something. It really doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me!
  • I've found that having a bicycle in the city is really, really convenient. In the states, I never really considered riding a bike as an actual method of transportation. But here it's almost necessary, it seems. I think I'm starting to fall in love with biking; I wonder if I might start using my bike I have at home when I go back to school next fall. Another thing that I thought about, is that if I do end up using a bike in the states, I'll have to pretty much re-learn how to drive in a city setting, as the traffic goes the other way here and I'm pretty sure there are different rules about riding on sidewalks/in the street.
  • The traffic. And the cars. The cars here are pretty much how I imagined them--smaller, and boxy looking. They have to be; a big SUV from the U.S. wouldn't be able to fit down a lot of the tiny residential streets. Another thing I've noticed: pink cars. You barely ever see a pink car in the U.S., but here I notice at least one every day. A lot of girls drive pink scooters, too. It's kind of cool. It seems like the traffic goes a lot faster in the cities (and certainly on the highways) here, but it might just be an illusion because of how much smaller the cars and roads are, or something.
  • This is such an incredibly expensive country to live in, it seems. Actually, things aren't priced really that high. It's just that the American dollar is very low right now in comparison to the yen, which means that I lose a bunch of money (several hundred when I exchanged my first large sums) just to the exchange rate. The way things are priced over here, if you moved the decimal point over twice to the left it would be about the same as in America (so ¥100 becomes $1.00, etc.; a large can of Pepsi in the vending machine in my seminar house is ¥100, similar to how much it would be at home.) However, because $1 isn't really equivalent right now to ¥100 (today it says $.85 to ¥100, but last week I heard it was $.80...), I'm spending an extra 15-20 cents for every ¥100 I spend here. So yeah, that adds up. I can't wait until I get my meal stipend; I've been living off of the cheapest things in the cafeteria and a few meager things I got at the supermarket last weekend. I'm actually excited to shop for whatever foods I want, and cook every night.
That's all for now, since I have homework to do before getting to bed. Phooey.

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