Sitting here chomping on a rather large niku-man from the 7-eleven, I’m happy to be able to say that I’m now well again. So catching up from last week, I did try to relax and sleep most of the weekend away and that (combined with the 4 different medicines I was taking) was just what the doctor ordered, literally. Come Sunday afternoon I was feeling much better and managed to keep down some small foods, though it did leave an odd feeling in the bottom of my gut.
Monday morning was the day of my make-up test, obviously my confidence was taking a trip that day. Harsh as it may seem, I was kind of hoping that other people may have been ill on the Friday so that I wouldn’t have to take the test alone. But no, no one else. There’s something incredibly weird about having to take a test alone. The room had no clock and my watch had died some time before, so I had to try to estimate how long I was taking on each section. When the test was over I handed in my paper and headed down to the Ajisai room.
As I’ve previously mentioned, the Ajisai room is one of the few places I can talk to native Japanese speakers in a relaxed atmosphere. I feel kind of guilty asking friends to come all the way to Osaka from Kobe for the mere purpose of hanging out, and on the reverse side of the coin I really don’t always fancy going to another prefecture for the same reason. Once again my random conversations were had and a few games of Mario Kart DS also.
Since my Japanese language classes were over for the year, I only had my linguistics assignment left to worry about. Well, that and my assignment from Leeds that’s due early in January. Thus between this and sleep, not a lot’s actually happened this week.
On Wednesday we had our final Business class, and since the last exam was already done and dusted we had a little bit of a party. Our sensei brought in a range of Japanese munchies and we had a bit of a quiz (on the subject of mergers and acquisitions). Winning myself some a red-bean mochi, by answering that Nestle were the only foreign chocolate maker with a base in kansai, I started to unwrap the squidgy food.
This is the first time I’d tried mochi and to be honest it was probably the last. I’ve not been a big fan of red-bean paste since first trying it in a donut some time ago; I find they remind me too much of kidney beans, which I do like (with rice) but not in a sweet sense. The mochi itself consists of a gelatinous rice which I’m told has been pounded repeatadly to give it its form. It is a very chewy and powdery kind of cake, but for me it didn’t really have enough flavour.
Next year my classes and class times will be changing, so Thursday was the final time I would be going to my Practical Athletics Training class; where I am the only foreigner. To mark the occaision I decided to really push myself and improved on all my levels on each piece of equipment. I won’t say what they all are (because frankly I don’t remember them but have them written down at the gym), but do remember that I ‘abcrunched’ 56kg. Bare in mind I’m only 66kg myself.
This was also the day of the last Linguistics class, which in turn meant that my linguistics assignment was due the following day. After working through the night, napping on the floor at times, I had my essay finished at about 7 o’clock on Friday morning. Throughout the essay I discovered an extra thing about Chiri Kitsu, a character in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, and an extra about the Itoshiki family, that I didn’t research online.
Firstly, thanks to a friends linguistic project on mimetics, I realised that ‘Chiri’ can also mean curly or frizzy. This is a reference to Chiri Kitsu’s true hairstyle, rather than the straight, perfectly split down the centre look she usually goes for. As for the Itoshiki family, well when you combine the kanji used for the family name (a running joke in relation to all the family members), and add the kanji for home (read as ie), then you are given zekke, meaning extinct family. I would have put those up here in their kanji versions, but not everyone who reads this can view kanji properly on their computers, so the links will have to do.
I got my marks back from Japanese and although they seem to be quite low compared to the status quo, they do seem to be a vast improvement to my marks at Leeds. Personally I could argue that this is because at Leeds everything was new and here for the first part of the year we covered old material, but would like to think that being in a country where I can put my degree topic to use on an almost daily basis had something to do with it too. Once again my speaking saving the day over all, which is ironic when you think about it.
On the subject of speaking, a few times yesterday I have had encounters of speaking with people I didn’t know, and with me still being alive and well, I can only assume that I did well. I first had to go to the local ward office to change my address details for my National Health Insurance, then on the way back home I had a good conversation with woman selling takoyaki. I know this chat went well because she threw in some extra pieces for free, calling them a welcome gift. Finally last night I went to a bar a few doors down the road where I was enticed by the fact that they advertised selling Red Stripe, a Jamaican beer. The conversation was great as I was the only other person in there (this has become something of a habit, being the only other person in a bar) and the Red Stripe was good, though very expensive.
Recently I’ve got back to playing a bit of old school gaming with Rockstar Games giving away it’s original Grand Theft Auto and GTA 2 via download. It has been a nice stress buster aswell, giving that you can easilly go on a murderous rampage for little to no reason whatsoever and then turn off and go on your merry way. Of course, that is if you’re over 18. Let’s face it, when people moan that the youth of today are being warped because of games like this, we really have to look at how they’re getting them, and in many cases it seems to be the parent’s buying them for them. I’ve included the the links for them above, so do enjoy going back in time before realism was all that people wanted in games like this.
Finally, Christmas is coming. Though I’ve never been a fan of Christmas back home, everyone getting into a “gimme gimme gimme” attitude, the cold weather, the fact that starting in October everywhere shoves Christmas lights so far down your throat that you fart out sparkles, here it’s been quite different. The main thing I’ve noticed is the disctinct lack of a Christmas atmosphere. Yes there are lights, but you don’t feel blinded everywhere you look. Yes there are people dressed in santa outfits, but they’re minimal (I don’t mean their height). And yes there are signs advertising things that would make for good christmas gifts, but this is over shadowed by the fact that in Japan it is New Year which is the key focus of the winter break. Christmas here is not a national holiday, so we will be getting food at the dorm.
I’m still going to KFC for lunch though, as it appears to be something of a Japanese tradition.