October 2006

General Updates

It's been a rather lonesome day, partly due to my own indifference towards seeing anybody in particular under the guise of having too much work to do (which, granted, is mostly true!). The mushroom tempura I had for dinner at Tenya wasn't that spectacular either; for the most part it had the same pieces of tempura the regular 500 yen tendon had, but just with a single extra piece of mediocre fried mushroom that bumped the price up by 190. I should be saving my money.

So, the third week of class is starting at Waseda. In addition to the required Japanese language course, I'm also taking Cultural Anthropology and the Practicum in Japanese Arts. During the first day of Cultural Anthropology, the professor used the typical scare tactic of acting like a short-tempered tyrant, which managed to effectively cut the class size down by half. Last Wednesday when I took her class, she seemed to be in quite a jolly mood, and I think she might have even smiled...? As for the Practicum in Japanese Arts goes, I wasn't originally planning on taking an art class while I was here; this year was going to be my break from six-hour studio classes that always managed to sufficiently drain me every semester I took them at Calstate. However, as it turns out, the class is only about 30% studio work; the rest of the time is spent going on field trips. When we finally do start our studio work, I'll be taking woodblock print class, which is probably just about as stereotypically Japanese Art as you can get, but heck, why not?

There are six levels of Japanese language classes in Waseda's School of International Liberal Studies, and for some reason I managed to slip into the level 5 class. Of course, it's a little difficult for me as I was wholly expecting to place in level 3, 4 if I was lucky, but this is just fine since I guess I should probably put a little more effort into studying the language now that I'm here for the next year. However, this past Friday one of my Japanese teachers (the one focusing on vocabulary and listening comprehension) asked me during our break in class whether I thought the class was too difficult, and if I would like to move down...? Granted the kanji quiz from the first week weren't too hot, but I did perfectly fine on the tests this week, especially on the vocab tests from this specific teacher which I know she graded already, so I'm a little miffed that she asked me this. :\

Before Waseda classes started, the CSU group had gone on our first daytrip together to Narai and Matsumoto Castle up in Nagano prefecture, about three hours away from Shinjuku by bus. My camera was running low on battery so I only got a few photos of Narai, but my cell phone managed to catch a few more of Matsumoto. While I can't say I was all too greatly affected by the trip considering that it was all pretty formulaic as far as visiting old places in Japan goes, I do get to accept the honor of being CSU's first Japan study abroad incident.

That is, I hit my head underneath a bridge after carelessly standing up too fast. And after curling into a foetal position and being laughed at for a few minutes, I took my hand off my head to find it soaked in blood. 8D

Of course, the other students in the class were all like "holy shit"; David may or may not have felt bad about having snapped those photos of my agony from earlier; and the Resident Director Dr. Shek, a usually cheerful and petit man of good humour, quickly changed his mood as he muttered a solemn "Oh my." At first I didn't think it was a big deal since, despite the blood, it hurt just as much as any other time I've ever hit my head. But, after being repeatedly warned not to fall asleep in case I had a concussion, I started to worry just a little...?

Long story short, the periodic snaps of camera phones going off behind me from the Japanese students trying to take a picture of the band-aid that was sloppily applied by Takako (the program associate who has been working with the CSU International Program for 20-some years, who had suggested shaving my head for the band-aid to hold a little better) as they exclaimed how "kawaii" I looked in my pitiful and injured state served as a good enough hint that I most likely was going to survive if I decided to take a nap after all. (Which I did, because what the hell else are you going to do riding home on the bus for three hours, right?)

We were told during our orientation that pretty much everybody falls into a cycle when they study abroad, especially in a place like Japan where the society is so contrary to what we're accustomed to in the United States: first, you're elated about your new surroundings and everything is absolutely splendiferous; then, once that feeling has died down, you start feeling homesick, and eventually everything you loved about your new living situation turns into everything you hate about it; and finally, you adjust, and you come out of it a better human being.

I don't know if I'm just being optimistic or not, and I honestly hope I'm not deluding myself, but so far I don't think I'll ever be hitting that second stage of the cycle. I've yet to find anything about this city that I actively dislike; rather, I still find pleasure just walking around on the streets on my own and indulging myself in the urban atmosphere. Furthermore, in spite of the language barrier, I feel more at home here than I ever did going to school in America. Well, who knows. I was always kind of socially awkward back in California anyways, so anything's a step up from that, am i rite??

I'm hungry again.

Oh, Japan, you JERK!

Japan decided to spank my ass today without any warning nor explanation. I felt a little violated for the next few hours before it finally thought to let me know that, "BTW JK LOLOLOL."

I shall elaborate!

I finally went back to the ward office to pick up my alien registration card this afternoon. Namioka-san, the sister of the priestess of the temple, took me in her hot red sports coupe. As soon as I got the card, I thought to put it in my wallet, but seeing as Namioka-san had an appointment to make, we rushed back into the car. What followed was a complete lapse in my memory that lasted until we had arrived back at my apartment:

Last night I had borrowed money from Namioka-san's husband because he took me to shop for a computer desk and the place we went to only took cash, and since I stopped by the ATM earlier today, as I got out of the car I handed the money to Namioka-san to give to her husband and then waved her goodbye. After she drove off, however, I thought to myself, "Hey... did I...ever put that registration card into my wallet...?" I had my wallet in hand since I drew out money from it for Namioka-san, but when I opened it back up to check if the card was there... Nothing.

Checked my bags, checked my jacket, my jeans, inside my boxers... Nothing.

There was a typhoon today so I dropped my things off in my room first before running back out to the temple, not minding to take my umbrella with me since it was only a short distance away. I told Hibino-san, the priestess, about my situation, and she gave her sister (who had already left for her appointment) a phone call to see if the card was anywhere in the car. After a few minutes, Hibino-san returned saying that it wasn't. I suggested that perhaps it was in the wad of cash I handed to her. Hibino-san told me that she'll let Namioka-san know about it after she gets back. I return to my apartment and took a nap.

Two hours later I got a call from Hibino-san: apparently the card was nowhere to be found in the car, nor in the wad of cash. I told her I'd check my stuff once more and I'll call her back if I find it, or if I don't find it for that matter. Did my rounds through my belongings. Still no good.

Now by this point I was really hating myself; earlier when I was taking the train back home, I ended up jumping onto the train going the opposite way. ...And then after that I took it one stop too far past my station. Suffice to say I was probably in no condition to be seen in public. And then, of course, this whole ordeal with the very-vitally-important registration card happens, and I was just about ready to throw my arms in the air, declare today as the Worst Day in Japan Evar, and then starve myself as punishment and eventually go back to sleep.

...But before that, I thought to check outside the apartment again; maybe it was somewhere on the ground between the entrance of the apartment and where I got dropped off (an area of about 10 feet in diameter which I had already checked earlier, but perhaps not quite so thoroughly). Billy was just leaving his room at the same time to stop by the konbini for some drinks, so I whined to him a little about my situation, and he sympathised.

The rain was a little harder now than it was earlier when I had ran out to the apartment so I had my umbrella in hand. I followed Billy out the door, and quickly raised my umbrella and clicked it open.


...My alien registration card.

It flew out.

Of my umbrella.

ffja;kdkfajsfhdklsadf;jaskdla WHAT.

I-I mean, thinking over the situation a little more, it kind of makes sense how it could have dropped into my umbrella without me noticing it, especially since it wouldn't have made a sound. But. Still.


Of course Billy laughed at me. And then I called Hibino-san to let her know about it, and she and Namioka-san probably rolled their eyes out of their sockets at me from behind the phone. Either way, my opinion of Japan has been briskly rescued away, and I celebrated by buying 1000 yen's worth of food from the konbini tonight. 8D

Other things have happened over the past week and a half (class starting for one, in addition to my near-death experience and run-in with the law), but that stuff can be saved for another day.


(There's still a chunk of Directions of Destiny orders that haven't been sent. After I finish giving all the shipping instructions to my mother, she'll have it taken care of. Apologies!)