So this summer has been pretty nice so far. Despite not having a job and having no plan whatsoever for the 3 months, I really made out well when everything is taken into account. Here's a list of some of the more notable things:
1) Broke my computer, which resulted in...
1a) Got a Macbook
2) Went to Seattle and uprooted more Himalayan Blackberry bushes for my aunt than anyone should ever have to see in their life. And the hill was like a 60% slope...
3) After getting my Macbook, my old computer (still under warranty) was replaced with a new computer for free, which I had absolutely no need for anymore so I pretty much spent unnecessary money.
4) Painted a friend's house
Number 2 took the longest, but I also took my sweet time with it, working only a couple hours a day. It was nice to spend time with my aunt for the month I was up there though. Number 3 pissed me off more than number 1, and I hurt my back doing number 4. Number 1a was pretty exciting because hey, new computer! It also made me realize I don't have as big of a bulge in my ass-tight "skinny jeans" as most Portlanders do for Macs. God I hate how trendy they are - and now I'm encouraging it. Actually, I hate how trendy Portland(ers) are, but that's neither here nor there. By the way, I don't wear the "skinny jeans," I was talking about, I was just trying to make fun of how half of the males in Portland wear their little sister's pants.
I made money on 2 and 4, so that will definitely help me with my travels. Which brings me to the main point of this entry - less than two weeks until I leave! I'm scheduled to fly out of San Francisco on the 15th at 11:25am and arrive in Japan on the 16th at 2:10pm. Japan is 16 hours ahead of us here in Portland, and the plane ride is about 11 hours, so I'm trying to figure out how I should go about this so I won't have jet-lag from hell when I get there. They say you don't get jet-lag when traveling West, but I think it's an exception if you're flying over the International Date Line. Pretty much, I'm flying from the 5th LATEST time zone to the 10th EARLIEST one. If that doesn't make sense, which it doesn't, refer to this
page. I'm thinking about staying up most the night before my departure, and then sleep only a little on the plan so when I get to Japan in the afternoon I will be pretty tired, and then just suck it up and stay awake until that night, when I would just crash, and wake up at a normal hour. If anyone else has a better idea, please let me know.
With less than two weeks left to go before I arrive in Japan, you'd think I'd have been communicating and getting to know my future host family. I'd think so too, but we'd both be wrong. The program I'm going through REFUSES to tell the students ANYTHING about the host families they have picked out for us. They assured me they do have a family in mind for me, but their excuse for not telling me anything about them is that they give one final interview to the students when they arrive in Japan to double check if they matched them up with the best host family, and if they switch the host family on you based on that final interview, they don't want to have to explain it. I guess it WOULD be pretty crappy if they gave the student the contact information of the potential host family, and the student got to be friends with the potential host family before arriving in Japan only to find out they are going to be paired with a different host family because the final interview determined that the previous host family to-be was not the "best" for them. That last sentence was full of sarcasm, if that wasn't clear. I think it's absolutely ridiculous that, if they wait until the absolute last minute to decide who your host family is anyway, to give the students the option of communicating with the host family whether it be through broken English/Japanese and pictures, or collegiate level, essay style emails back and forth (the language proficiency levels of the students as well as host families varies immensely). Wouldn't that be a better way to arrange the host families? That way, if the student and family don't get along well for some reason, it can be determined earlier on. The same goes for if they get along great - they can be set and have peace of mind and be much more prepared for what they are about the encounter. I don't know, it just seems so simple to me, and when something seems so mindless to me, and is made so complicated beyond reason, it annoys the bejesus out of me. Enough of my ranting.
While I was in Seattle shredding my hands in the delicious blackberries that weren't quite ripe yet, there were many days it was just too hot or rainy to work, so I would stay indoors and practice my Japanese. I have started learning the 1,945 "basic" Kanji (Kanji are the Chinese pictorial characters that represent words as opposed to a single letter) that are taught in the school system through high school, and are needed to be able to function in every-day life in Japan. By this I mean that these 1,945 Kanji need to be known in order to read newspapers, books, or anything for the common person. Kanji that aren't in this so called "Joyo" group must have the reading written next to them so they can be read without problems. Anyway, I have been learning the meaning and writing of these Kanji (not the reading yet) and am up to 600. I did that in 2 weeks, so I think it's a very reachable goal if I just put my mind to it. The method of learning how to write the kanji and know what they mean before learning how to actually read them suggests that if you can recognize and put meaning to Kanji, it will be easier to remember how to read the Kanji when you see them when they come up in life, rather than learning all the readings before you ever see them on a street sign or menu. I think this is a genius idea, and it appears to be very compatible with my brain. To practice my Japanese further, I've found some good Japanese Podcasts as well as a couple dozen Japanese artists I found in the foreign CD section of the library that I have put onto my hard drive. Whenever I'm not spending time with people, I listen to Japanese. In Seattle, this was upwards to 18 hours a day, and I really can notice a change. I listen to spoken word Japanese in my sleep, and I have actually had multiple dreams with at least some, if not a very notable amount of Japanese in them. It's quite encouraging.
Anyway, it's getting pretty late and I should get my rest. I'm sick and want to get over it before I leave for Japan. Well, until next time!
Quote of the Day:"My applesauce tastes like toast."