Week 11 – I Didn’t Go To Tokyo

… Well, it ain’t like I ain’t going in the future. I’ve got like six weeks left and I guarantee I’ll find the time during one of them to take a nice day trip. As for why I didn’t take advantage of a free day to go and visit the biggest “no shit” tourist spot, it was mostly monetary.

Somehow after literally looking up prices for the bullet train a week or two ago, I managed to convince myself that the price was lower. Like, approximately 16 USD one way. In reality, It’s about 90-100 USD… one way. So It’s basically two times my weekly budget for food, plus whatever I end up spending in Tokyo since it would be a waste not to get some sort of souvenir.

Now I’m thinking I’ll put some money away on the side and save up so the cost isn’t as extravagant when I eventually go. Still, for the first time in a while, the budget really hit me in a nasty way and without a part-time job, I’m not exactly making that money back until I go back home and start working again.

But it wasn’t all for naught. I actually did way more this week than I initially thought I would, starting with a visit to a cat cafe…

Of course, I have pictures.

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Week 10 – A Pleasant Start to Summer

This had to have been the single greatest week so far, if only for the fact that the rather typical week of classes was bookended by some great stuff. Last weekend capped off with a viewing of Promare, the latest animated film by Studio Trigger, and I was amazed at the chance to see such a major animated film in Japan.

A few days after this is posted I will be putting up a post about my more detailed thoughts on the film on my other blog. Check it out if you are interested in animation at all. What I will say here is that the theater-going experience was fun and just like when I saw Endgame, I got a special collectible for the opening weekend. This time a dope little ID card of the main character.

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Week Nine – A Loss For Words

This week was the first time this term that I have felt truly stressed in a class. It wasn’t due to the homework or any upcoming tests, as the coursework here isn’t all that difficult. I was frustrated because I couldn’t find the right words to say in class.

Since arriving in Japan, I have continually challenged myself to express my myriad complex thoughts in Japanese. If I have something I want to say, I should try to say it in Japanese, even if I have to rethink my entire approach to saying what I mean. But when I can’t find the words, I pause and I simply cannot speak. I end up feeling trapped.

To add insult to injury, I found myself in a position after class where I was explaining to my teacher – who was worried I was having difficulties – this exact phenomenon. I was thankfully able to explain that when I can’t think of what to say, I freeze up and she understood, but when this stuff happens early into the class, I’m in a bad mood the rest of the time.

I’ve expressed for a while now that I don’t think I’ve been struggling in Japan the way that I expected to, but this moment made me rethink a lot of things. Am I interacting with Japanese people enough? Am I truly testing my Japanese skills thoroughly enough? If I can’t do either, why am I even here?

This was a small taste of what would be more intense if I went to a different school without NGU’s international appeal. I’m cursed and blessed with a lot of English speakers around me. Okay, I wouldn’t outright call it a curse but it definitely hasn’t pushed me out of my comfort zone as much, as happy as that makes me.

The truth is, Japanese isn’t super integral to what I aspire to do as a career. I took on this second major because I love the language and I was already planning on taking three years of Japanese classes. The study abroad trip is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and with only one or two extra classes in the major after the previous three years, it was a no-brainer.

The biggest lesson this week is that I should be glad that I’m meeting with my tutor weekly to chat for a little bit during lunch. I am passionate about Japanese and learning the language more because the culture of Japan speaks to me in a lot of ways. All that being said, I need to remind myself that I don’t need to beat myself up if I go back home not having improved a huge amount.

At the time this new journal entry goes up, I will be a little bit more than half-way through this trip. I’ve got to start planning trips to Tokyo and other places a bit more seriously in the time that remains so I can get the most out of my time here. Expect an entire post dedicated to Tokyo in the coming weeks, as well as possibly Kyoto, Hiroshima, or any other places this journey takes me.

Week Eight – The Coolest Freakin’ Field Trip

There is only one thing worth discussing this week and it was a group field trip to Mie province to stay overnight at an Onsen, or hot spring resort. We were to leave Thursday morning, spend the night and then get back Friday evening. Along the way, we would make stops at a shrine, a ninja museum, and even a cool little farm. It was delightful and I actually have way more photos than I have words to accompany them for once

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Week Seven – Back in the Swing of Things

At some point early this week, I asked myself if I was homesick, and I thought, “yes absolutely.”

I wasn’t asking because the symptoms were eluding me or because I was having a rough time AT ALL. Rather, I felt I needed to think it over because my time here has been legit great so far and I simply never considered homesickness to be anything other than a hurdle to jump over.

To my surprise, it stays with me kinda like the stress for an upcoming test: a completely natural and it will pass in time. Likely, whenever the next fun thing happens to take my mind off of things.

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Week Six – Golden Week

The only true break in my 15 weeks here in Japan comes in the form of Golden Week. It is a series of national holidays all grouped closely together. Historically, this period saw a spike in leisure activities, prompting Japan to just consider the entire week a holiday. I was familiar with Golden Week before coming to Japan and it is as satisfying as any other week-long vacation. That being said, it feels a lot more imperative that I do stuff since it is the ONLY real break I have during this term.

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Week Five – The Little Things

Man, I swear if I didn’t feel like it would be ill-fitting I’d just make this entire update a review of Avengers: Endgame, which I went to go see with some friends today. Of course, while I’m sure at least some people would be interested, I had a better idea. I’ve spent a month here in Japan. I’m officially one-fourth of the way through this trip and that is crazy, but there are all kinds of little things that set daily life apart from back in the states. So with no particular objective in mind, let’s run through three of these small differences that leave a big impression.

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