“it is the distant future, the year 2000”

9/1/11   7:17

Sorry the past few posts have been more like lists than actual entries. When stuff piles up, I am in such a rush to record everything that I forget how boring it must be to just read off sequences of events. SORRY. -_-;; I’ll try to keep this one short.

~ ~

Ryan versus the Japanese Robo-toilet:

First thing I encounter when I woke up this morning: Spaceship toilet seat. If the scary control panel was not reason enough to be suspicious, I was definitely caught unawares by the heated seat. Possibly a boon in winter, but rather unnecessary in the heat of a Japanese summer. It sort of weirded me out so i was on guard with this alien toilet from the get-go. On the master controls, there were various buttons. Powerful Deodorizer? Flushing sound? Bidet? Spray? I couldn’t really tell the difference between the two. The spray had an easily recognizable figure of a butt with dots of water coming at it. The bidet had a woman seated on a fountain. I guess I can logic it out given the pictures, but one can never be sure. Now… I figured, I might as well try this. And let me tell you, one of the things that you do NOT want to experience first-thing in the morning is a thin stream of warm water aimed and firing directly at your anus. It was overall uncomfortable and hilarious and there I sat, cracking up silently in this bathroom stall mashing the “lower water pressure” button repeatedly and trying not to fall off of the seat. As hygienic and environmentally friendly as this whole bidet thing is, I still can’t see myself agreeing with the practice -_-;;

In any case, eventful morning, I’d say.

~ ~

After much deliberation, which followed a series of surprise course cancellations, course additions, and course conflicts, I have selected my classes for the fall semester.

All students are required to take a 5 day/week spoken Japanese course and I’m taking an accompanying 3 day/week reading/writing course.

The 3 lecture courses I’m taking are as follows:

– Popular Culture as Social Practice [Exploring Japanese sub-culture groups (dojinshi, fujoshi, gyaru) and analyzing how fandoms exist as a sociological construct]

– Pilgrimage: Journeys in Search of Meaning [Examines the religious and secular pilgrimage tradition mostly in Japan, but also in other parts of the world]

– Contemporary Topics in East-West Psychology [Issues in developmental psychology and treatment in the east and west]

Hopefully nothing will change. There’s a 30 student cap on each class and if they go over, the roster is chosen by lottery. :x

As for our language courses, we had to take a placement test to see which level we would be enrolled in. I had scored high enough on the initial testing to get an interview to be conducted entirely in Japanese, which was really scary and nerve-wracking. The interviewer was actually really nice though and told me this was just a background information check and not a test. Even though it probably was a test to see if I wasn’t totally derp at speaking. He praised my scores a lot which made me a little uncomfortable and said that the teachers at UF must work hard to get us to this kind of level. [And they are. Thanks, Uotate-sensei and Nakamura-sensei! :D] He asked me if I’d be comfortable reading Japanese newspapers and discussing their contents. And finished by telling me very politely that it’d be great if I could practice my conversation skills more. This leads me to believe that I’ll be placed in a higher level reading class and a speaking class one level under that. We’ll see.

~ ~

What happens when you take a whole bunch of foreigners, plop them in a foreign country, and keep them in close quarters? They follow the safety in numbers rule. I will now condense a few people into their name and a few short sentences [if that].

– Ezra: Tufts University. Poli Sci. Looks like Andy from the Office which makes me subconsciously want to get him together with Erin, the receptionist. I also sometimes call him Andy out loud but I don’t think he’s heard me yet. Plays Quidditch.

– Jesse: Also Tufts. Biomedical Engineering. Not yet 20 and in Japan, that means not yet legal, although I doubt any Japanese will try to ask him for an ID if he tries to buy a drink or anything. Such is the nature of the 外人 – gaijin – (n.) foreigner.

– Stephanie: [I’m sorry, I forgot what University in California you went to ;_;]. Middle name is Asako. Half Chinese and half Japanese so it is no surprise that she is petite. Almost 23. Takes pictures of food.

Marissa also apparently thought this was an erotic photo shoot. -_-;;

~ ~

Miscellaneous:

– Sometimes when Japanese men shake hands, it is the most awkward thing in the world. Lol. I realize this is because shaking hands is a western practice and Japanese people would rarely greet someone that way let alone be taught how to do it in “correct Western style.” But anyway, I saw a Japanese male student approach a white exchange student and they shook hands. The Japanese man did the whole limp-noodle kind of hand-shake and lingered for a very long time until his hand sort of fell out of the other guy’s in an awkward sort of caress. It was rather hilarious. Ayashii kedo, I like it.

– I really like my Japanese cell phone. I like that it has hiragana on the keys and 1124014708 emoticons pre-loaded. I like how it’s almost impossible to type in English [there’s no T9] so it forces me to express my thoughts in Japanese.

– My room-mate came in today. He’s from the University of Denver and his name is Tom. What is with me and getting roommates named Tommy/Thomas/Tom/Rommy/Romulus? Jk on the last two. He’s chill though. Although everyone I’ve ever met from Oregon/Washington is chill. I need to go there someday.

– Okonomiyaki is a Japanese dish consisting of various vegetables, a lot of shredded cabbage, and your choice of meat, all held together by an egg batter of sorts, topped with bonito flakes/sauce/optional mayonnaise. It’s a specialty of Western Japanese cuisine and seeing as there was a hole-in-the-wall place directly across from the seminar house, a few of us decided to go. After we paid, the old lady proprietor gave us little hand-made coupons for 50 yen off our next meal. Mine had a little panda on it. :D

– Next to the restaurant was a liquor store. They have beer vending machines outside ._. This is quite awesome.

– Why does the sun come up at 5:00. Aa;sdlfajsdfoiebafs;dlkfn.

~ ~

I now leave you with a question:

“Do you have to give up your personality in order to fit into a foreign society? Of course fitting in is preferable, but is it necessary?”

Everyone knows Americans have a reputation, especially abroad, of being opinionated and loud. The reputation rings true when I’m with a group of exchange students and we are the loudest ones on the bus. Or in the room. Or on the entire street [that one was a little embarrassing…]. There’s no doubt that if we took up the Japanese cool and collected public manner, that we’d be less noticeable/cause for concern/derision. I can’t say that we’d go completely unnoticed, though. For the most part, I’m not a very loud person, and I feel like I could pull off being silent and agreeable in public, but for those with a tendency towards extroversion, is it right or worth it to compromise who you are in order to comply with a society’s norms?

I guess it depends on how much you care.

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