Days 10 and 11: New classes, new students, shopping, and notes

Yesterday, I started the new class.  Unfortunately, it spent most of the time way below my current level, but some of it at least was a good review.  My kanji is still progressing the same regardless of class changes, amounting to about 10 kanji per school day, roughly half of which is review with added jukugo (kanji compounds).  I think for the rest of the material, it'll probably take a little while to get to the actual new stuff for me, but it's better than being lost the whole time.  It would be best if they just had an intermediate level.

We also got a few new classmates yesterday.  One student from Hawaii, and three from England.  The Hawaiian girl and one of the English girls are in the lower class, the other English people are in the upper class.  Potentially more people to associate with and make friends with, so that's all fine, but the Hawaiian doesn't seem very serious about this whole thing, which is disappointing.

After classes yesterday, we had the opening ceremony proper, since all the students are now here.  It was some Catholic (?) church service in mostly Japanese.  Fairly short and largely unintelligible except for the foreign student center's welcome to us, which I could mostly understand.  After the church part, we took pictures (I don't have any - they'll probably send them to us later) and they gave us dinner, which wasn't anything special.  Then we all introduced ourselves for the umpteenth time in front of all the host families, Japanese buddies, and so on.  We've done introductions every day except today, because we've had new teachers every day.  It's getting old.  I'm getting faster at it, though.

Between the morning classes and the evening opening ceremony, I decided that I would go shopping a bit at a store that my host mother had pointed out to me before: Book Off.  They specialize in used books, CDs, DVDs, and games, and had a few other things.  While there, I happened to meet up with 3 or 4 other students from my classes who apparently all had the same idea as me.  I bought Love Plus Plus, a very popular DS game, since it was cheap, I would be able to play it (DS games are region-free, unlike basically every other system), and it's largely voiced, which will help with understanding it.  It only cost 1,550 yen.  It was used, though.  I tried it out for about 10 minutes, playing a scene the previous owner had unlocked, and understood probably about 75-80% of the spoken lines, and 40-50% of the written lines.  Not bad, but I'll probably have to wait until I've learned quite a bit more before I'll really be able to enjoy it.

I also bought 3 small Da Capo figures for pretty cheap, and one large K-On figure for really cheap.  1,280 yen for a good 8-inch figure.  The same thing is at least $40 on eBay.  It's SEGA, so nothing too fancy to begin with, but still.  And yes, it should fit in my luggage with no problems.  I could have fit all my stuff easily into one suitcase, without expanding it, but instead brought two.  And I've since given away the presents I brought, which means I have even more space for things like figures on the way back.  3 or 4 will probably be the most large ones I can buy though, and I'll save the rest of that space for when I go to Akihabara.

As for today, we only had a half day of classes and nothing scheduled in the afternoon, so I've been home doing homework and stuff since then.  I don't think anything really interesting is likely to happen tonight.

Oh, some general observations and notes:
  • People park their cars backwards, almost without exception.
  • Ranmaru colors in pictures of groups of people, and all of them have black hair and medium brown skin.  Back in the US, I always see kids' pictures with all sorts of hair and skin colors.
  • Almost no one wears helmets on their bikes.  I've seen some small kids wearing them (probably around 5-8 years old), and a total of 2 teenagers wearing them.  And me.  And I see a few dozen bikers every day.
  • I'm sleeping on a futon, which I have to unfold every night and fold up every morning, along with all the blankets and stuff.  It's actually pretty comfortable, although this comes from someone who sleeps on a pretty hard bed every night at home anyway.
  • My presents, I forgot to mention, ended up all being food.  I brought a can of mixed nuts (nuts are expensive in Japan), a box of American made chocolates, and some Fruit Roll-ups and Gushers.  I wanted to get something from Mount Vernon or some other colonial center, but I didn't see anything that I could afford that would make a good gift.  They were all well-received, and no one had seen anything like the fruit snacks before.
  • Lots of people stare at me openly when I go by, at least off campus.  On campus there are several other foreign students (not just my group), so I guess they're used to it.  But lots of kids and even some teenagers or older people give me long looks.
  • There doesn't seem to be any sort of tendency towards walking or biking on the right or left side of the path/street.  People walk everywhere, and bikers go wherever there's space.  I try to stick to the left in general, but it doesn't really seem to matter.
  • There are a lot of signs that say something is prohibited.  Smoking, motorcycles, bicycles, fishing, entering, etc. etc.  They're everywhere.  I learned to read the kanji for prohibited pretty fast.
  • Lots of people ignore the signs.
No pictures today.  I think that's enough for one post.

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