Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I'm a Marine

I guess this blog has been a little neglected, as all blogs tend to be after a while.  I’ve been busy with my school routine and I keep doing things which I’ve already discussed so I figured I wouldn’t repeat them here.  

Studying Japanese has its ups and downs.  Some days I feel like I’m not making any progress and I get so frustrated that I want  to give up, but other times I’m amazed at what I can understand and what I can say.  I guess if I want to stick with it I’m just going to have to realize that it’s going to take a lot of time.  I enjoy learning the grammar because it makes me feel like I can say things more accurately and it has a system of rules I can follow, but I find vocabulary extremely difficult.  I have a really hard time memorizing things and when there are 15 new words to memorize a day, I get overwhelmed very quickly.  The writing thing also makes things difficult.  If there was a roman alphabet I could reinforce what I’m learning by reading signs and menus, but as it is, I’m clueless at reading.  I do feel like I’m improving.  I definitely know how a bunch of new verb forms and I think I understand what’s going on a lot more, but I still can’t really communicate at all.  It would probably help if I wasn’t hanging out with foreigners all the time, but being around people I feel comfortable with has really helped improve my stay and helped me experience new things.  If they weren’t around I may speak better Japanese, but I might get lonely and depressed. 

Last week I decided that I was overdue for a haircut.  For some reason getting a haircut in Japan made me anxious.  I wasn’t looking forward to the awkward explanation of what I wanted and I was afraid it might come out all weird.  I asked around and Glen told me about a place called “Cut and Mist”.  He said he never understood the mist part since all he ever got was a cut.  Since Glen needed a cut too, he offered to show me how to get to the place which was close to the JR Namba station, about a 20 minute bike ride away.  When we arrived, I bought a 1000 yen ticket from a machine handed it to the haircutter guy and told him 4 on the sides.  It actually turned out ok if a little short.  Surprisingly, with my short hair, I keep getting mistaken for a marine.  I guess I’ll take that as a compliment?  I haven’t seen any marines in Osaka, but there are certain areas in Japan where they have a bad reputation for starting fights and being overly aggressive with Japanese women.  I guess this means no one will mess with me.

After the haircut, we went next door to a Subway restaurant which is apparently very rare in Japan.  Since the Japanese don’t really do sandwiches this was my first sandwich in Japan.  It was absolutely delicious.  I think it was probably only a little better than American Subway, but my sandwich craving made it like heaven. 

Last weekend Jullian invited me to a go-kart place.  It was an adventure just getting there.  We took the subway to Umeda, then two trains, and finally a bus to an island in Osaka bay.  It was kind of weird getting out of the city to somewhere with real open spaces.  The go-karts were pretty serious and might have gone up to 35 mph or so.  You had to wear a helmet and gloves.  The track was pretty cool with a straightaway and a couple of hairpin turns.  I kept trying to go as fast as possible which resulted in lots of uncontrolled spinouts.  Somehow, out of the five of us, I was consistently in second place.  Osaka’s Universal Studio park was near the go-kart track so afterward we walked around Universal City just outside the park.  It’s basically a bunch of restaurants and gift shops.  It felt a little dirty walking around an imitation version of America.  I was happy to leave.


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