Doshisha: Mid-Semester Update

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Getting fat with Vi. Could not eat dinner after I ate the parfait and shaved ice. Someone call me a doctor please.

My study abroad experience at Doshisha has been a totally mixed bag of happiness and annoyance. I’m mostly annoyed that it’s going by so quickly and I haven’t done everything that I wanted to do yet. I wish I could stay here for the rest of the year, but all too soon I’ll be heading back to California.

In this post:

  1. Update on what it’s like in my classes
  2. Things I do outside of class
  3. Everything that sucks right now

Coursework

Japanese

My Japanese classes are so fun and relaxed. I slack off a lot. LOL. I never do my homework on time. I’m always trying to do it right as my sensei checks. There’s only 6 people in my Level 1 (actually 0) class and when we’re done, sensei says we’ll be able to pass N4. Haha not very high, but at least everything I learn is sticking because we go so slow and do a ton of practice. Kanji is my only weakness. Hehe. I got 12/20 on one of the quizzes… yikes. #WHYUSEKANJI. My listening and speaking skills are much better than my writing skill. If I strain, I can pick up 30-40% of what’s being said in an anime. I definitely don’t understand the full sentence, but context + vocabulary is doing me well.

I heard from the Australian kids that last semester there was only one person who tested into level 0. As a result, she was taught one-on-one for the entire semester. She learned more than all the other students who were in level 1 and 2. I’m so jealous ~~~ Our level 0 class is certainly smaller than the other classes (only 6 people) but we still move pretty slow.

Electives

For my electives, I’m enrolled in a war crimes class and just finished up an applied math class.

The war crimes class is super easy, but it upsets me that such a serious topic isn’t taken seriously. Most of the class is either: watching movies or doing group presentations (mostly regurgitation of the class readings). The topics are really heartbreaking: child soldiers, siege, genocide, sex slavery… to name a few. Every time I do the readings, I can’t stop. I start reading everything I can find online and end up crying or getting really depressed. You lose a little faith in the world when you read about how the international community can so easily turn a blind eye. Trust. Although the class isn’t the most challenging nor enlightening, it does give me leads to chase after. For that, I’m grateful towards this class. I haven’t really taken many liberal arts classes in college, being a computer science major. I wish I had.

For the applied maths class, it was listed as a graduate course, but it was definitely only undergraduate level. Even the professor, Dr. Moody Ten-Chao (visiting from NCSU),  agreed that it was only an upper division course in America. At Berkeley, the material fits into two lower division classes… lol.

We learned about least squares application to GPS, NMF in data mining, and PageRank in link analysis. It was nice for me, since I skipped around so much at Berkeley and I actually didn’t take this prerequisite. It’s been a while since I’ve taken and understood a math-y class. Gosh, I’m dumb. It was so fun! There was only 3 students in the class. Even after 4 years of UC Berkeley, I’m scared of asking questions in class. But, because the class was so small, it felt more like I was being tutored by a really funny professor. Naturally, asking questions came so much easier. If I could have redone college, I would go back and be less passive with my learning. Biggest regret 😦

Fun Stuff

アルバイト (Part time job)

I have a part time job as an English teacher at a language cafe. Long Island Cafe near Kyoto Shiyakushomae. They pay average (1000 yen/hr) for an アルバイト。It’s low pay compared to America, but I’m a dumbass who spent too much money in the first two months, so I must. Heartbreak is so damaging on the wallet. On the plus side, I have a great time teaching and learning from the people I interact with. It’s a great place for me to experiment with different teaching techniques that I’m too scared to try when I’m GSI-ing a class at Berkeley. (Wow. This whole theme of being scared of doing things at Berkeley is ちょっと。。。)

Koto Lessons

I had huge plans to take Japanese Zither, Koto, lessons all while I was here, but お金がありません。私はめっちゃ悪い。I took one lesson here. It was great! Unfortunately, I got super sick the following week until now, so I’ve had no further chances. I was going to keep trying to shove in a bunch more lessons, but I think it might be best to just wait until I’m back in California. I found some instructors for the Vietnamese Zither that I’m now keen to learn under. Plus, it’ll be so much cheaper since I know my tiger mama can bargain in Vietnamese for me. Cheaper is always better. Hmm, but maybe I’ll do a few more while I’m in Japan since the sound is so soothing.

Tennis Circle

Shameful picture of myself in my cute tennis outfit. hehe. 80% of why I like playing tennis is because of mini skirts. LOL I’m so tan.

Oh yes. I’m in a tennis circle, though my journey there was not as simple as I had thought it would be (see previous post). I got rejected from clubs last minute for being a ryuugakusei. It was frustrating since I had informed them upon introducing myself. Couldn’t they have rejected me earlier? Luckily, I did some intense Twitter stalking and found Imperial Tennis Circle (see the side note). They took me in right on their deadline, and actually everything worked out! Bonus, this club has stronger tennis players. It was a hefty 10000 yen to join, but worth it. Saki is my friend from the club and we ate lunch together last Friday!!! She’s going to study in Vancouver starting August~~


Side Note: Term to search on Twitter is “同志社テニスサークル” —> “Doshisha Tennis Circle”. Establishing contact with the club through Twitter was impossible!! I had to dig through, find a picture of their flyer, ask my Japanese friend to add the club officers on LINE, and then share the contact with me. LINE is what all Japanese people use to chat on, but there’s a stupid age verification feature that blocks me from adding people by their username.


Friends

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Vi took a pic of me!

I hang out a lot with another Vietnamese girl, Vi, from UCSC. It’s crazy. She has the same name as my sister and was born in the same year. We sass at each other so much and it makes me miss my sister so much! We’re together a lot, but we’re also both here to immerse ourselves. Every lunch, we try to find Japanese girls to hang out with. Vi has much better fashion sense than me so she collects hella Japanese friends so quickly. Yaas, free friends for me by association ~hehe~. I feel like we’re always getting into crazy things together and scaring off all our かわいい 日本人の友達。(cute Japanese friends). Another great thing is that I’ll be going to Vietnam when Vi is going to go in August. We’re going to have so much fun.

An Underground Club in My Apartment Basement?

Socrates

Speaking of crazy… the basement of my apartment is an underground club for rock. I found out just last weekend. What was it like to stumble into a mosh pit in my pajamas (aka a dirty t-shirt and shorts)? Maybe next time I’ll tell more… A blog wrote about the club (see Socrates) just this March. Funny enough, it took me two and a half months to find out about it– they have some intense sound insulation.

Sucky Things

Being Actually Sick

I am sick and have been for the past two weeks! UGH! Can you imagine? It’s such a bummer. I’ve been extremely sick twice in the past 3-4 months. I’m so sick (pun) of it.

Home Sick

fullsizeoutput_7d7Also, I miss my friends and family. I video chatted with my siblings and completely failed at taking the screenshot. Ahhh~~ I love my siblings. THEY ARE SO CUTE. SO CUTE. My siblings are cuter, funnier, nicer, stupider, smarter, lovelier, shorter, and cooler than your siblings. hehehehehehe~~~~

And, the food here makes my tummy hurt. Such few veggie options. And, it’s so hot compared to America. AND I HAVE NO MONEYYYYYYYYYYY. I wasted so much prior to and at the beginning of coming to Japan.

Weight Gain and Addicting Snacks

AND I GAINED SO MUCH WEIGHT  >_< 4 kg. I eat so many snacks all the time. I feel like I’m addicted to sugar. I have always loved Pocky, but I’ve discovered that Pocky holds no candle to きのこの山。I fell in love with the special Marugoto Ichigo (Whole Strawberry) flavor, literally questing to find the flavor in every. single. conbini. It was so difficult to find, so I told everyone how much I love the flavor. My friends banned together to help me and my roommate’s mom even sent me the boxes below. Each time I open a box, I lose self control, and I can’t help but finish the whole thing. If there’s one thing I’ll be glad about when I’m back in America, it’s that I’ll be able to escape this addiction.

どうしてーーーーーーーーーー

きのこの山まるごと苺

大好きです〜〜〜〜〜めっちゃおいしいいいい

Used Kimono and Yukata in Kyoto

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Trying on a kimono… and then buying it. I’m thinking of wearing this for my graduation back in California. Or maybe the orange one? ARG. dunno.

I bought 3 formal kimono and 1 yukata… why? I have no idea. I think I’ll sell 2 of them off in America or before I leave. It was an impulse buy (めっちゃやばい!!!). Other than maybe for graduation, I probably won’t wear them ever. My favorite part about studying in Kyoto is the access to traditional culture. It’s uncommon to see people wearing kimono around the streets and I love it! I’m all wrapped up in looking at cute girls wearing cute kimonos and then buying them myself. I’m sad that I won’t have many occasions to wear them, though. One, my family would probably complain that I should wear more Vietnamese dresses (which I do…). Two, I need to be careful about cultural appropriation.

I’ll be writing about:

  1. My Yukata
  2. My Kimono
  3. Tips for Buying
  4. Where to buy

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