08 September 2017 @ 12:19 pm
watched a youtube video about an american lady in japan... okay, good, she's at least learning japanese. comments that this video (with a japanese person) is in english "so that you guys can all understand" etc, i'm okay with that. no idea how long she's been in japan but it seems like at least a few years, based on some stuff she said.


then she said stuff like "sometimes there's kanji i don't know on the menu and google translate doesn't help". what was one of the kanji she didn't know? freaking HORSE MEAT. 馬肉. i fully understand there being kanji you don't know but if your level is so low that you don't know "horse" and "meat" you need to stop talking as if you're good at japanese... these are kanji you learn (or should learn) in your first year of studies.

in some ways "westerners" in japan are waaaay better than those i've seen anywhere else (you are, after all, going to a country and language completely different from the rest of the world in daily life in a lot of ways so it takes a certain kind of person to stay and live there), but then there's still plenty of normal ones that are left. i really REALLY do not want to be around these people. i don't want to be influenced by someone who still can't speak japanese or still doesn't eat japanese food after 10 years of living in japan. i don't want to look up, realize a year has passed and the majority of my company has been foreigners so we've taught each other language and culture mistakes and never experienced, well, japan for real.... that's not what i'm going to japan for.

i keep being weak and thinking i'm being too harsh. they're still just people, it's not their fault they're foreign, if they're nice then it's fine to be around them etc etc. buuuuuuut no, i have to stop that, that's falling into their trap...
08 September 2017 @ 01:22 am
man, my exchange school is so great!

they saw on my health certificate that i had aniridia and asked about it (admitting they know nothing about it lol, but usually no one does so i'm used to it) and i explained about my eyes and what kinds of stuff i tend to do for studying or need in class. i'm too tired of other struggles in life to put up with struggles in class due to my eyes anymore, so i made it really clear, i NEED large-print books or e-books, i DO handwrite worse and learn how to write more slowly than other people, etc. i can technically get by in life with normal-print books but it's going to take me 5x as long to read a page; same goes for handwriting, it's going to take me 3x as long to write that note. i really don't want to do stuff like be in japan and constantly panic over that i have to take 10 hours to read my 1 book chapter per week that i have to do for class.

anyway they replied saying that there's 40 students (10 per year) taking "visually impaired education courses" (= learning how to deal with visually impaired people) and 1 teacher at the school is entirely blind. they also have a deaf teacher who's apparently famous for being a super good teacher, so says my twitter friend. they sent an email to the local library asking how many large-print books they have, and said if i ever need any the school can order them to the school library for me! as a moving closing note, they said "We would like to support you as much as we can, so that you can have enjoyable and meaningful time in Sendai". it really means a lot to me. i've never asked for so much help from a school before. i'm already going to be extremely out of my element in japan, i really don't want to try struggling in ANY way with my eyes either. even though i was raised with the american "never ask for help because that means you're weak!!!" mindset, it never pays with this kind of thing.

in other news i'm buying this electricless handheld sewing machine tonight and will practice with it on fabric i was going to toss before leaving for japan, to see if it's worth taking with me / using:

if it's worthless i'll toss it before i leave and try an electric one in japan (which i'm planning on doing anyway, unless this handheld one is better than i imagine). the funny thing is the reviews! english-speakers have nothing but complaints and say they're worthless, the thread comes undone etc; japanese people only complain that it takes a while of practice (3+ times) before you can get a good straight line, they fix the thread at the end by knotting or burning it; swedes have zero complaints, say it works great, fix the thread by cutting it a certain way.

made "anko" (sweet azuki bean paste) by chopping up dates, simmering them in water for a bit to make date juice/paste, and then cooking the beans in it instead of normal water. tasted just like it should!! normally people use a ton of sugar instead; i've tried honey before and the results weren't so good.

i tried making sushi rice, added some of the date juice to the water it was boiling in; after the rice was cooked i dumped out the extra water, added in more date juice and let it cook a bit more. it did turn out sweet. i thought i'd try putting kimchi juice in with it and letting it ferment for a day or two then tasting it, but my wife wanted to eat it after just a few hours so i didn't get to see how the "fermented" taste would be... well, next time.
06 September 2017 @ 02:48 am
three weeks until i go to japan. THREE WEEKS!!!! !!! !!

the VISA stuff should finally be sorted out tomorrow morning and then we can go pick them up in stockholm next week. the other exchange student from my same school, while in general we're really similar and had a lot of the same ideas, she's coming with her entire year's living costs paid for by the japanese government (= won the single scholarship available) so her sense of what's "sensible" to buy during the exchange is somewhat screwed up; like while she thinks yeah, save money on beds, she also thinks it's fine to buy an actual normal full sewing machine while there. unless i misunderstood her...

i've been trying to research about different useful, cheap gadgets to buy (ex. an electric handheld sewing machine) and at what kinds of places we can eat at; but we really can eat at most places. you can even get pure squid legs on a stick from VENDING MACHINES. apparently if you just say "i'm not really hungry" you can get away with ordering any ingredient separately (ex. buying just toppings and not the full ramen). i'm going to try and find out about stuff like if we can get milk delivered to us from a farm, which doesn't happen here in sweden...

anyway, i still have cleaning and blog organizing to do before i go. it's really autumn now, it's getting really cold at night but is fine during the daytime (we have mice living in our house year-round eating up all our insulation, whatever little amount there ever actually was). so i'm just sitting here freezing despite that i'm wearing a wool sweater, sigh.
05 September 2017 @ 09:10 am
copyright is really freaking confusing. ignoring the whole "everyone's being strong-armed into copying america's copyright, and america's extending everything constantly just so mickey mouse won't go out of copyright", there's problems like this:

an author wrote in their will that they leave the copyright to their daughter, and after their daughter's death copyright will be donated to a certain library. instead the daughter in HER will gives the copyright to a friend, that friend sells it to a company; the library got a one-time payment on stuff that's still earning tons of money for that company. apparently this is legal.

the big problem seems to come when 1. copyright is given to heirs, 2. to companies. tons of people are having problems like, they're trying to translate a book and find out the copyright was given to the author's son, who isn't contactable. so they have no way of even asking about paying to acquire publication rights for their translation.

supposedly if you translate a work for free, and won't earn money on it, you can publish it online and you're not infringing copyright as it's counted as a "derivative work"... but as soon as you want money for it you ARE infringing. AND in terms of copyright law YOUR translation is counted as a "new work", it's copyright doesn't go out at the same time as the work you translated, because it's a "sufficiently original work". tell me, how the hell can an original/derivative work suddenly switch into a NON-original/derivative as soon as money's involved, eh?

then, even if you're reproducing the entire original book, if you just add NOTES it's counted as a new work because you've "edited it enough". so someone's republished the little house on the prairie with annotations and that's apparently fine to do.

so in the future i want to be a translator, right? well i was trying to search for how to even GET the rights to translate a book. everyone online just says "go to a publisher and ask to publish your translation with them, and they'll battle for the rights for you". what?! sorry but if you go to a "real publishing company", you'll only be earning like 10 cents per book sold. it's like slave labour. that's why translators are poor.
04 September 2017 @ 05:00 pm
While throwing out all my junk realized I have a ton of books I own but've never read. If I wanted to bring them with me they'd take up a lot of space/weight. To try and solve this I'm reducing their bulk and (eventually) giving them new covers so they look like something I'd actually want to read. I think that ESPECIALLY if you buy large-print books, or textbooks, doing this could really help out. The books definitely feel more "accessible" and "readable" now, it's kind of hard to explain.

For example, this 477g (22x15cm) hardcover book was reduced to 295g (18x13cm):

Read more... )
03 September 2017 @ 12:58 am
bought the plane tickets to japan: arriving oct 3rd, 8am.

been checking out how to buy bedding for 2 days now; cheapest seems to be buying it online at a store called "nitori", which does free delivery. the problem is 1, what kind of ID can i show the postman? does my passport work? and 2. will i be too busy/away from the student apartments to be able to pick up my package when the postman arrives? i really don't to go 1-2 weeks without a bed and blanket... in october....
02 September 2017 @ 02:26 pm
• picked up my reading glasses (they cost $450-500 USD total). WOW, they help a LOT!

what i never realized before is that because my eyesight is so bad, my eyes are naturally already focused on everything that other people consider as only "reading distance". so suddenly i can find items easier, i can read the computer easier, i can actually read those little cards and stuff that are at the cash register, and since my "distance vision" was so bad already i haven't actually noticed any difference there. the eyeglasses guy said it's only a small change from my other glasses but when your eyesight is this bad, a tiny change that other people would ignore can still help you a lot.

• found out the problem with my bank card; they were sending the activation code to the wrong phone number (not my fault). i should get the code in the mail on tuesday and then be able to order the plane tickets.

• found out that buying futons in japan will be a third (or less) of the cost of renting them from the school, and found out precisely where / how to get them. you can even order them online and get free delivery. luckily the other exchange student coming from my school is really similar to me and my wife, and is agreeing with / already thinking about basically all the ways we're talking about for setting up our student apartments / saving money and stuff so it's pretty nice.

• ramped up the cleaning (it's a bit hard since we have no car and have to walk 20 minutes to the grocery store just to drop off trash); feels really good to finally toss everything that i ever "didn't use". books? toss. decorative paper? toss. broken clothing? toss. no matter how much i like it, i have to find a way to toss everything so i'm down to just a backpack and a suitcase. in the process you also find out what's actual good quality, ex. i have some pens and erasers i've barely used in 5 years and yet they still work as if they were brand-new.
01 September 2017 @ 09:12 am
It's already painfully obvious that in Japan too it's way cheaper to make your food at home than to buy it. 700 yen for 9 pieces of sushi (using maybe what, 1/2 or 2/3rds of a slice of fish?), when a whole slice of that same fish would only cost 130 yen? "Fruit pies" that cost 500 yen when the amount of fruit inside is only worth 100-200 (a whole kiwi's 100, but they only put two SLICES of kiwi in).

As soon as you get into any pre-made food at all the price skyrockets. There's no real pre-made food (other than tofu) under 250 yen but you can get 600g bananas, 300g octopus/beef/fish eggs, 3 salted mackerels, 5 eggplants etc for that amount.

Anyway. Googled "Sendai convenience store" with the intention of comparing food prices for stuff like pre-boiled eggs (just because everyone online says "if you need to, you can always eat those") and on their homepage was a big ad "looking for staff!!". I thought, well, they probably want work experience and shit, I can't work there... but I'll read the ad description anyway, because I haven't in fact yet SEEN a low-level job in Japan where they even asked you for your resume/CV. Maybe they ask it of you when you actually come to the place to get the interview?

But they specifically pointed out that they have foreign/exchange student staff, and had an interview with one where he said he just went into the convenience store right next to his house, asked if he could get a job (dunno if they were already hiring) and they gave him one; and "no one cared if I couldn't say anything or didn't know what to say, they just coached me on what to say next time in that situation" and "they said, more importantly than words, to just smile". (Apparently you're really supposed to smile at the convenience store but it honestly seems like people are genuinely enjoying working there so...)

And so I was really moved and started tearing up... In the 5 years I've lived here in Uppsala I haven't even gotten to the interview stage for a job. Not convenience stores (which basically don't exist anyway), not McDonald's, not for any cafés, can't even get babysitting jobs because those require a driver's license and childcare permit. And here I am stumbling across random "we hire exchange students!!" jobs by CHANCE where they have what seems like REAL (not faked to seem better) testimonies by workers. I was also struck by how real the testimonies seemed for other jobs — you don't say stuff like "yeah we even teach people who've never hired a knife before, don't you worry" unless you're being real. You'd say something like "inexperienced people are welcome!" and leave it at that.

Then I clicked on another interview by an "inexperienced person" at that same shop: "I first walked into this store by chance and was shocked at how everyone was smiling and seemed so happy, and I thought if it's here, maybe I can learn to smile too... When I applied for a job there I felt really weird about the uniform and stuff but after a while I ended up being able to smile naturally. And then one day someone called out to me "hey brother, nice smile! Keep at it!" and I was so happy/shocked I couldn't form a facial expression or think of how to respond. That was the first time anyone's ever complimented my smile. Afterwards I heard that that same customer who complimented me tended to get mad at the other staff members whenever they made small mistakes. So then I learned, wow, a smile really does affect even those kinds of people."

i mean, the store's really pushing the american-style "you must smile!!!" propaganda shit BUT i am a guy who smiles a lot anyway so it doesn't matter to me.
31 August 2017 @ 09:29 pm
got a call from the embassy today. my VISA's all ready and done, but because the embassy website has wrong / missing info when it comes to bringing your spouse along with when you're a student, we have to get a bunch of different / new stuff for my wife. told them to fix their site and they said they won't. and the guy sounded really cranky on the phone even before i had talked to him.

apparently i'm the first exchange student EVER who's been married + bringing their spouse along with, to this specific school that i'm going to. so i bet they're going to be pretty curious about my wife... when i was in iceland i was "famous" for being the youngest person in the uni (since i graduated high school a year early & stuff), not that it gave me any perks or got me any special friends or anything.

bank PIN code still hasn't come. tomorrow's friday; if it doesn't come in the mail i'm calling them to ask them when it's coming. plane ticket prices are rising by the day and that's reaaaally bad. my wife says i should've called the bank to ask when the PIN's coming like 2 days ago but they always seem to send the PIN a few days apart from sending the card-readers so i think this is probably just normal; and it's a huge fucking pain to call the bank so i really don't want to (waiting 40+ minutes each time, having to dial in my social security number each time and if you mess up even once you're sent back to the queue, explaining my problem 4 different times because no one LISTENS to what i'm actually saying. "my card is locked, i have no working PIN code" "okay well, please put in your PIN code!" "it says my card is locked" "oh is that so?? you went and locked your card eh??")
30 August 2017 @ 09:57 am
after frying tallow to get the oil out you're left with leftover bits of hard, fried tallow (i've been keeping them in the fridge alongside the liquid tallow). today i woke up, didn't eat breakfast for a while, glanced in the mirror and my eyes had some redness — so i purposefully ate some of those fried bits of tallow while standing in front of the mirror. AND I LITERALLY WATCHED THE REDNESS DISAPPEAR! within a minute of swallowing it had receeded and was gone!! your eyes don't get cured this fast from any medicine!

can't believe i lived all my life without eating this stuff!! tallow is apparently the original:
• moisturizer, grease (for metal)
• nail polish, lip gloss, hair gloss, tooth polish
• chapstick, hand cream
• eye medicine, daiper rash cream
• salad oil, frying oil, butter
• bird feed, cat food, dog food

anyway. yesterday i finally got to send in the stuff to request my VISA. still having problems with the bank so i still can't order plane tickets or pick up my reading glasses. if worse comes to worst i'm gonna just open up a new bank account... not much time left.

the esperanto-japanese yuri game had a radio program:

i haven't finished listening to it yet but it's "easy talking" so i've understood a whole lot.

also my japanese friend (from the online game i play) is helping me figure out how to get a cell phone in japan - turns out we can't use our swedish ones for ANYTHING there. we can't even surf on free wifi without having to pay money!!
28 August 2017 @ 09:09 pm
started (re)watching shin sekai yori ("from the new world"), this time in japanese with japanese subs. it's really difficult! the most difficult anime i've tried so far! it's got technical words, made-up words, archaic grammar, AND super-polite grammar. luckily starting from the 4th episode most of that's died away and it's gotten a lot easier but those first few eps made me want to give up...

one month left until japan. still waiting on bank stuff to come in the mail so i can order the plane tickets. started cleaning my room, am finally tossing almost all my books (ones i've hung on to for around 6 years, since i was in iceland, but never actually read...), suddenly it feels like there's so little time left.

watched a bunch of youtube videos (recent ones! some filmed just last month even!!) of the neighbouring building to where i'll be living in japan; the japanese students and foreign exchange students are in separate buildings for some reason, but that seems to be common world-wide actually (if not separate buildings, then at least separate rooms — natives are always roommates with natives). but i quickly noticed, most of the exchange students are hanging out with other exchange students, and japanese people who speak english. they're sitting there making these youtube videos in english. i'm gonna make mine in bad japanese and just sub them in english, i'm gonna speak only in japanese as much as possible in japan. i'm gonna speak japanese to the other exchange students if i talk to them, not english.

for the moment, i'm only guarenteed to be in japan for one year. anything could happen that prevents me from actually moving to japan after my exchange, so i have to make the most of my time. i thought i'd live in iceland for 5+ years, get a part-time job, get two 3-year degrees there, get fluent in Icelandic, become a citizen - hah! i barely made it 2 years and haven't even visited or used icelandic since! and had to start my degree all over again in an entirely different subject! and of course, no job anywhere! at age 25 i'm nowhere near what i thought i'd be, or where i thought i'd be living, when i was 15 or even 20.
26 August 2017 @ 05:22 pm
been trying to cook some new stuff lately:

bought tallow for the first time, made french fries. at least we know it's healthy: my wife, who normally gets heartburn from any kind of french fry (even if it's using coconut oil), didn't get any from these. even though i double-fried them.

grocery store...

here's me

Read more... )
25 August 2017 @ 05:31 pm
• tallow's working great. i'm using it on my skin twice a day, also used it to make french fries, also used it to grease my blind man's cane. i think i'm slowly growing to enjoy the taste more and more (i'm using it instead of butter / coconut oil for frying, when i do use oil for frying).

• trying coconut oil + lemon juice on my head for dandruff. i've had dandruff my whole life and was always told it was just a "runs in the family" or "is natural" kind of thing (which gets worse if i use shampoo), but then i read that it's usually caused by a certain fungus that's super common: this coconut-lemon thing seems to have worked after just 1 application. it stung a LOT, especially just above my forehead, and was impossible to wash out of my hair (it's mostly out now… after 3 showers; but keep in mind, i don't use shampoo or conditioner), and i just kept rubbing it into my scalp and throughout my hair until it didn't sting anymore. the next day i didn't seem to have ANY dandruff at ALL (even got my wife to check for me). i won't try it every day but i'll do it once a week for a few weeks just to make sure it's really dead. after that i'll try putting tallow in my hair and see what happens.

eating the tallow is also noticably good for my teeth; i've barely been eating any at all but my teeth are whiter and have no plaque at all (i've regularly achieved "no plaque" before, but it seems to be a lot easier with the tallow), and my tongue is a healthy pink/red (no hint of white). that's probably not ONLY the tallow, as in it's probably the overall combo of the coconut oil, kombucha and tallow together (it's not like i eat them all at once, i just have a bit of them all once a day) along with not eating processed foods/table sugar etc.

regarding the kombucha: it's definitely easier to get it to work properly when you use dates as opposed to honey. and dates are cheaper.

also i've found out that eating in japan is going to be extreeemely easy even with my diet. apparently you can order stuff like "salt-only grilled chicken" (= sauceless yakitori), "salt-broth soup" (= sugarless etc soup, just seaweed and salt), "only-toppings ramen" (= noodleless ramen) and no one cares, on top of that the convenience stores have stuff like plain boiled eggs. waaay easier than in sweden. we found the advice that "just plainly say that you're allergic to wheat, they won't really understand anything else" and "in everything except big chain restaurants you can ask what's in the food and since they've made it in the shop itself all the workers know; in fancier restaurants they might or might not be careful about your allergies, because either they get set meals from somewhere else or they have a reputation to uphold".

apparently the grilled sweet potato carts are often outside the grocery stores. i'm gonna be living the good life...
24 August 2017 @ 09:01 am
tried the french-fry-leftover tallow on my face last night before bed, and then again just now (a bit more this time than last night). there's a really noticable difference in both look and feel just a couple minutes afterwards, my face is insanely soft now etc. so it seems to work fine for your skin even when you've already been frying with it.

next i tried cleaning off the joints of my (collapsible) blind man's cane with it, you're supposed to use "normal hand lotion" but i don't own any so i put it off for months; the tallow worked great! in the process i realized "oh, that's right: you put GREASE on metal. tallow is GREASE. hand lotion is just FAKE GREASE." i've never had to grease anything before (though i know, in theory, you grease stuff like door hinges) so it was another eye-opener... looked it up and sure enough, tallow was one of the natural shoe polish methods prior to the 1900's as well...

then i was about to make my banana-chocolate stuff ("dry/painful eye medicine": coconut oil + cocoa powder + cloves + cinnamon mixed together and poured onto / mixed into frozen bananas) and realized, waiddaminute, normal chocolate has COCOA FAT in it! tallow is fat! LET'S TRY IT!!!

right now i'm trying a mix of cocoa oil + the french-fry tallow because the tallow has a kind of potato-y taste and i'm not sure how strong it'll be in the chocolate, but once i run out of this i'll try "pure" melted tallow and see how it goes. i get really excited when i think i've found something i can easily/cheaply do to make my diet / looks better...

also, i've known ever since i was a kid (since i read a lot of books) that people used to make candles out of tallow, but i didn't realize sterene candles are literally tallow-replacement candles. melted-then-cooled tallow is exactly the same colour and even a similar texture. beeswax candles are my fave (i can still remember the smell from using them as a kid) and i really hate sterene candles but this opened my eyes a little...
23 August 2017 @ 10:05 pm
finally got to try cooking with tallow; i've never been allowed to buy it before because "the parents / sisters will complain about the smell". well actually it just smells like beef or something, nothing bad (to me anyway — and i absolutely hate the smell of real beef).

it's expensive on first glance but you get a big chunk of it, a little goes a LONG way, and you can constantly re-use the leftovers after you've cooked something. i tried making french fries and now i'm just done with french fry attempts: takes WAY too long, never turns out all that great (too undercooked, too overcooked, whatever), but i've kept trying until now because my wife is still mentally addicted to crap food and still complains about not getting to eat fries and chocolate. her family, unlike mine, is full of obese people who comfort eat and use EVERYTHING as an excuse to eat "good food" (= junk food) so it's actually an emotional attachment that she's been raised to have, that she has to try and break. but anyway, i poured the leftover melted tallow into a cup, let it cool down and it turned all white (from a yellow liquid), and put it in the fridge. and will reuse it.

the first thing i noticed was that full-fat bacon (it's not called "bacon" anymore if it's full-fat) helps my eyes out in a similar way as coconut oil only seemingly not as potently. now it's the same with the tallow. i only ate a few (like 4) of these french fries and already noticed it. it makes sense, from what i remember coconut oil is like the only vegetable fat that mimics animal fat in your body... also i noticed that after eating it i felt warm, like the fat was actually giving me body heat. i don't know yet if the tallow is weaker or stronger in effect than the coconut oil; normally i take 3-4 spoonfuls of coconut oil and i haven't tried to pour 3 spoonfuls of tallow over any of my food yet...

apparently tallow is fantastic as moisturizer for your skin because it's made up of almost exactly the same stuff as healthy human cells. i don't know how good it is when it's "oil" i've been frying potato slices in for like 3 hours but i'm trying it tonight anyway — took a shower, put some on afterwards, and it's definitely softened up my skin.

it's also clearly helping my teeth. when you eat healthy your teeth are shiny and smooth/slick, and your plaque disappears and/or comes off in "sheets" from your teeth (you don't need a toothbrush, you can simply push all the plaque off with a swipe of dental floss, or by eating a carrot, etc). so for example, you can have some plaque in the morning, eat some super nutritious food and by evening will have noticed that your plaque is less. i don't know why it happens (other than that healthy spit is antibacterial?) but it happens. anyway, if i eat kombucha or something else fermented it has a similar effect, so tallow seems pretty good so far...

i even read that tons of americans are getting huge amounts of tallow completely for free. they just go to the butcher and he gives it away because otherwise he'd have to toss it. or a friend gives a ton to them. etc. this is probably the only advantage americans have over other people (besides speaking english): no one there eats offal so all the most nutritious parts of the animal are cheap and/or free lol.

in sad news, i can't for the life of me figure out how to make nuts edible. after i quit all processed foods i lost my tolerance to nuts as well, and i though all i had to do was soak them — i think (think: i haven't kept good track) that soaking and then baking is fine if it's squash/pumpkin seeds but cashew, peanut, hazelnut, poppy etc i just can't get to work. i always get stressful dreams or worse after i eat them, even if i've soaked them. it's annoying...
23 August 2017 @ 01:46 pm
just checked out a ton of jobs on this one job site for sendai i found.

basically all the entry-level jobs are "everyone is ok! housewife, exchange student, old person, whatever! completely inexperienced people are welcomed, we normally take them! if you need to change or skip a shift just ask! easy work! working for only a month and then quitting is actually just fine!". they're so casual they're even putting emoticons and "lol" in the job description pages. and most of them WANT you to work in the evenings or at night (like 9pm-1am) which means I'd actually be able to come back home afterwards and sleep a bit before class, do my homework / get groceries after class and still have time to mess around before going to work, if it came to it.

stuff like café work, ramen places, conveyor-belt sushi places, basically all you do is take out / remove food and then little by little they show you how to do stuff in the kitchen. they're basically saying that it's ridiculously easy work and in some places you can even "choose to only do shifts with your friends if you want to". if you get into any "fancier" level of work (convenience stores, diners) they also teach you "good manners and polite language" and you might have to memorize the menu.... but still, nothing too bad. those fancier places also seem less friendly. i'm not going to try for those, i need the friendliest, most-casual place ever for my first job... I've never had a job y'know...

the other unskilled work is either one-time stuff ("help out with this one marathon") or secretary/call jobs. i haven't yet seen one that was a delivery job or specifically needed you to have a car/bike. also none of them have said anything about you needing to know japanese, but obviously you have to know enough to be able to do whatever job you're doing...

the salaries are normally 800-900 (high end: 1000; intro month's low-end: 700) yen per hour. even working part-time, in one month that should be enough to pay for one person's rent and groceries.

it's unclear if i could jump from part-time to full-time and actually get a work VISA from any of these, but i'm so relieved that it seems completely different from looking for work in the US and Sweden.
23 August 2017 @ 08:28 am
Got my JLPT N2 (Japanese test) results: I just barely failed. You needed 19 points in each section to pass, which I got, but also needed extra points in each category so your total was at least 90, mine was 80.

Considering ½ of the way through I completely gave up due to my eye pain and was just answering at random (especially the listening and long reading parts; how in the world my highest score was listening I have no clue), I’m surprised it even got this high really.

Vocab, Grammar: 27 / 60
Reading: 23 / 60
Listening: 30 / 60
Overall: 80 / 90
Reference Grade: B

But this DEFINITELY means that if I take the exam again in December (or whenever the next one is) it’s 100% guarenteed I’ll pass even IF I have eye pain!

My plan is to just go around looking for part-time work during my exchange and if it seems like I can’t get anything without having “proof of Japanese knowledge” like this test, I’ll sign up for N2 again. I’m assuming that once you get your first job, any later employers can just call those first guys and confirm that you actually know Japanese so it shouldn’t be a problem after that, right…
22 August 2017 @ 09:39 pm
finished the first of 4 (including the sequel series, 8) .hack games in japanese. i understood nearly 100% of the dialogue, 95% of the in-game forum posts + emails, and 80-90% of the item names / descriptions. now that i'm playing it while actually understanding it all, it feels like there's not actually that much text / dialogue. for some reason it's not making me feel all that happy, i guess because i'm focused on the fact that there's still so much i don't know in general (newspapers etc) right now. the game has fake news articles btw.

i've just started the second game, some characters use more words i don't know and so far those chars are showing up more often. i can't really learn words from context from this game because there's too little context help, i'm just refreshing my memory on ones i already know (like 冒険 "adventure" which i forgot, but remembered after seeing a few times).

as for anime, i've been trying different ones but they all suck.... sadly the most promising ones are death note and a joke series about pigtail-girls
19 August 2017 @ 08:26 am
i've started playing the .hack// games again (first four original ones), it's a simulated MMORPG where your friend goes into a coma in your first day of playing, and you see the in-game event that makes that happen so you spend the rest of the game trying to figure out how to get his consciousness back. meanwhile the game slowly gets more corrupted and impossible to play. i think it's really fun in part because to me it's almost a perfect RPG — you have a fake forum, fake other players, most things are voice-acted, the fighting pauses when you have your menu screen open, the PS2 controls are really good (when my controller works, anyway) etc. if you wanna play it, it's in japanese, english, german and some other languages. as for the japanese version, to some extent the different characters talk differently, but i don't think anyone uses dialect until you beat the game and unlock parody mode (which doesn't exist in other-language versions).

anyway when i last played this 2 years ago i understood basically nothing. i didn't even know kanji like "speed" so i couldn't tell my speed scrolls from my billions of other items for example. now i'm understanding.... 90-95% (so far anyway). since i'm using an emulator i can just screencap words i don't know and look them up later, along with not having to worry about "game overs" because i can just save constantly, it's great.

in other news: i got the info for the student apartment i'll be staying at while in japan. it'll be $400-600 USD a month in rent depending on how much electricity, internet and water cost. that means i'll probably have $400 a month for everything else for two people (food, transportation, general activities etc). we're going to try and reduce costs as much as we can there: coats/blankets instead of the heater, lights off during the day, eat leftovers cold (or by candle-power) and so on. my friend warned me that cheaper apartments are normally traditional ones and thus really drafty and often broken; we don't have any choice but it's good to know in general.

i did a quick job search by just googling "sendai foreigner part-time job" and found a job-search site where you can specifically click that you're a foreigner/exchange student, and there were a lot of jobs (even lots of "no experience required at all!! even if you've never held a cooking knife before!!" kinds of jobs), at the bottom of one i looked at they even said "just say exactly this on the phone and we'll understand you're looking for the job, don't worry!" as if they were used to people scared of phones etc, so things seem preeeeetty nice in japan...

i still have these tasks to do:
— call bank, activate my debit card
— clean room, scan books, toss basically everything. have to stop holding on to "but this will be useful someday" (ex. icelandic books i haven't read even once since buying them 5 years ago) and just toss it. since the majority of the problem is books, if i just scan/upload them for safekeeping i'll be fine with tossing them.
— clean out all my files and bookmarks from all the computers i use; upload and make backups of whatever i keep. again i have to just throw away old projects instead of thinking i'll "finish them someday"; whenever i DO go back to a project i completely restart it from scratch so most of my stuff is basically useless anyway
— see if we can't fix that old comp i have to take it with me to japan instead of my newer one (it's far less likely to break than the modern one i'm using, because 10+ years ago comps were actually sturdy)
— translate the entries on my exchange blog
18 August 2017 @ 05:55 am
4-5 months ago in class we read this story:

back then i understood maybe 20-30% of it, but reading it now i understood more like 80%. it hasn't even been half a year, summer vacation isn't even over yet, that's a really big jump.