11 October 2017 @ 07:21 am
going to my first day of school in a couple hours; long story short:

- japan is AWESOME buuut not having fluent japanese and not knowing "local knowledge" is really a huge problem. not even train station personell (the kind that sell student bus passes to foreigners) can speak english AND all the exchange students who came here last semester etc have magically forgotten what it's like to have NO CLUE what's going on. these guys also come from sweden and have only been here for 6 months and yet they don't understand that if the train lady asks if a card from x to y is alright, we have no clue where those places even ARE. an old man got kinda irritated at me if i asked when he was from sendai when we weren't precisely in sendai (we were like... 20min by bus away from it?) and i'm like, dude... i can't even remember the name of where i'm at right now since i just learned it half an hour ago, sendai is the closest i can get...

- TONS of food we can eat. most stuff that has sugar also has a "stevia" or "grape sugar" equivalent without normal sugar, including grocery store sushi and rice balls (almost none of the rice balls have real sugar in them). we can apparently eat stevia without getting sick. soy sauce without wheat and sugar is "rare" but you can still find it in the grocery store, same cost etc as all the other soy sauce (it has big DOESN'T USE WHEAT written on the bottle). carbonated water is rare but we still found it at one grocery store; the easiest thing to find and drink is tea (plain green tea is even in vending machines otherwise selling only coffee/soda). haven't yet found any food vending machines. we found 100% buckwheat soba and 100% mochi rice flour mochi (no sugar or anything else added) after a bit of searching in the grocery store. japanese meat doesn't seem to ever have anything added to it (beef seems to be plain beef without sugar etc, unlike in europe and america) except for when they've given it a sauce or breading.

so far we've liked everything we've eaten except for: umeboshi (pickled plums), bonito (dried mini fish you put in soup), some fruit/vegetable smoothies. haven't eaten at any restaurants yet.

some people (strangers, cashiers etc) are REALLY happen to see me, sometimes people stare in surprize (ex. when i was eating nattou in public). it's a lot easier here, ex. you don't ever feel rushed at checkout because the cashiers themselves are so slow and unrushed. they aren't chatty, just slow. if anyone's unfriendly it's not actually because you're a foreigner, they were already unfriendly from the beginning (i know because i watch how they handle the other customers before us too).

well that's all for now!
12 June 2017 @ 10:44 am
i read through that one guy's entire exchange blog and finally found some good info.

1. he literally arrived at the school september 29th and school started october 1st, but he was travelling around japan before that so i don't know if that's how things are SUPPOSED to go. the school met him at the airport, drove him to his student apartment (which had its own kitchen/bathroom, and sadly a western-style bed), took him to the government office to get his move-in registered, took him to the bank to get a bank account, and gave him a japanese student "partner" who could take him around town to anyplace he wanted to go.

apparently during all the intro stuff you need to bring snacks/drinks/entertainment with you because the bank took 2-3 hours due to them doing 20 exchange students all in one go.

2. the placement test for the classes is both spoken and written, so you're supposed to know how to write some kanji after all. however this guy only knew like 300 kanji even in reading (i know probably 1,500) and had seemingly only taken 2 semesters of japanese (i've taken 3 but will have the knowledge of 4-5) before coming there and he was STILL put into the "advanced" japanese courses. after reading that, my goal is now to get so good that they can give me some "normal" japanese classes even in my first semester instead of making me take entirely language classes.

3. you can bring computers to class to take notes on; the current exchange student i was talking to clearly didn't understand why i'd want to take notes on a computer "because the handouts are handwritten" but, uh, hello? i don't mean for the classwork! doesn't she ever take normal notes?!

in unrelated news i bought a kombucha "mother fungus" from ebay, it only cost 5 euros and i think in stores kombucha is 1-2 euros per bottle so it'll very quickly pay for itself. i originally planned to get it after i arrived in japan but then i read you can dry out the fungus and rehydrate it later so it should be safe to do that. and now i've read all about the billions of recipes and things you can do with it - make "sushi" with it, dry it and make jerky (for you or your pets), use the yeast for making sourdough that actually rises, SPRAY IT ON YOUR DOGS TO GET RID OF FLEAS AND BODY ODOR....
04 May 2017 @ 04:25 pm

i'm keeping a list of stuff i want to do (in no particular order) while in japan, feel free to suggest stuff:

1. nara deer park (youtube it!)
2. fox village (same as deer park but for foxes)
3. buy secondhand kimono; go to kimono meetups
4. buy secondhand 3DS XL
5. comiket or other convention thing
6. visit that esperanto temple thingy
7. dog café; esperanto café; esperanto meetups
8. learn to play shamisen

"places that will maybe hire me" ideas:
1. english café (maybe only exist in tokyo?)
2. some old lady's farm (maybe impossible with my eyes)