17 June 2017 @ 10:16 am
i asked about more stuff from my exchange sempai who's in japan right now. turns out, she's gluten intolerant so has a lot of the same problems my wife and i have with buying food. she said most soba is made from half-wheat, half-other flour, but since they're all making the noodles from scratch anyway you can just go into the shop and ask them to specially make noodles for you that are 100% non-wheat and it's no problem!!

other than that, food definitely IS cheaper than in sweden on every topic except vegetables. brown rice in japan is 99% of the time ecological and pesticide-free — white rice isn't; a kilo of that brown rice is way cheaper than the same here, or than a kilo of the flour we already use every day here. i also found multiple, entire restaurants in sendai catering to people who only want to eat wholegrain ecological stuff. sendai has 10x the amount of people uppsala (sweden's 4th biggest "city") has, and i've been in the "countryside" here for so long i forgot that if you live in an actual, real city you have a ton of diversity in what you can buy.

anyway, yesterday i pulled out 3 japanese novels, took photos of random pages and used an app to highlight the kanji meanings i don't know. this isn't the WORDS i don't know, just the chinese letters i don't know. i wrote the wrong date (it's 2017, not 16) but here's where my level is at right now:

i plan to do the same thing right before i leave to japan, then i'll be able to have real "proof" of how much my japanese improved during the exchange.
14 June 2017 @ 12:25 pm
so the tuberculosis test results for the VISA are gonna come in 1-3 weeks, right? well what else am i waiting on? disability money and the right to have a "seeing-eye person" (wayfinder), which would mean my wife would be my wayfinder - which she already is anyway - and she'd get paid a little from the government. it's been months and i haven't heard anything and this one lady keeps calling about the wayfinding going "why haven't you given me the paper from your eye doctor yet?!" and it's because, hello, the doctor hasn't given the paper to ME yet.

a while ago some lady sent me a paper "if you write up all your regular costs for eye stuff then i'll write the paper for your disability money". i wrote a list of stuff i fairly regularly buy but didn't have the costs (my wife said to send it in anyway), never heard anything back from that lady. not even a "hey, i seriously need the COSTS, not just a list of items".

well now i need this paper TWICE, once for the wayfinding stuff and once for the disability money. so i sent a message to the eye clinic yesterday saying "hey, i need a paper for the wayfinding". they replied "so-and-so sent you a paper asking you for costs a while ago, didn't you get it? we'll send it again just in case."

so what, they never got the list i sent them at all? or my paper totally didn't count and they just neglected to tell me anything and are now acting like i never sent anything? it's so frustrating. and, by the way, like i wrote in my message this one is for an entirely separate topic and doesn't need a list of costs okay?!
11 June 2017 @ 07:58 am
1. i got in contact with one of the people who's from my school and is at the same japanese school i'll be going to. they've been there for 1 semester and they'll be there for my first semester there too. what i've learned from them is basically, the classes are SUPER SUPER easy because everyone expects that you're actually mostly going to learn just from talking to japanese people outside of class. there's almost no homework (some classes have NONE apparently), you can fill in worksheets by writing entirely in hiragana (no kanji) if you want and apparently some students aren't even doing the homework and the teachers don't care. the girl said they only have 8 students in the class, and it's incredibly easy to make japanese friends there.

through her i got the exchange blog of some guy who went there the year before.... honestly i can't read this blog. at all. it's extremely pretentious and irritatingly formal, and doesn't have any real info. like, i want to know how the classes are, how the dorm room is, how his actual interactions with japanese people are, how much japanese he's learning and whatnot but he's bascially talking about food and alcohol and then vaguely alluding to anything personal instead of just saying what happened. "i have class, class is normal" yeah thanks. but here it is, in case anyone wants to read it:

2. i might have solved the problem where i won't be able to eat any sugar / processed stuff in japan. after i started drinking a lot of mineral water(? naturally-carbonated spring water) instead of green tea, i noticed that i haven't gotten sick from eating sweet/processed foods. i mean, i still haven't eaten normal table sugar but i've tried coconut sugar and some weird sugar replacement (militol i think it was called), and also some "cream cheese" (actually oats and oat milk) that had rapeseed oil and some other oils i never eat anymore in it, and i didn't get sick afterwards. i also had some sausages (i normally get a tiny bit sick after sausages because of the preservatives in them) and didn't feel sick.

i WAS feeling sick for a few moments, especially after the militol thingy i had a sudden slight headache (like barely perceptible headache) and stuff. but it went away really fast. and likewise i could feel a sickly sugar-rush coming from the coconut sugar but i just made sure to drink the bubble-water as soon as i could, and it went away without any real problems. i was certain i'd not be able to sleep or that i'd get nightmares or something because i ate all tha stuff in like one day BUT I SLEPT FINE! literally the only difference has been the mineral water. my first thought was that the water's acidity must be instantly balancing out the sugar in the food or helping the processed stuff (like the rapeseed oil) break down before it even hits my stomach, or something like that. i tried researching it and COULDN'T FIND ANYTHING! or maybe this is my body's natural ability and i just had some certain mineral deficiency before?

now, these foods were the safest ones i could find (ex. sausages with 5 ingredients and natural intestine-casings, not 20 with synthetic casings), so it's not like i was eating american ice cream or something. but i know that japan uses way less sugar than sweden in the first place, so i'm thinking that as long as i only try "japanese" sweets (which typically contain little to no sugar) and keep carbonated water on-hand, i might be fine... the main problem i've been thinking about is just that, i'll need to be able to eat enough normal food to not seem rude to or inconvenience literally everyone i meet. you can always say you don't like sweets or that you get heartburn from fried foods, or even just that you only want to eat "authentic japanese food" when there, but saying you can't even eat like, basic traditional soup, is too tough. of course i'll still do my best to avoid processed foods while there, but i want to at least be able to TRY foods.

anyway. this was the first time in a long while i'd dared to try some foods that seemed like they'd obviously make me sick. and through this i realized... these foods everyone wants to eat taste like crap. i tried what was supposed to be a sort of dessert chocolate-cake thing, and a cream cheese replacement (made from oats but it tasted exactly like cream cheese to me), and a chocolate bar (mostly made of dates). i just came away with the feeling of "well it was worth trying for the experience i guess, but not exactly tasty". the cake also made my mouth dry, which was super irritating and is actually one of the signs to telling how what you're eating is processed. so i just felt like... wow, these things definitely aren't worth buying again. the memories i have of "tasty food" are all wrong; it may LOOK or SMELL tasty but it isn't once you actually eat it. so it makes me think, even if i did for some reason get back to the point where i could eat absolutely normal processed food again, i'd probably find it disgusting.
09 June 2017 @ 05:38 am
yesterday i got invited, by the sendai esperanto club (japanese people i HAVEN'T EVEN MET YET) to come to their seasonal regional get-together in october. now, the guy inviting me is a japanese-language professor at the school right next to mine (the two schools even have an agreement where we can use their student apartments) and he just so happens to know an old math professor from MY esperanto club here in uppsala! apparently they met in poland at an esperanto convention back in the 80's and still keep in touch!

so he said, they're going to stay at a traditional japanese inn (hotspring and traditional meals included) for a weekend. the club can even drive us to the town so we don't have to take/figure out public transportation. he said himself that it'd be a great opportunity to make japanese contacts, who just so happen to live all around the prefecture (so we could theoretically have more places to easily visit, find jobs more easily etc). it'd also be my first ever trip with esperanto people, my first time speaking esperanto all day.

AND it'd only cost around 16,000 yen ($150 USD?) per person for everything, food, transportation etc included; like $140 of that is the price of the room, apparently japan charges per person and not per room for hotels. now, i hope my wife would want to come with because "cool japan!!" but she hates hot baths, hates socializing in groups of people and doesn't know esperanto so well (also doesn't have much interest in knowing it) so she might not be interested at all, in that case it'd be a huge waste of money for her to go. but when i'm alone she gets too worried about me because i see so badly. so i don't know, even though i'd be with nice old japanese people she might be too worried for me to go alone and would then come with.

anyway. here's the hotel. it even has cats!

the food at the hotel

an english page i found later, which seems to have WRONG info...?!

another english page i found later

yesterday i tried reading all the info on their website. basically it's a pretty old inn so you can't go there if you're in a wheelchair (there's nothing like handrails), most of the rooms don't have their own toilets/bathrooms, they don't really have special services (ex. no room-service, no in-room internet it seems, no boxed-lunch service, you can't smoke in any of the rooms) but you can notify them if you have allergies and they'll change your food, and from what i understood you can use the baths (which are indoors) at ANY time aside from cleaning time which is at like 22-23. they give you rental yukata, and toothbrushes and razors and stuff. oh and the toilets that they do have are western-style.

also, there's really no english anywhere and they very clearly don't often deal with foreign tourists. no english on their site, when searching the place name in japanese i don't find any foreigners who went there, etc - except for that one link i have above, where the person says the owner has extremely bad english. their website is almost entirely in really formal japanese and they're using a lot of words i don't know (for example i don't know ANY food-related words!) but i was able to use a pop-up dictionary.

the food is ALL traditional food aside from some vending machines; only a few things looked like they'd have sugar in them (and only some pastries looked like they'd have white flour) so hopefully i'd be able to request no sugar or otherwise be able to just choose some food that's naturally without sugar. the problem is, i can already envision that the group would want to do a "group party meal" like shabu-shabu which is "dip meat and vegetables in soup broth", and the broth would then have sugar in it. so i'd have to ask if the whole group was okay with not having sugar, y'know...? my wife and i have already talked it over, and if we need to we can TRY to get used to having a tiny bit of sugar / white flour just so that we can actually survive eating out and stuff, but it'd probably mean that we'd both be sick for weeks or months before we got used to it and that's not cool...

anyway, the guy already knows we can't make a decision right now so i said i'll talk about it with my wife once we know the date that we're actually coming to japan, to see if she thinks we have enough time to get used to japan before going on the trip. i think that this is one of those "opportunities knocking on our door" kinds of things that i NEED to take no matter how much it costs (though, 16,000 yen per person isn't actually a high cost in my opinion, it's just that we're poor).
07 June 2017 @ 07:21 am

went to the “new citizenship ceremony” here in uppsala yesterday with my wife and an exchange student/singing-club friend… the ceremony was boring as hell. first off, the invitations were in swedish, english and arabic but once there they actually only spoke swedish so i felt bad for all those who couldn’t speak swedish that well because it was misleading. it took place in uppsala castle which was kinda cool because i’d never been inside there before, but in the end it was just a concrete building with some fancy portraits.

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06 June 2017 @ 05:17 am
the japanese school got back to me, they'll wait for my health certificate for as long as it takes (basically). i made sure to subtly-ish tell them it's all their fault that i'm late (because they didn't give me enough time to get the paper!! swedish clinics are slow!).  i don't want to be mean but i also don't want them to think it's MY fault, or think that they can do this to other exchange students in the future.

my classes are all finished, i passed everything no problem. however, as usual, no one i ended up making friends with during the class passed - if they'll pass the retake exam remains to be seen (but i haven't heard about them studying for it even though i offered to study with one of them so... they seem to be focusing on doing/redoing their late homework instead of studying for the final exam).

now i'm worried about this JLPT test, there's about 3 weeks left until it happens and i'm still not prepared. what i really have to focus on now is grammar and listening - i'm not sure there's much i can do for the "long reading" section. i'm making it a goal to read 1 chapter of manga a day (i tried for a half-volume before but it ate up ALL my time) while looking up ALL the words i don't know or am uncertain about, and starting today/tomorrow i'm going to add in all the "grammar" i don't know to a memrise list and study it, since i don't think i can just pick it up from reading manga (in time). then i downloaded a "watch asian dramas!" app and i'm listening to the episodes with headphones via my smartphone while i do other stuff like cooking, hopefully it'll help my listening skills despite that there's so many words i don't know.
26 May 2017 @ 05:51 am
!!! !!!! !! THE OTHER EXCHANGE STUDENT ISN'T COMING!! that means i might have a chance of doing the exchange for a FULL YEAR instead of just a semester! the school only gave me about two weeks' advance notice (copies of the papers i need to fill out etc) and i'm still trying to get the "health certificate" - they have to test my eyesight, hearing, height, weight, and for tuberculosis. but i couldn't get an appointment anywhere before may 29th and the paper has to be done and turned in by the end of may.

i got my eyesight tested at a glasses shop (i'm ordering reading glasses! $500 USD down the drain) so they don't have to do that, if i'm very lucky they automatically test for tuberculosis when you get blood tests so they know i don't have it (i had a blood test recently). so hopefully they can actually do the hearing test there and then i can actually get the paper on time. but if they don't do the hearing test and haven't done a tuberculosis test i'm probably screwed. if i can't get this paper on time i can't do the exchange.

other than that i had more bad luck. my final oral exam is on the same exact day as this clinic appointment and we just happened to get the very last timeslot, which just happens to end half an hour before i have to be at the clinic! i don't know if i can make it in time to be on time if we really take the full half-hour to do the exam!! i talked to my groupmates to ask if we could switch times with another group, and i emailed the teacher about it but she hasn't responded yet.

in other news... well some shit happened with the japanese guild i was in - some racist chinese people and attacked us over and over simply because they hate japanese people (yes, the main instigator stated this was his reason). they attacked our poor guild leader over and over for over 40 minutes, and he's apparently quit the game due to it and a lot of other members quit too. so some of us are creating a new guild and moving to a new spot (again - we already moved once because of these chinese guys attacking us but they found us a second time). the good news is, Convenience Store Guy seems to really like talking to me!! he hasn't said so, but he's slowly talking to me more every day and then last night he popped up saying "god kväll" out of nowhere teehee!! so i taught him "god morgon" too. it's great because i'm really using a LOT of japanese, not like tons and tons all day but just the right amount (i'm so glad this isn't a PC game or anything, because i'd never be able to keep up with the conversation if so).

oh and i started making a dictionary from manga. i've had this idea for a long while and have done similar things in the past (for chinook jargon and faroese) but now i'm doing it seriously for japanese so i can sell it. i'm just reading through inuyasha and grabbing ALL the words and putting them in a dictionary, with example sentences and at times usage notes and politeness-level notes. and i'm writing "easy japanese" definitions/origin notes as well. i'm almost done with the first volume and the number of words to add has already dropped dramatically (inuyasha has NO descriptive narration so it's really ONLY dialogue)!

i started throwing clothes away and in general preparing for the exchange a little bit. i got a "new" (secondhand) pair of trousers and thin jacket that actually fit me (all my other trousers require belts, and the shape of this jacket is way better on me than my other ones). in japan i'll be able to buy SUPER cheap secondhand clothes that actually fit me, in sweden this is completely impossible. so last night i started throwing away clothes (i only have 1 drawful of clothes to begin with, besides jackets!). this time i just threw away all the clothes that don't fit or have stains on them (no matter how much i like them or how much i originally paid for them, yes) and when it comes time to do the actual exchange, i'll throw the rest away so i end up with only like 2 sets of clothes. then i'll just buy secondhand clothes as soon as i make it to japan.

other summer plans: scan and throw away almost all of my freaking books!! find souvenir presents to give out to every japanese person i meet!! test to see if i can eat unsoaked white rice without getting sick!
15 May 2017 @ 11:41 pm
so i've found a new app called "AppLike", where you install game apps and LET THEM RUN to earn points, which eventually turn into money. unlike apparently every other "install games!" app you don't get points for the actual installation itself, you have to actually "play" the game (in another window while AppLike is running - i made the mistake of playing for 30min and wondering when my points would come in the beginning, but nothing came because AppLike wasn't on). they claim the points you earn grows the longer you play but it's actually a lie - you start out getting around 100pts every 2 minutes, then it goes to 200 every 5 minutes, eventually you're at 500 every 25 minutes etc. for that same game. when you switch to a newly-installed game the whole thing restarts and you're back to getting the points fast. so you actually get less over time and it's trying to force you to constantly try new games to get the points faster.

in reality you can just download a game, leave it open and running (don't even have to finish the tutorial - or make it past the loading screen!) and it'll still earn you points. so for example, it had a game i actually wanted to play (King of Avalon, a city-building/battling game i've played before on a real computer, except the app version is actually better and easier to use) but playing games sucks up my time so when i actually need to concentrate on doing homework or something, i open up a different game i'm not going to play at all (slot machine shit) and just keep it open while i work, without touching the phone. also make sure to mute the sound and lower the quality settings on all the games so it doesn't kill your phone.

point breakdown: roughly 182,700pts is $20; 10,000 is $1. after playing all night when i couldn't sleep i had about 16,000 points, 10,000 of those were from the same one game and the rest was from level-up bonuses etc. assuming i can get 10,000 a day if i just leave my phone on a new game on idle each day, that's $20 in just 18 days!

250pts bonus + a copy of 25% of their point earnings if a friend registers from you (that's a really good deal). i don't actually know how to refer friends though. around 200 bonus points every time you "level up" in AppLike (but you have to collect these yourself at the time of levelling up or you'll miss them if you don't get them before you level up again - check your phone notifications to see when you have).

according to people online, you can put multiple phones on the same account and earn double the money. just put each phone on a different game and let them all run. some people have 20 phones that they do this stuff on and make a ton of money with it, apparently...

the game i'm playing, King of Avalon, can be switched to swedish, japanese, korean and a bunch of other languages so it's also language practice. mine's in swedish but i joined a japanese guild and i've been writing in japanese there - those guys don't know any english but some english-speakers have joined their guild anyway and i'm the only one who can translate between them at all l-lol. it was really unexpected. i can also switch my window and use a dictionary app if i can't understand what they're saying. the game has built-in translation tools for the chatbox and all the actual in-game event stuff (ex. "come do a group battle!") automatically get translated to whatever language your game is set to, and because typing on mobile is hard no one's talking that much, so it's not a huge problem.
13 May 2017 @ 09:59 pm
helped someone on twitter who was complaining that they didn't understand some stuff in german grammar, and clearly weren't so good at learning languages in general because 1. they were american, 2. all their latest tweets were about how their german homework (looked like conjugation or vocabulary tests) was impossible

so i helped them out. and without saying anything in reply, they blocked me. what the hell is wrong with people?!

i've been noticing this behaviour more and more often lately, especially on twitter. people have PUBLIC ACCOUNTS, and then as soon as you - a stranger - talks to them and sends more than a single tweet at a time, they block you without saying anything. they don't say they're angry or to stop or whatever, it's just a silent block. why the hell do you have a public twitter if you do this?!

anyway this kind of shit just makes me not want to help anyone anymore. especially because what i was helping them with took me YEARS to figure out, no one EVER taught me it, i actually FAILED SCHOOL and got DEPORTED because i never figured it out in time to pass my classes, and i just give it out for free to everyone who seems like they're having trouble, and then for all my effort and kindness i get BLOCKED!

so now i went around searching for add-ons that block all of these "your friend liked x post" etc things. apparently it's pretty impossible to block this stuff from popping up, but i installed like 10 add-ons that promised to try and block as much stuff as possible. i still want the internet-wide blocker
that blocks content according to which country it comes from (so ex. no youtube comments from people in america will appear) but that still doesn't exist, sadly.
17 March 2017 @ 12:51 pm
yesterday i got the news that i've been accepted as an exchange student to "miyagi university of education" (宮城教育大学, shortened, i think, to 宮教?) in sendai, for a year, starting in autumn. well, not 100% accepted, the japanese school can still refuse me but it's veeery unlikely. the first debriefing is next friday.

so now i have to prepare my ass off — cleaning and tossing everything, getting Official Papers (medical prescriptions that'll need to be transferred to japan somehow), going to the dentist, getting new glasses (normal + reading... gonna cost like $1,000 USD, owch), i'll probably want to have 1 decent set of clothes and buy the rest there, etc, and then i'll just have to STUDY JAPANESE. my wife's sisters are FINALLY, after 4 months of being here, going to their own place now so studying should be a lot easier.

now i spent $20 USD on ebay buying some useful-seeming things that may improve my life. i figure i'd better buy and test them out now rather than constantly order stuff when i'm in japan. i got:

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