First post and explanation
Yesterday I taught my host mom Ring Around The Rosie and the word 'sketchy'
Friday my group in the Japanese class had to finish our survey and deploy it at the local education university for practice. I'm hardly enthusiastic about the HIF survey project, but this is the part that I was really, utterly dreading. I'm more or less totally functional in social situations these days, something I couldn't claim before, but if there's anything that still makes me extremely uncomfortable, it's going up to random strangers and asking them, out of the blue, to do something silly for me. Which this survey is.
They made things slightly easier in that they didn't just send us out into the university to go ask students changing between classes or something absurd like that. Instead, they sent us, in one big pack, into a lecture that was enjoying its break. Nonetheless, I felt sick to my stomach the whole time I had to give the survey, going up to people and bugging them and so on and so forth. Even if they were told ahead of time we were doing this, I just can't stand being troublesome like that, especially when I'm not even doing so voluntarily.
Fortunately enough, the people who took my survey didn't ask me any questions or engage me in any sort of conversation, when the shit really would've hit the fan since I know very little about my survey topic: Japanese-Russian relations. This project is all an individual grad student in my group's doing. If he could, he'd be giving the survey and its subsequent presentation it alone, but he's got to incorporate us two poor undergrads into his research.
Alright, enough of the crappy stuff. Let's talk about my AWESOME day after the survey.
I got the hell out of the packed cafeteria we'd been led to for god knows what reason with some friends I've made from the program, most of whom go to Yale. Two of the guys are an adorable couple. Urayamashii na. Anyway, we walked around the Goryokaku Park area, which is basically Chicago's Magnificent Mile by day and Belmont minus the gay ghetto by night. Lots of flashing signs written vertically, lots of chipper Japanese women chanting sales slogans, and crowds of people through which bicycles weave in and out.
Michael and Andrew wanted to get cellphones, which all the HIF students are desperately hankering for, technology dependent as we are, so the rest of us split off to Goryokaku Park itself, which was a five-star fort surrounded by a moat that's been turned into greenspace. Despite the relative newness of this fort design to Japan, the park had a feeling of antiquity and serenity. We got approached by a nice looking old man who asked us standard Japanese questions: Where are you from? Are you studying? Are you staying with host families? Ah, Americans, you like baseball, don't you? (I generally just say yes, to make it easier, though actually I'd prefer stabbing my eyes with the blunt ends of a pair of chopsticks to watching a whole game of baseball). As an aside, on an individual basis I swear the next question I'm always getting from every single Japanese stranger I'm approached by is, "Do you have a girlfriend?/Have you gotten a girlfriend here?" OMGWTFBBQ.
Anyway, the nice old man suddenly got super creepy and awkward when he told the two girls in our group they were beautiful and that he wanted a picture with himself and just the two of them. We obliged, but he couldn't understand English so the entire time we were taking the picture for him we made comments like, "I'm putting this up on Facebook and calling it 'really fucking awkward.'" and "Hai hai, Amanda and Alena and the creepy pervy old guy, say cheese!" He said something more about the girls that we didn't understand, but by the tone sounded complimentary, thanked us and we ran awaaaay, because another old guy was meandering in our direction with similar intent, it seemed.
We walked Michael and Andrew back to the cellphone shop, since they'd been made to wait a while so the shop could check the legitimacy of their passports, and while there played around with Japanese superior cellphone technology. Seriously, their cellphones make ours look like clunky Eighties monstrosities. Your fancy high tech American cellphone would make the average Japanese person snigger.
I returned home for dinner and some quality time with my laid back, loveable host family. I really did luck out. For example, everyone else's families have given them curfews and strict rules. I told my family I'd be coming back by midnight Friday night and their reply was, "Huh? You're not going to stay out later? Seriously, you can come back whenever." Other people are still using desu/masu polite verb forms with their families, mine switched to plain form before I could even get through introductions, they're teaching me crazy impolite dialect, and they're correcting my Japanese when it's not casual enough. Other people's families are telling them they don't study enough, mine tells me I shouldn't study so much (okay, so my parents told me that too. And my friends. And my roommate. And my house masters when I lived in the dorm at the university. So it's kind of a running gag, but anyway).
After dinner, the lot of us HIF students met back in Goryokaku for another round of drunken karaoke. As my host father was driving me there, he started telling me that I should be careful and that the area around Goryokaku is kinda sketchy at night ("Sometimes people sell drugs there!!!" OH SHIT NOES.) but he stopped himself mid-warning, laughed, and said, "Uh, right, totally just forgot you've lived in Chicago. Never mind, you know what to do." It was heartwarming, in a really fucked up sort of way.
Karaoke was karaoke. I'm a fairly good singer and I get into it when I'm drunk, the problem is that I can't pick songs. I don't like top twenty pop music or classics, so I'm no good at choosing things everyone else'll be able to sing. "Buddy Holly" by Weezer went down well enough, but the Foo Fighters or Nine Inch Nails don't settle well with a varied crowd (though I bet if my Madison friends were here, we'd do a ringing rendition of some of the Linkin Park songs they had on dial... hehe). Anyway, number one success of the night was Avril Lavigne's "Complicated." The fact that I sang my heart out to Avril Lavigne stays between you, me, and the interwebs.
After karaoke, I had a very drunken, very fluent and boisterous conversation with the taxi driver the whole way back. I'd tell you more, but I mostly just remember that for some reason I kept dropping out of desu/masu until I finally just said 'fuck it' and stuck to plain form, which he was using the whole time anyway. He also asked me (government mandated) "you like baseball, right?" and "do you have a girlfriend?" Sheesh.
When I got home, I was apparently extremely entertaining to my host mother. I also apparently devoured an apple with rather terrifying enthusiasm. What can I say... I get the munchies when I'm drunk.
I think I'm coming down with strep. Nodo ga itai zo. Otherwise everything's chill.
Peace and love yo.