a good day
weill in japan: day 27
After our professors opened the floodgates on
Friday, today brought some long-awaited
relief. Today was a much more bearable day, due largely to the fact that
our professors let us work on projects for the whole time.
Summer courses just about anywhere are known for their fast pace: instead
of teaching the material twice or three times a week over the course of
several months, the material is compressed down to daily lessons for six
weeks. One of the side-effects: homework is due the next class day, so
assignments have to be completed on just under 24 hours' notice. Today, we
were given the assignment of compiling survey data from all groups into one
data set, making graphs, and preparing to present them tomorrow in class.
First problem: One of our group members was absent today, due to a planned
trip on business. I gave him our data, but we'll need to brief him tomorrow
morning on the particulars.
Second problem: Just as before, all groups will be presenting the
same material. After the second group goes, it's bedtime for everyone
but the third group. Rigid content guidelines mean that creativity is a
Third problem: Many of the students are not familiar with Excel, and yet
we were all expected to compile data and make graphs using the native
Japanese version of Excel for Mac 2001. Learning a program for the first time
is tough enough: I've been using Excel for many years and I have problems
trying to remember display elements based on position rather than the tiny
characters on the display. Japanese was not meant to be viewed at less than
100 dots per inch.
Fourth problem: We were given a grand total of an hour in the computer lab
to complete this task, and I spent most of my time walking around helping my
group members out. I don't fault my classmates for this, since the course
staff had the poor foresight to expect total proficiency with a program that
many students hadn't used in any language. I ended up working after lunch
to finish off the work and distribute the compiled workbook to my group by
Four problems, and still a good day. My standards have dropped to new
elsewhere around campus
This week marks the second and last week of issei kyuuka
(simultaneous vacation) when ICU basically closes up shop for all but the most
essential summer course resources. The dining hall and post office are still
open, but everything else has sharply reduced hours. All the more reason to
spend less time on campus.
I'm on the list to visit Asakusa this Saturday, leaving bright and early at
8:40 AM from the train station nearest ICU. It will be my second visit to
that historic district, having first gone there on
Saturday to watch the famous Sumida River
Festival and its dazzling fireworks display. The trip on Saturday will feature
many more activities, including a visit to a shrine.
My host family loves to collect stickers for summer promotions. After
collecting my 20th Coke Point and qualifying to win a digital camera/MP3
player, I'm already 7.6 points towards my next entry in that contest. My older
brother Kei sent in his six Pepsi stickers and ¥1500 ($12.60) to get some
more Star Wars commemorative bottlecaps. I'm sending in a sticker from a
half-liter bottle of C.C. Lemon soda to try and win a Simpsons folding chair.
I wish they sold those chairs alongside the many other Simpsons character
goods in Japan.
The 5000-yen note is hard to come by from what I've seen. With only 1000
and 10,000 yen notes in my pocket, I had to buy a new 5000-yen bus card today.
After buying a bottled drink at a kiosk and paying with a 10,000-yen note,
I was given my change in coins and nine 1000s. The cashier didn't have any
5000s handy, so I had no choice but to buy a 1000-yen card on the bus. I later
changed for a 5000 with a friend, so I'll have an extra card to give away or
sell on the cheap.
My Japanese soccer jersey, which I bought
yesterday on the cheap in Shibuya, drew many
comments from students and teachers. I need to research this Nakata guy, since
people expect me to know at least something about the man whose jersey I
I'm beginning to get annoyed at the people who, when hearing that I'm from
New York, immediately start asking questions about September 11. I know that
they just want to get a perspective from someone who's from the area, but
I still don't feel comfortable discussing that day's events even now, 10
The dollar surged ¥1.70 today to be worth just over ¥119, its
highest level in a couple of weeks. Hopefully the rise will continue so
I can finish up my gift shopping with a more favorable exchange rate.
More studying, more presentation prep, and more sleep will get me through
this week. I'm looking forward to traveling on Friday and Saturday, and
possibly more plans beyond that.