Wednesday - 15 Jan 2003
My outlook darkens as I realize the 4-year-old. is capable of complex, rational conversation, and I have yet to learn the Japanese word for "duck". Today I went shopping and bought some cute stationary for letters and a business card holder (during the last 10 minutes of my 14-hour flight I realized that the person sitting in front of me taught at Nanzan University...my future school. she gave me her business card in case I need help, so I figured I should have somewhere to put it).
Today.s Big Scare:
After my shower, I drew back the cover to the bathtub and was about to step inside ***in Japan you shower and then bathe*** when I realized that the water was bright purple. Now, I.m not talking about a little purple tint; I.m talking neon. Needless to say, I was not about to get in. I threw on my pajamas and went to find the mother. I just knew that I had done something to turn the precious bathwater purple...you can see how rationally I was thinking with my jet lag. In broken Japanese I managed to communicate that there was something in the bathtub that she just HAD to see. She followed me to the tub and promptly started laughing. The purple was some muscle relaxing "stuff". Riiiiiight. So, apparently in Japan, colorful baths aren.t so unusual. The next night it was light aqua.
The placement test was today. I was supposed to get there by 9:40am, but my mom and I got there at 10 on the nose. There really isn.t anyone to blame...she has two little kids to get off to school. The people in charge of my program swept me into my seat...while everyone stared. The test started as soon as I sat down in my seat. I didn.t even have time to take off my coat. I was so thrown off by being late, that I started to panic. Hyperventilation under control, I took the test. The test for level 300 was really easy, but I had missed the pre-test instructions, so I continued on and did part of the 400 test by accident. I.m a little worried, but that.s okay. 300 is the lowest level they.re offering right now, so I can.t get below that...can I?
I found out that I placed into Intensive Japanese 400. Wow. I am in so much trouble. I knew a lot of the stuff, but for half of the 400 test, I just did process of elimination. On 7 questions, I just outright guessed. So, I.m a good guesser. I attempted to immediately remove myself from teh class, but my advisor wouldn.t let me. She told me to wait and check it out. Dang it.
Day 3, cont.d...Natto
Today I tried "natto". For those of you who don.t know what natto is, allow me to elaborate. Natto is the slimiest, nastiest smelling/looking food (and I use the term "food" lightly) known to man. This is not to say that I don.t like natto. It.s just not aesthetically-pleasing. Directions for making natto out of those little package-thingies you can buy:
1. PEEL OFF THE LID. And I do mean PEEL off the lid. This stuff is sticky. You may want to wear gloves because the natto is connected to the lid by these odd, mucus-like strands.
2. PULL OUT THE JUICE PACKETS. That is to say, if you win the death struggle to remove the lid, pull out the juice packets. I use the word juice because I don.t really know what the wierd liquids are and their real names defy translation.
3. MIX NATTO THOROUGHLY. Put your chopsticks together and stick them into the tan beans in the container. Stir. The slime will fight you, but real men don.t let themselves be beaten by a little slime. Don.t know where the slime comes from, don.t wanna know. I would suggest using a pair of chopsticks that you intend to never use again.
4. POUR IN THE JUICE. There.s clear juice and red juice. JUst throw them in and stir. At this point, the natto will begin to froth. Don.t worry. It.s not rabid, it.s just scary.
5. POUR ONTO RICE AND EAT. Well, eat it if you can still stand the sight and smell. Personally, I think natto is OK as long as you don.t focus on what you.re eating, and weren.t then one who made it.
***Despite it.s disturbing appearance, natto is a must-try food. And just think, this is my host brothers favorite food so I get a front-row seat at this performance eeeeevery night.
Well, I.ve used the subway before, but today was my first time using it during rush hour. What an experience. My commute goes something like this:
1) 15-minute bike ride to the train station (JR-Japanese Railway)
2) Take the train 4 stops and transfer to the subway
3) Take the subway 4 stops and emerge from the darkness into the cold
4) Walk uphill for 15 minutes to the college. Nagoya has hills that any Pittsburgh person would appreciate. As for my Missouri friends, this may be beyong the scope of your imaginations.
All in all, it only takes about and hour. That.s not bad for a commute in Japan, and I enjoy it.
Today was so much fun. When the train pulled up it was full to the brim with people. Everyone on the platform just pushed and shoved and squeezed on. It was great. The only problem is my height. I.m so short that my head gets pushed into backs or squished into armpits. yum. however, commuting here is still fun.