It's been a very long January. It hasn't been long since the January trip, but looking back, so much has changed- my Japanese, my plans for Japan, and even what I'm going to be doing with myself when I get back to the States...
A good starting point would be one related to the purpose of my stay here. My Japanese has drastically improved in the past month I've been here- When I watch interviews on the news and children's shows the only thing that holds me back from completely understanding is vocabulary, really. I've completed and understand basic grammar with few exceptions. It's a pretty strange feeling, actually. Japanese just felt like an impassable wall for the first three months I was here- I could talk to people, but it was a struggle. Now I don't have to break into English in order to hold a conversation. It's also affecting my English conversational grammar little by little. All of my friends speak with a Kansai accent and I've started picking it up as the rate at which I learn the language starts to speed up. I've also been trying to take the time to review when I can, but I don't want to shun a social life either- they're both important to this sort of thing.
Next, I'm more than likely going to be moving next month to a dorm closer to school. If I walk, the commute will be about the same... but I won't be as restricted as if I live in my current dorm and take the special train I need to get into town- i.e., people can actually come up to my room without paying 600 yen or so. Don't get me wrong, I love the people in this dorm- but the place is a little inconvenient. I feel a bit cheated that I was sent here without my university doing a little more research and without really knowing what it was. I've had fun here but I feel like my experience of Japan was a little affected by the way this dorm was set up. The new dorm is a 20 minute walk up the side of a mountain, basically, from the nearest train station. It's also full of Japanese people- so I'll be forced to speak Japanese when I go home from school/ whatever part time work I can manage to find.
In order to facilitate this move, I've decided to buy a moped. I've got to go through license training and then actually test for the license, and then actually buy the thing. Fuel will probably be around 1000 yen a month (or so I've heard) which is nothing. Doing all of these things will make the summer much more convenient and much more enjoyable, and definitely help my Japanese.
I've made alot more close friends in the past month. I'm quite sure I've made some lifelong friends here and it took me quite a while to sort that out, but I guess that's part of a new situation and all. Unfortunately alot of them are leaving this semester, but moving out of the dorm I won't be around that much longer either. As one of my Japanese friends said, "Sometimes something is really fun but you can't just focus on it, you've got to leave it as is and remember it that way." That's pretty Japanese for a few reasons, but in the end I just think its very reflective of the Japanese mindset.
The last few things I want to find before too long are: a meditation or a temple I can practice at, and an internship in something dealing with media. I feel like even if I was teaching English I'd be making good contacts over here.
My first semester is almost over... but I have seven months left. It feels like its been forever since I got here, and yet like nothing has happened at all.
Over break I plan on traveling to Fukuoka in Kyushuu to visit my friend and more than likely future roommate Nate, who is studying international relations and japanese there. It should be awesome and I'm looking forward to Beppu and tons of onsen.