I'm finally feeling like I'm on break.
I woke up 2 or 3 times without having to get out of bed, which is fantastic.
I had thought that I was supposed to come in for a research part-time job but apparently today is a national holiday of some form or another- there are many- so I didn't have to do anything at all. I actually had to force myself out of the work rhythm I've been cultivating the past few months just to relax a bit.
Tonight I'm set to meet my host family at their home. We had originally set this date for going to Nara, but I had thought I was going to have the aforementioned part-time job from 10:00 to 2:00. Instead, I'm going to their home. This isn't a bad thing because I love going to Japanese homes.
There is something very distinctly Western about modern Japanese homes but because the way the house is even built is different from a Western style there isn't much actual resemblance other than perhaps building materials. They're always smaller, they always have lots of little curious things that we wouldn't have in a Western home (such as heated floors or Japanese baths, which I'll definitely post about later tonight, as well as kotatsu, the heated tables which are my favorite thing in the world) that most Japanese households and apartments have. These all evolved out of a need for things that Japanese homebuilders never had and could now have but see no need to add to their process of homebuilding. And makes for a very foreign feel to us Westerners when we visit.
My host family has a distinct Tokyo accent but of course the dialect they use is the standard Japanese dialect we are all taught in school. Sometimes the Tokyo accent gets in the way of my understanding them clearly, but all in all they understand that as a foreigner I can't always clearly understand them anyway. At this point, however, my Japanese has reached a point where just about anything can be explained to me, which is a very important point to have reached. I can't always recognize words because I just have not been studying the language long enough in order to do so, but my hearing level is really taking off. My speaking level will probably increase more over break as I hang out with Japanese people outside of a classroom/ school setting as well as potentially getting a part time job teaching English.
I already have two or three language exchange partners, which are great because they are eager to practice Japanese since I'm giving out free English lessons. I do need to start coming to them with a plan of attack though, as I tend to be learning more slang than the Japanese I'll need next semester. Not that slang is a bad thing, either. Sometimes I'll say things that some Japanese don't even know because its very recent, trendy stuff that they are too busy studying whatever to have heard through media.
At any rate- a couple of updates about various things. I am going to have an apartment in the fall when I return home, I am going to take a trip to Fukuoka (next Wednesday! wow, that's soon...), I'm going to go back home also for a week from March 9th to March 20th- should be interesting to see what sort of reverse culture shock effects I experience.
Other than that, I plan on taking day trips around Kansai to check out the stuff I haven't seen yet. I really want to go to the Iga ninja castle, but it's nearly four hours away by train. Seems kitschy anyway:
Right, I'm off to see my Japanese family. Jaa ne!