Thursday, 17 January 2013

Day in the life


January 15th, 2013

08:26

The screech of my phone's alarm jerks me awake. I stayed up past 5 am rushing through the last of the leftover homework for today. Easily avoidable and my own stupid fault, but I did get everything finished. No time to shower, but at least I'm not in danger of missing my exam. Thank fuck for that.

Cologne has taken to kicking my bed as hard as he can when he knows I have to be up. Actually, it is quite effective and helpful. Today it's my turn. It's nice how roommates help each other out.

The sky is overcast, the air uncharacteristically crisp. It puts me in a good mood. I'm amidst a gradual migration towards the school, like a Japanese Exodus, except only ten minutes long, and people are going to class instead of fleeing Ramses II. I see that I have enough time to go the long way, which means I get to take the escalator, which means I get to appreciate the hot girls riding it.

08:54

Of the other six students in my class, only Hecate has beat me to class. We barely acknowledge each other as I enter and I go stare out the window. All told, Hecate is one of my closer foreign friends.

Today is Grammar. Although I already know the majority of the patterns we're being taught, I actually find this class the most helpful, as it focusses on usage. Conversation is fun, but a joke, and Listening Comprehension is just meh for everybody. My kanji deficiencies make Reading Comprehension a battle at best, but at least I'm improving.

09:00

For our group, both Grammar and Conversation are taught by the head Japanese teacher, a woman in her early 30's. As always, she arrives almost exactly as the chime sounds. Unfortunately her contract was not renewed, which is nonsensical and stupid, as all students from every level agree that she's the best by far. Arzenchia arrives several minutes late, prompting a tongue-lashing before the exams are distributed.

I haven't studied at all, but I'm not nervous. As I work through the exam, I'm finding it's so easy that I actually go back and read the instructions just to make sure I haven't misunderstood something. I finish the hour-long exam in just over half an hour, so presumably I did either very well or very poorly.

09:41

Huh. Ordinarily I'd be spending all day on campus, but today I guess I've got some free time. I rush home to shower. The weather is all like, “Maybe I'm gonna snow, maybe I'm gonna rain. Haven't decided. We'll see how I feel.” A city truck is parked in the road, blocking an entire lane of traffic. Cones are laid out in case the workers milling around aren't enough of a clue, and one guy's job is to direct cars around the truck, in case they aren't sure whether they're supposed to just drive into the back of it or what.

10:31

I run into a guy from English Club. Actually, he kind of annoys the shit out of me. We make plans to hang out.

10:39

I've arrived at 日本思想史 or “History of Japanese Thought,” my legit class for the day, because Philosophy major. I never realised just how much of Japanese intellectualism was influenced by Buddhism, but of course it makes total sense that religion would inform philosophy. Right, Descartes?

Philosophy and Hikikmori Girl are always ten to twenty minutes late. The teacher, at least five. A sternly comedic academic, his Japanese is easy to follow, but his lectures range from concrete and example-filled to incomprehensibly abstract. He isn't afraid to exude a little teacherly intimidation when he starts to get pissed off, but he'll also sometimes, for example, scold an inattentive student and then start laughing. Once, he stopped in the middle of the lecture to gravely announce that we would now hold a small, impromptu rock-paper-scissors tournament to determine who would read the next section of the text. He's equal parts serious and silly as the situation demands.

He studied in Germany in his own college days, an experience from which he often draws examples. As a helpful side-effect, it means that he is well aware of our unique needs, which is helpful. He will also sometimes reference us three when making a comparison to support the point he's making, though he has the unnerving habit of doing so without looking at us.

Now he's going on and on about Dougen. I struggle with the handouts for this class, on account of I can't fucking read them. I don't even have the energy to try to follow along with the readings today, so I just listen.

12:19

Another long break now, so I make spaghetti, chat with Anarchy in the UK, and then contort myself into the confines of the common room couch and catch up on some sleep. If I go to my bed I'll sleep too deeply, and either miss my next class or interrupt my REMs, which will actually make me more tired.

15:03

Eyes open. Well, my class started three minutes ago, but fuck it. I take my sweet time getting ready and making my way over, taking the escalator once again.

15:21

Science & Technology, baby. The one 18 roped me into. Passing this class requires little more than a pulse. The teacher is a middle-aged Scottish guy with a ponytail who dresses like a hippy. Today I just have to describe a TED talk, which I watched shortly before writing a 1000-word essay in literally five minutes and then sleeping.

15:45

Released into the wild. Early, again. Hamburg and I stop at the on-campus Family Mart, where we run into a friend of his. She's damn cute but I quickly deduce that she's taken. Unprompted, she starts telling me that I should get a girlfriend, and trying to give me advice on how to do it. Uh, thanks.

At the dorm, they meet up with some guy from France or Borneo or something, who lived here a semester ago and was very popular with Korean girls. Myself, I've got another class.

16:43

Of the 11 (!) classes I took this semester, Japanese Literature may be my favourite. Today we are not only handing in an essay and a journal of notes we took on each reading, but also doing a presentation on a Japanese literary work of our choice. I deliver a flawless five-minute dissertation on Sei Shounagon, every word of it straight off the top of my head. It feels fucking badass. Not that I sucked at it before, but VP'ing Japanese Club back in the day taught me how to talk on my feet, that's for sure. Finally we have a brief exam. So you can see now why I only slept two hours.

18:09

I wait for the bus with one of my friends from Literature and History. Consider asking if she wants to get some food, but I'm too tired.

18:55

Home. Finally. Hamburg and his buddies are still lingering around the dormitory lobby bullshitting about the old days. I head upstairs to spend my evening dicking around on the Internet, as I spend every evening.

20:22

...which brings us to the present moment. Time for some sleep, 'cause the exams don't stop.

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