Apr. 4th, 2005 07:34 pm
shirenomad: (defeated)
The second stage of the screening process for the 2005 Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program is now complete. This year, the Japanese Embassies and Consulates in each of the participating countries received thousands of applicants. Hence, competition was extremely rigorous.

Consequently, it is with deep regret that I inform you that we were unable to offer you a position on this year's JET Program.

We appreciate the interest that you have shown in the JET Program and sincerely hope that you will continue to pursue your desire to travel to Japan. We wish you the best in your future endeavors.


Hiroko Hakoda
Advisor for Educational Affairs
shirenomad: (mixed)
In case I neglected to mention it earlier, I'm toying around with joining the JET program. (It's in Japan, it pays money. What other reasons do I need?) Went through the interview stage today... not sure how well I did, though. I generally don't interview well. And I can't just go in and say I want to be an JET ALT because Japan and money. Fortunately, I'd already thought that through to some degree when I cranked out my application essay a couple months ago, so I had a few more answers prepped on that subject. And I was able to come up with something off the cuff in response to "you enjoyed your time in Japan before, but what if it proves harder or more stressful this time?" On the other hand, I had a bit of trouble with "how are you qualified for teaching?" (why, WHY didn't I mention that I've done both amateur and professional proofreading?) and I don't think I impressed them with my uncertainty over which grade I wanted to teach ("wherever the class is taught in about 50% English, 50% Japanese" was my best stab).

But actually, the most stressful part was getting lost on the way there. One hour from San Jose to SF, 45 minutes driving the streets of the city with a bunch of maps and a confused expression. Whoever designed the city layout ("can't turn left here... or here... or here... you know what? screw the signs!" *completely illegal U-turn*) needs to be shot.
shirenomad: (nostalgic)
A few friends from Tsuru are actually visiting the States over the next couple weeks. Noriko has been in California since Tuesday or so, checking out colleges (most of the tutors in the Tsuru program eventually intend to return the favor by coming to a UC; that's why they signed up). Since she was coming down to check out UCLA, everyone in SoCal (that's me, David, Nathan, and Laura) drove over to meet her and catch up. Plus it was an excuse to get food.

Slight disaster coming in. I was expecting traffic, so I gave myself an hour and a half to get up the LA (Dave, the UCLAer, thought that sounded reasonable). Well, first, it wasn't... I wasn't to the right exit until something closer to an hour forty-five. Second, the right exit was this street (Wilshire) that runs right past some important government building just as you exit the freeway... Said exit, plus three blocks of Wilshire in both directions, were blocked off because half of LA was protesting the war outside. So I had to take another exit and wander around for a bit in an area I had NO familiarity with, and fight through other cars in similar states of confusion taking similar detours.(Because nothing makes me think how much I'd like peace for all mankind like being stuck in a traffic jam! >_<) Anyway, final arrival time: two and a half hours. And it took me another 15 minutes to calm down enough to feel conversational.

The rest had waited for thirty minutes at the parking garage and then gone on to the restaurant; they had gotten seated and ordered drinks when I called Dave's cell from the garage and asked for a location update. So I didn't miss too much, at least. Got caught up: Keiko may be coming to UCI next year (I'll be graduated by then, but I may still be in the area when she arrives), Yoshi's aiming for Berkeley. Marippe will be visiting California next week, hopefully in a quieter area. Tsuru Spring is well under way, this time with 15 tutors... and only 5 exchange students. Go fig.
shirenomad: (Default)
I arrived back safe and sound, jet-lagged but otherwise fine, Wednesday morning. If you're curious about my lack of online appearances since then, well, I've been kept occupied dealing with ten billion people here who want to see me (as well some last minute shopping for stuff I won't have to pay duty on). Managed to poke my head online a couple times over the past few days -- you may or may not have noticed -- but anyway, I'm back in business. Sort of. Much of my luggage remains partially packed, since I'm going to have to move it all south again in about two weeks, but that makes it a pain to find stuff sometimes. Also, I may still be a bit hard to find for another couple days, until the festivities are over. Anyway...

Tokyo trip went well, if you were curious. Signed up for a tour: saw the Tower, the Emperor's Palace (from the outside of the walls, anyway), Akasaka Temple, and a brief viewing of the Diet, as well as general views from the bus of other locations. Really good tour guide too; spoke good English, and had a lot of interesting info about the history and sites of the city, as well as a few jokes. ("The tour bus cannot wait here for you due to parking rules. So if you come back before the pick-up time, you will not see the bus. If you come back AFTER the pick-up time, you will not see the bus.") Also, on my own power, visited TouCho (the Tokyo Metropolitan Area government offices: great view from the top, all the way to a faint but visible Mt. Fuji) and Akihabara (premiere tech equipment shopping district, where I picked up a discounted TM Revolution CD and an expensive but high-quality Japanese electronic dictionary, complete with handwriting kanji input).

The Kitais surprised me by giving me a lift to the airport and saving me about 4000 yen train fare (though I think they spent MORE than that on tolls; just about all the highways in Japan are turnpikes). Mr. Kitai even took the afternoon off to see me off. They also tried to pump me full of presents for myself and my family, but my baggage was already overloaded, so they wound up having to put most of it in a box and ship it from the post office that was conveniently right in the airport. Hasn't gotten here yet. *shrug* Anyway, it was really nice of them, although it also stretched out the goodbyes...

*sigh* I'm really going to miss everyone... When I head back and forth between Irvine and Campbell, that's not a big deal, because I know I'll see the people I'm leaving again in six months tops. But I have no idea when I'll be in Japan next, if ever... ...honestly, I'm getting a little teary-eyed right now just thinking about it.
shirenomad: (thoughtful)
All last night was spent packing. I'm not leaving for a couple more days, but since I couldn't get a ride to the airport and there's no way I'm getting all my stuff there without help, I've called in a transport service that can get luggage to the airport for me... provided they get it 36+ hours before I need it there. So I stuffed everything I won't need over the next couple days into my two big suitcases, which they'll be coming by to pick up this afternoon, and I'll attempt to cram the remainder into my backpack and laptop holder come Wednesday.

I still need to figure out what to do with the various items in the pantry: I offered any and all tutors the right to come and raid it over the weekend, but only Marippe took me up on that. She managed to clean out a good portion, but I've still got sugar, salt, pepper, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, mustard, and two kinds of cooking oil, and I'd rather not let any of it go to waste.

I plan to hit Tokyo tomorrow. The Kitais gave me some tips on what the must-see locations are and how to get to them; now it's just a question of understanding the Japanese guidebook they gave me. It's about two hours by train to Tokyo, so I'll want to leave early if I want to get as much as possible. I toyed with the idea of reserving a hotel room in Tokyo for Tuesday night -- then I could have all Tuesday morning to cruise the city as well and not spend an extra round trip going to-from Tsuru on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. But I realized I'd have to bring along my luggage for the first trip that way, which would mean that I couldn't arrive in Tokyo until a time that the hotel would let me stash it in my room (probably about 3pm or so) so that blows the entire morning, plus there's the hassle of finding a hotel, and the cost for a room would most definitely be more than the 4000 yen for the round trip... I decided not to mess with it.

This will be my last update before I return to the States, for reasons I mentioned yesterday. So, this is Free Radio Japan, signing off for the last time...
shirenomad: (depressed)
"Where is the 'sigh' in 'sayonara'?" (Oh, wait, there it is... -_-)

Rambling about yesterday before I get to the meat of the post. )

As I type this, David is off to the train station on his way to Narita Airport. We just saw him off. An hour after watching Laura leave with her parents: they'll be touring Japan for a week or so before flying back to America, and even if they decide to drop back by Tsuru before leaving the country, the only person left by then will be Mike, so it was our big farewell for her too. I mentioned way back when I first got here that I'd probably get pretty close to these people... but it didn't really hit me until, well, literally just now, how close the ryuugakusei-gumi are to family for me... *gets quiet for a moment before composing himself enough to continue*

My own farewell from Tsuru will be Wednesday around 10:30: I've checked the train schedules and I can get to Narita Airport a full two hours before my flight leaves if I start then, complete with time for lunch at Shinjuku station. I figure that will give me more than enough time to get through customs and any hazards of finding my way around a Japanese airport.


Dec. 12th, 2002 08:48 am
shirenomad: (thoughtful)
Torii-sensei's final makes me want to take back the nice things we said about him during the review. His class was centered around translating and analyzing a short story called "Yuki Onna" ("Snow Woman"), which was interesting, if a bit difficult due to that fancy language. In prep for the final he told us to focus our studies on the first portion, which was accurate, and that it would be multiple choice... which was a bald-faced uso. When we show up, Ura-sensei is there to pass out a single sheet, which had what we recognized as a two-paragraph passage from the front of the story, translated into English. The assignment: translate it back. (Hear that? That's the sound of eight jaws hitting the floor.) Us level A students were particularly in the lurch, but even Tae was stalling here and there; we had only been able to translate it the other way through a combined effort with the help of three or four tutors and multiple dictionaries of all kinds. Reversing the process as a solo effort was just not possible. I only managed to squeak out a pathetically simplified version of the first paragraph by the time the assigned 20 minutes were over, mostly in hiragana. Torii-sensei is probably going to give an A for effort no matter what we write (please oh please oh please), but I still think that counts as cruel and unusual punishment.

Fortunately, that was the last final. Absolutely nothing today, nothing tomorrow until 5pm... which is when we present our final speeches (oh joy!) Need to get mine thoroughly memorized by then. I also have to come up with three one-page summaries, in Japanese, of three three-page papers I've already written in English, which thankfully we only need to finish "before we leave Japan." So I'll spend the weekend dealing with that and turn it all in Monday. Someone give me a "ganbare!" please.
shirenomad: (Default)
As things wrap up, I think it's about time I gave credit to the tutor crew. Some, like Taka, vanished without a trace and eventually dropped from the program; others stayed in but were rarely to be seen; but the few, the proud, the diehard could always be found to lend a helping hand. Marippe and Keiko, who were the only two I could ever seem to flag down during the intensive language portion. Noriko and Ayako, who were busy during August but who made up for it by camping out in the lounge in the fall and helping anyone who asked. And then there's Yoshi, who organized our translation sessions of "Yuki-Onna". Who, if you really need an explanation in terms you can understand, speaks better English than some American high school graduates. Who, despite constantly working on passing his qualifications for his own trip to America next fall, was available more than anyone else. Incidentally, he's managed to qualify for a year at any college in the University of California system (Keiko's going anywhere but Berkeley, no one else from the tutor team is applying yet). I wish him the best, and may he find as good help there as we found here.
shirenomad: (Default)
Due to the snowfall, Torii-sensei wasn't able to make it to campus yesterday, so we bumped his final to Wednesday and moved up the program review. That's when the students get to make comments on the courses, teachers, tutors, etc. Plenty on all subjects, most of which I won't go into here, but we came to general consensus on the language courses (needs a more unified curriculum instead of multiple textbooks with little relation), breadth courses (some senseis just didn't get that they were talking over our heads, others were a lot better at checking to see if we understood), and tutors (less individual assignment to specific ones, and make sure there's a "Yoshi"-level super-tutor in the next team ;D ). Other subjects got more varied reactions, such as host families (depended on the specific family, some of whom seemed to treat their student as an English tutor and little more) and side events (Tae was really irritated with the temple trip, due to all the dirty looks one monk kept giving him for sitting out on the services). Overall, almost all of us agreed the curriculum still needed some heavy improvement but that the program was worth it just for the experience of coming to Japan. (Mike commented that he's particularly glad he came but that that's due to "special circumstances." If you don't understand why his comment had us all cracking up, click here.)
shirenomad: (Default)
Woke up this morning to find the ground had vanished. It had been raining a lot the day before, and for a brief time the sky attempted to mix a few snowflakes amidst the water, but nothing really came of it. So it tried again that night with far greater success. Tsuru was about four or five inches deep by the time I woke up, and it's still snowing now even if the current layer is slowly beginning to melt. Nice mood booster in the midst of finals...
shirenomad: (Default)
Upcoming week is finals. After that, I'll be in Japan for a few more days to cool off from classes, get any final matters here settled, and hopefully check out Tokyo for a bit, before flying home on the 18th. All I can say is DAMN, the months flew by...
shirenomad: (Default)
Fumi-san (the program coordinator) has informed us that in its 7 semesters of existance, the Tsuru program has yet to send a group of yuugakusei back to the States without one of them hooking up with a tutor. Make that eight semesters. Actually, being Mike's neighbor, I've been aware of Marippe dropping by his apartment almost daily for well over a month, but I didn't feel like mentioning it earlier; now that they've made it public, I figure I might as well spread the love. ;D Dunno what they're going to do when Mike leaves for home at the end of the month, but it sort of puts the long-distance relationships I see online in perspective...

Oh, and Be afraid, be very afraid... )

And I had to hold off posting this for several hours because LJ was doing maintenance. As was Keenspot. Take out half my online addictions, will ya?
shirenomad: (frustrated)
- The Japanese Constitution class professor gave out an essay to read for last week.
- The essay was in Japanese.
- The essay was in college-level Japanese.
- We were only able to so much as pronounce all the kanji because a tutor went over the pronounciation with us beforehand.
- We didn't actually understand a bit of it.
- The professor then gave us three times as much reading for this week.

That's why we all decided "screw it" and I'm here online instead of at lecture.
shirenomad: (Default)
Long commentary about spending the weekend at a temple. )
shirenomad: (Default)
All the yuugakusei in the Kantou area have been invited to ICU in Tokyo for some Thanksgiving dinner this evening. A bit late, but still appreciated. And it'll give me a chance to say hi to a couple Anteaters I haven't seen in a while. I also plan to swing by Shinjuku on the way; see if I can find anything interesting to purchase. Anyway, that plus the temple trip tomorrow should keep me pretty busy, so don't expect to see much of me this weekend.

Ja ne.
shirenomad: (Default)
Hiroshima, Part 4 )
shirenomad: (Default)
Hiroshima: Part 3. )
shirenomad: (depressed)
Blech. Spent the entire morning writing and typing up a two page essay (in Japanese!) because I'd been putting it off and it was due at 1pm. Just barely made it under the wire, and I didn't have time to go online this morning as a result. My apologies if I missed anyone.

This delay will not, however, stop me from posting Hiroshima Update Part 2! )
shirenomad: (Default)
I am back; I've just been taking a breather and catching up on things before filling you all in. Time to do that. Due to the length, I think I'll chop this up into four bite-sized updates. First one...

Which is actually still kinda long... )

More tomorrow. Same LJ time, same LJ channel!
shirenomad: (Default)
Okay, a LOT of random quirks... )
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