Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring! ...sort of.

It seems like winter has (for the most part) finally come to an end, which I'm infinitely pleased about. It's been really warm lately, by which I mean it's been about 45-50 degrees on most days. Today is no exception, but it's also windy with pouring rain so I'm thinking I'll just stay home all day. And you know what that means... pointless blog-update time!

What have I been up to in the past month and a half? Embarrassingly little, as usual. In no particular order, I...

• worked
• worked
• figured out how the hell sudoku works
• worked
• started raw-feeding the cats, because they are fatties
• worked some more
• consistently spent more money on clothing and food than my salary sustains
• etc.

There was probably more, but nothing was really noteworthy enough for me to remember. Now that the weather is finally getting nice, I'm thinking I'll try to get out more, if not only because I want to take pictures of things other than my cats.

...adorable as they may be.

A road trip would be nice, but I don't think there's really anywhere within driving distance of here that's worth going to. I'll have to research this. D:

...I think that's about all I have to write about, how pathetic is that? This wasn't even a legit update! Let's see what else I can think of in the next, like, 30 seconds.

I finally got around to playing the Nintendo DS game "999: 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors". This game was unexpectedly one of the most awesome things I've ever played, it's right up there with Phoenix Wright and Layton on my list of favorites now. I need to make a proper review at some point, though I don't know what I can say about it that other reviewers haven't already said. I've also recently started playing Okamiden, which I'll hold off on forming any opinions about until I've finished.

Kaz is playing The House of the Dead: Overkill on the Wii right now, and one of the main characters totally sounds like Fat Tony from the Simpsons. It's a little distracting.

I dyed my hair a sort of reddish-blonde that looked really ginger when I first did it about 2 weeks ago, but it's already faded out. Goddamn L'oreal Preference, it always lures me away from Feria, and it never works like it's supposed to.

Oh yeah! And I'm totally going to Mexico in exactly 6 weeks. Stoked as shiat!

And now that's really about all I can think of. Guess I'll go see if there are any new Korean dramas worth watching. But who am I kidding? Even if there aren't, I'll probably watch them anyway.

[end transmission]

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow day!

As always, I've been grossly neglecting this blog for weeks on end. My bad. I really haven't had all that much to update about, but I guess it wouldn't hurt to just write about the trivial things I do on a daily basis. As a late New Year's resolution, I'll try to work on that! 8D;

So what was the catalyst for today's de-cloaking? We had a snow day today! In case you've been living under a rock, or just living anywhere besides the midwest, there was a raging blizzard that lasted from yesterday afternoon until this morning. I suppose I can't really complain, since we've been extremely lucky thus far this winter in terms of snow and ice. It got so bad yesterday that my company sent everyone home early by around 3pm. The drive home was atrocious and took at least 9000 years, but on the plus side, I haven't had to leave since. The roads were so bad today that pretty much every business was shut down, including mine.

The only thing I needed to do today was dig my car out from its icy tomb, which proved a much more difficult task than I would have imagined. Kaz and I both managed to hear talk of this impending blizzard for the past week without ever thinking to invest in a snow shovel. So I got to enjoy the experience of standing in the parking lot and using my ice scraper like a golf club to clear a path out for my poor car. It was about as ineffective as it was ridiculous, and I'm assuming I'm going to have a bitch of a time trying to get out of the lot tomorrow morning. Can't they just cancel work for the rest of the week? =/

Kaz is actually in Georgia right now, or I'm sure he'd already have taken care of this for me. He managed to get on one of the only flights that actually left from O'Hare yesterday, what luck. It's odd that every time I actually write something here, he's away on business somewhere in the south, what's up with that? He doesn't go on all that many trips, so it's kind of weird.

Anyway, that's about all I have to report. All I've really been doing lately is playing Okamiden, watching terrible movies, and going on furniture shopping sprees with Kaz at IKEA. Our apartment is starting to look less like a college dorm and more like a legit apartment, it's fancy as shit. ♥

Oh, but yeah, terrible movies. We watched something called Chain Letter the other day, and I can't really remember the last time I so desperately wished I could get an hour and twenty minutes of my life back. And I'm not all that picky when it comes to brainless horror movies, so that's saying something. Kaz keeps suggesting we watch The Human Centipede because it sounds so awful, but I think I'll pass on that. For much the same reason I have never been curious enough to watch 2 Girls 1 Cup.

Alright, that was really all I could come up with, I need to go make some dinner for myself. The neighbors are cooking something ethnic-y and it smells hella good. I'm jealous, because all I have in the fridge are pineapple chunks. ...Sigh. D:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What to do...?

Ever just have one of those days where you really just can't get motivated to do anything? No? Okay, so it's just me, then.

Kaz left for his mini business-trip to Georgia today (why do they keep sending him to the south?), so I was up pretty early. Cats are noisy things, though, so I imagine I'd have been up early even if he weren't getting ready. There's a number of things I COULD be doing to occupy my last blessed day off before another work week begins. I could play some video games, I could bake cookies or something, or I could just do some much-needed studying (my Japanese is so rapidly deteriorating), but I can't seem to concentrate on any one thing. I also finally have a working tablet again, thanks to my sister, but I haven't drawn anything in so long. I think I've forgotten how. D:

I hate days like this! I need to get out of this funk I've been in lately.

In other news, Kaz and I drove back to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving. We didn't have a lot of time off, naturally, so we left Wednesday after work and came back on Sunday. It was a really nice vacation, but waaaay too short. We actually had a lot of people over on Thursday and Friday, which is pretty unusual for my family. The fact that it was fun just made it all the more depressing that I can't go home for Christmas. We'll most likely be going to Mexico again sometime around April, and I'm determined to get time off of work for that. Mexico is a good substitution for a week of gross Pennsylvania winter.

Speaking of gross winter weather, it snowed all day yesterday, and it's super cold out. I hate the weather here, it can't ever just not be windy. If I didn't have a job, and if Kaz disliked his just a little more, I'd seriously suggest that we move someplace else. I've yet to see the appeal of the midwest, and I don't think I ever will.

While I'm on the topic of things that baffle and/or irritate me, WHAT is the deal with this Facebook profile picture meme that's going around? It's like a pandemic, and I don't understand why. I could understand if people were just suggesting that everyone set their picture to a cartoon for the sake of reminiscing and inciting conversations about old TV shows. But if there is a single person who actually believes that this has any effect whatsoever on child abuse, I officially give up on the human race. It's one of the dumbest things I've ever seen in print, right up there with chain letters and comments to Yahoo news articles.

Okay, well this post turned out to be more negative than I intended, so I guess I'll go play Mario Kart or something else to de-stress. One bit of positive news I can leave you with is that I found some Christmas nougats at Hobby Lobby yesterday. Motherfucking Christmas nougats, have you ever had them? They're truly the nougats of the Gods, and yet they're probably the most difficult candies to obtain. Behold!

And on that note, I bid you good day.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Slight correction to my last post. Well, an update, not a correction. The person who took the 1-bedroom we originally wanted decided to go for a bigger place, so we ended up being able to get that one after all! I'm strangely disappointed that we won't have 2 bedrooms now, even though we don't need it and wouldn't have nearly enough furniture to fill the space. The 1-bedroom has a nice design, though, pictures will be forthcoming as soon as we're all moved in!

Furthermore, we went to the animal shelter last Sunday to look at cats. There's something distressing about being in a room full of mewing kittens in cages, I felt like they needed my help and like I should have freed them or something. It's a no-kill shelter, and they all seem to be treated very well, the staff was really helpful. That said, they had a rule that says any kittens under 5 months need to be adopted in pairs. A good rule, I suppose, though having 2 cats right away in this new apartment would be a bit daft. Eventually, if it seems doable, I'd like to bring Reiko here as well. She doesn't care for change too much, though.

Anyway, we ended up looking at the available kittens at a shelter in McHenry (annoyingly far from here, but okay), and I am absolutely in LOVE with this one kitten. The shelter doesn't have a physical location, most of the pets are kept with foster families, but I've been trying to contact them for the past 2 days with no luck. I'm afraid someone will adopt her before I can get to the place! They must be pretty disorganized, because I emailed them Sunday with no response, then Kaz called them today and no one answered or phoned him back. It's so frustrating!

Maybe I'll e-mail them again tonight, but I don't want to seem crazy. Ugh.

Edit: Why does this post specifically keep attracting weird spam comments? It's really annoying, I'm disabling them on this one. D:<

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Moving... again!

The last week or two have been sort of eventful, so I figure I should write a bit of an update while I have time.

I was expecting this to happen sooner or later, so it wasn't much of a surprise, but the place that Kaz and I have been living in (it's his sister's old condo that's been on the market for a while) has finally sold. At least it seems that way, so we decided to go apartment hunting and move out before Thanksgiving. We'd done a bit of research, and then we went to look at apartments yesterday morning. After touring the 5 or so places we'd narrowed it down to, we sort of agreed on one place that's not far from here in Palatine.

So we went back to said apartment complex and asked to take one more look at the place before making a decision. In the meantime, some douchebag who was also interested in that exact unit came in and signed a lease, so we missed the place by about 20 minutes! What kind of terrible luck is that? So we ended up just agreeing to suck it up and pay extra for a 2-bedroom apartment that was in the same building as the one we wanted, almost directly upstairs. So now the aforementioned douchebag will be our neighbor, it's like a bad sitcom/reality show. D: The place is pretty sweet, though, and the floorplan of the one we got is called Compton. So it reminds me of True Blood... bonus! Maybe it was meant to be, or at least that's what I'll tell myself when we can't afford to buy anything but rice and beans for food.

On the plus side, now we can have a cat, or even a dog if we felt so inclined. The place seems very pet-friendly, which is a nice contrast to where we are now. We're planning to move next weekend.

Also fortunately, I've been upgraded from temp status at work, so I'm a bona-fide employee now. It's not a huge change, but I'm super-relieved that I won't just suddenly be jobless again any time soon. At least I don't think I will. (p・Д・;)

Now that we've found a place to live, we're going to an animal shelter near here pretty soon to take a look at the cats they have. For the life of me, I can't fathom why people would ever buy a cat from a pet store when there are so so so many that need to be adopted. With dogs, I'm more comfortable getting them from a legit breeder because then you know what you're getting into in terms of genetic predispositions/behaviour and all that, but with cats there's really no reason. Unless you're really set on a specific breed and want to buy one from a breeder, there's like, no reason not to adopt. Makes me so annoyed. ヽ(o`皿′o)ノ But I digress. This animal shelter we're going to is actually pretty close to my work. I should see about volunteering there, but I know I'd want to adopt every animal in the place.

...On a related note, I think when I do eventually get a dog, I'm thinking I might get a Westie.

More on these ongoing stories as they develop!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oh sheesh y'all.

I've neglected my blog for over a month, for shame! I've been significantly more busy lately, now that I'm no longer unemployed. I guess that's a good thing, but I really find myself missing the massive amounts of free time I had when I was jobless. Grass is always greener, and all that.

I don't really want to get into any lengthy specifics about my job, it's going alright, though. I'm really enjoying the casual atmosphere, and the commute is pretty convenient. I hope they decide to make me a permanent employee soon, though, I hate being a temp. =(

Other than work, I haven't been up to all that much in the past few weeks. TF2 has re-captivated my interest for the time being, but I think I already mentioned that. Kaz and I are going to some Halloween party this weekend... I generally dislike parties, but it's probably good that we get out and be sociable every now and then. Halloween parties are always the worst though, because while I enjoy wearing costumes, I hate thinking of what to dress up as. I ended up buying a dress and shoes online from Bodyline, mostly because I've always sort of wanted an excuse to buy a ridiculous dress that I'll almost never have a reason to wear.

(The shoes are actually more white than the photo makes them look.)

Unfortunately, I didn't quite think this through, and I haven't really got an answer as to what kind of costume this is supposed to be. I guess I can just carry around a stuffed sheep and say I'm Little Bo Peep or Mary or something. I only have a stuffed alpaca, though, so this is already an inconvenience. Furthermore, the shoes are too big for me, even though I ordered a size smaller, so I need to invest in insoles or something before Saturday. I should have just bought a slutty nurse costume and been done with it. Oh well. There's always next year.

Now that I've earned my first paycheck, I allowed myself one impulse buy, and that was a new digital camera. I already have a Canon DSLR that I love dearly, but while it takes fabulous pictures, it's just too inconvenient to lug around everywhere I might want to take some pictures. Not only is it heavy, but I'm always afraid it'll get lost, stolen, broken, or all of the above. So I went and bought myself a Samsung dual-view camera, the ST100. I've yet to take any pictures with it that aren't horrible and grainy (see above), mostly because the only time I've had to play around with it has been at night when the lighting in our apartment is practically non-existent. It has pretty good specifications, though, so it should be adequate for a back-up camera.

In any case, I'm going to try and take more snapshots with this thing to practice using it, so maybe I'll post more pictures here now.

...Maybe. Until next time, cheers! ♪

short entry FTL! :V

Friday, September 24, 2010


We've been having really weird weather the past few days. First it was cold, then it went back up to the 90's, then we had a bunch of strong storms, and now it's cold again and obnoxiously windy. Why is it always so windy here?! I'm already having bouts of Raynaud's, even though it's only been in the mid 60's. I'm really dreading how this is going to play out once winter gets here. ヾ(。><)シ

Kaz is finally home from his extensive business trips now, it's nice to finally have things back to normal. We were thinking about actually going somewhere this weekend, but I have no ideas as to where. We could feasibly go to Chicago, or to Wisconsin, but what the hell is in Wisconsin? I'm asking because I genuinely don't know. There's not much of anything in the Midwest, really. Hopefully we can think of something, I'd like to be able to get out of the apartment for a little while. But check out the sweet t-shirt that Kaz got for me while he was gone!

Hah, every picture of me always looks the same, but at least I have an awesome t-shirt in this one. For those not in the know, it's the same t-shirt worn occasionally by the main character in True Blood. I like it because it makes me a total dork, but no one except people as dorky as I am would realize it. It's the perfect crime. ( ゚▽゚)/

Now that I've finished Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, I've started playing 牧場物語「双子の村」/Harvest Moon (Twin Villages). This may end up being review-worthy at some point, if I actually finish it. I have a bad history of not finishing Harvest Moon games, or at least taking forever with them. This one seems a little different, though, because time in the game goes by so much faster. The one really annoying thing is that you can only save the game before sleeping, it's SO ANNOYING. Hopefully it doesn't ruin the game for me. I think the fact that it has alpacas will make everything better, though.

I'm finally getting around to watching all the episodes I missed of the last season of House, I forgot how much I love this show. I'm going to need to have a marathon to catch up before the next new episode on Monday. Still not entirely sure why House and Wilson are living together, all I know is that I love it. 8D

Ugh, I really don't have much else to write about, I really REALLY hope I get a job soon. I went on another interview this morning, which was preceded by a phone interview and one with HR. With any luck, I'll hear something good next week. No one should ever be unemployed this long unless they want to be. D:

Okay, time for more Harvest Moon! The best part about having to go to interviews is the feeling of relief you get once they're over. ( ̄▽ ̄)ノ

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future [Review]

I beat Professor Layton and the Unwound Future last night. I think that had to be some kind of record, because I only started playing it on Sunday night. I can't deny that I have way too much time on my hands right now, though. I don't know that I have enough to say about it to warrant a straight-up review, so this is more of a collection of my disjointed observations and impressions of the game. You're welcome.

[For the record, this contains SPOILERS, so if you haven't played it yet but plan to at some point, you might want to skip this. You've been warned!]

I haven't really read any other reviews of this game yet, but the general consensus of the few I have seen has been that this one was slightly better than the first two installments. This actually surprises me a little. Don't get me wrong, it's an excellent game, as I knew it would be, but there are a few things about it that I felt made the game slightly less endearing than the others. I'll address those things first, in no particular order.

#5. The Environment

Okay, this is a pretty nit-picky beef I had with the game, but this here is MY blog and I'll be as finicky as I please. -_=

So Professor Layton and the Curious Village had a nice quaint town as it's locale, and that was fine. Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box had a fancy train (the layout of which was very annoying to navigate, but I liked it anyway because it reminds me of Paper Mario 2 or the Orient Express or something) and a really neat-looking city, and that was also fine. So I'm not entirely sure what the makers of this game were thinking when they were designing the locations for Unwound Future.

I have to imagine that someone suggested it just take place in London, but then someone else was like "No, that's too predictable... I know! How about this: London, but dirtier." And that's what they went with. It would have been okay if that was just one portion of the game, but the dirty, grimy, and quite possibly smelly theme is pretty pervasive throughout. Even the Chinatown area, while sort of neat-looking, is very bleak. If you somehow managed to overlook it, don't worry, because the characters (usually Luke) will incessantly remind you through their repetitive dialogue. "Gee, Professor, this alley sure is dirty!"

That Luke is such an insightful scamp.

#4. Sorry, were you going somewhere with that?

Oh, you weren't? Okay, cool.

I don't recall any instances of this in the previous games, but it's been a while since I played them, so I have to apologize if I'm being unduly harsh on Unwound Future. There are several points in this game that are given enough unwarranted emphasis as to suggest that they would play a bigger role in the plot. When they don't, it's just confusing and it makes you feel like you've missed something.

[Case #1]
There's a pet-shop in Chinatown that's run by a weird old woman who looks like a turtle. There aren't any pets there, just empty cages/tanks/etc. She's friendly to Layton and Co., but then starts going off on a tirade about how her husband is always wandering around like a deadbeat and not eating lunch with her. When you talk to her husband, he's all "Oh no, I don't know why she's mad at me, what ever should I do?" There's way too much dialogue about this to just be a random conversation. So naturally, you go back and forth, talking to both of them and expecting something to happen, but that's it! And each time you talk to the husband, it starts this ridiculously long conversation in which Layton tries his hand at being a marriage counselor (to no avail, apparently.) All things considered, there might be something I'm missing here, since I haven't completed 100% of the mini-games and all that. If not... what was the point of adding that in?!

[Case #2]
A shorter example of the above phenomenon, at one point there's a scientist standing around waiting for his friend, who is very late. He gives you a relevant puzzle, and if it had been left at that, I would have had no issues with this. Later, you run into his friend, who's standing around in a different location, also wondering why he's been stood up. The Hippocratic Oath of video games says that at this point, you should do the right thing and somehow help them to meet up. This proves to be impossible, they'll just stay in the same spot waiting for all eternity, despite the game leading you to believe otherwise.

[Case #3]
One final example is the introduction of Beasley as the replacement for Granny Riddleton. He's a bee (ew), and they put enough thought into it to give him a voice actor and everything. For some reason, he hangs out in a shack with a big old sunflower for about half the game. Later, he's spontaneously murdered and replaced by Puzzlette, Granny Riddleton's obnoxiously-voiced granddaughter. Her thirst for blood knows no boundaries, and she goes as far as to smash the sunflower, and it lies crushed on the floor whenever you visit it's previous locations. I can't understand why they didn't just introduce her from the beginning. Why was there a talking bee?! Why was he hanging out with a sunflower? So many questions left unanswered.

#3. The Toy Car Mini-game
This mini-game seems like pure laziness on someone's part, as it brings absolutely nothing new to the table. All they did for this was take the hamster mini-game from Diabolical Box and make it slightly less fun. In the hamster game, you had several different items that you could use to make the hamster react in different ways. The toy car game takes a step backwards, as you can only choose to move forward in various directions or to jump.

It's not that it's terrible, it's just redundant.

#2. The Picture Book Mini-game
Okay, I know I just complained about the unoriginality of the toy car game. The picture book is certainly novel, it's just a little... boring. You occasionally get stickers from people after you solve their puzzles, and you can insert these stickers into the picture books to complete the stories. The stories themselves are very simple and not especially interesting, they either read like incomplete Mad Libs or reading comprehension excerpts from an ESL handbook. In any case, this one isn't terrible, either, but it's hardly an improvement upon the earlier games.

#1. The Parrot

Unwound Future introduces a parrot that gets it's own mini-game, not unlike the hamster in Diabolical Box. They even consider it to be a part of your party, and there's a little parrot icon next to Luke/Layton/Flora/whoever's with you at the time. "Oh fantastic!" you say, "The parrot is a noble animal, please tell me more!" I normally am a big fan of anything parrot-related, because parrots are fabulous, but this mini-game is anything but. The objective is to arrange a certain limited number of ropes to form perches. The parrot then uses the perches you've made to navigate his way through an obstacle course and deliver items to people within a short time limit. There's a good chance that I'm just retarded, because I'm sure there are plenty of people out there that are good at and enjoy this game, but it only serves to frustrate me. It all comes down to how well you understand trajectory, which is too much like math for my liking.

I completed a total of ONE of these missions, and I don't really have the patience to figure out the others.


By reading all that, you may find it hard to believe that I actually liked the game; but believe me, I did! I think that most of my mini-game related bitterness is due to the fact that I loved the camera mini-game in Diabolical Box. Spot the Difference is more interesting than obstacle courses any day, but it really comes down to personal preference. So now, for some praise...

First of all, despite the fact that I didn't care for the environment, Unwound Future is notably less claustrophobic than Curious Village or Diabolical Box. Both of these games have very distinct boundaries. In the first game, you spend most if not all of the game inside the village, and it's very closed-off. The second one has several different locations (the train, Dropstone, Folsense), but once you finish that part of the storyline, you generally can't return to previous areas. Unwound Future is different in that you can move about freely between locations whenever you want. It also adds a subway/bus system for added mobility.

Another great improvement was the renovation of the memo feature. Now, not only can you scribble notes over the puzzles, you can make notes in 8 different colors, change the thickness of the pencil tool, and even erase! It's extremely helpful, if not necessary, for solving some of those trickier puzzles. The puzzles themselves are about on par with all of the previous ones, though some do seem a little too familiar, and others are straight-up MATH PROBLEMS. But I digress.

Last, but not least, the plot was pretty decent in this game. IMHO, it was better than Curious Village, but I'm not sure whether I liked it more/less/the same as Diabolical Box. It was certainly interesting, and I kind of liked that at the end, they were like "lol jk guys, time travel doesn't actually exist!" At first I thought it was going to end up being totally predictable, but as it turned out, they actually had me going with some of the plot twists. I never did fully trust future Luke, though, there were just too many times where he wanted me to follow him into storage closets and creepy wooded areas. The ending was sad, and now I'm confused because it seemed like they were leading into another game, despite Wikipedia listing it as the last one (chronologically, I know there's 2 prequels coming out.)

So there you have it. That turned out to be way more long-winded than I intended, though I feel like I say that about every blog entry I write. I should just come to terms with the fact that I ramble when writing and be done with it. Cheers!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Blonde again… sort of.

I had to dye my hair again already, I feel like I just did it but I used a rinse last time and it was already fading pretty badly. Despite being kind of tempted to dye it bright red or brown or something (something about the seasons changing always makes me want to do drastic things to my hair), Kaz convinced me to keep it sort of blonde for the time being. I decided to go back to using L'oreal Féria, which turned out to be a good idea. Golden Sunset/#73 came out something like this:

It actually left my hair feeling a LOT more healthy than the one I used last time, and the smell of the conditioner didn't make me want to vomit. 8D;


Kaz left a few hours ago for his second (and hopefully final) business trip, I'm bored already. D: He'll be in Mississippi until at least the 22nd, I hope I find a job before he gets back. I'm so tired of applying for things! At least today is still the weekend, so I don't feel as bad about not spending every waking hour scouring the classifieds for jobs. (シ_ _)シ

I don't know why I bother doing this, but I've entered yet another contest on PoupeeGirl, the autumn coordinate contest. The voting system is so tedious, though, I hate scrolling through page after page of entries. Guess it can't be helped.

So yeah. Vote for me! ♪(o ̄∇ ̄)/

Oh yeah! And I got the new Professor Layton game today… new as in newly translated, it's been out in Japanese forevs, but it just came out in English today. I was really tempted just to import it a while ago, but I'm bad enough at logic puzzles in English, and didn't want to deal with the added mental exertion of it being in Japanese. |・ω・`) Haven't started playing it yet, but I think I will once I finish writing this. I may write a bit of a review once I finish it, but there probably wouldn't be much of a point because all of the games are pretty much the same. If you like one, you like them all.

Don't have a whole lot else to write about. The season finale of True Blood is tonight, I'm so sad! Season 4 doesn't start for like 3 million years, I don't know what to do with myself in the meantime. I've been toying with the idea of watching Mad Men, but I'm not sure yet. Anyone know if it's good? I've only really heard positive reviews, so… ( ̄~ ̄;)

Okay, this DS game isn't going to play itself, I've got work to do! Cheers☆ミ

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Nothing to see here, move along.

It's been almost 2 weeks since I've written anything here, I thought time was only supposed to fly when you're having fun? Things have been going pretty predictably lately, so I haven't had much new to report. I'm guess I'll get started on part 2 of my previous post, at least.

I managed to drive to O'Hare to pick Kaz up last Friday, that was an adventure. I'm such an inexperienced driver, so I try to take back-roads whenever possible. Especially when there's toll-roads involved. In retrospect, it probably would have been significantly easier if I had just sucked it up and taken the highway. Oh well!

Didn't do a whole lot worth mentioning over the weekend, and this week has been pretty low-key so far. All of the job listings I've found this week are particularly useless, they're all for really specific jobs like bus driver, welder, or "entertainer for upscale gentleman's club." And they're largely posted by people who write at a third grade level. Third grade is even generous for people who write things like "Seeking a experience Dental Assistant!!" I don't even know what that means.

In other news, I'm really relying on our crock pot to do most of my cooking lately. Two of the easiest and best meals I've made (Pork & sauerkraut and BBQ pulled pork) involve dumping all of 3 or so ingredients into the crock pot and letting it cook for a few hours. This leads me to conclude beyond all reasonable doubt that pork + crock pot = success. Doesn't make for good food photography, unfortunately.

Kaz has to leave again on Sunday for some business trip to (wait for it) Guntown, Mississippi. I looked it up on Google maps and it has like... 2 streets. It's like something out of an RPG game, but more ghetto. There's a post office, fire department, school, a few houses, a store, and the mayor's office. And a cemetery. So even though I'm unemployed, at least I don't live there.

Alright, pointless update is pointless, now back to scouring the internet for jobs I won't get. Cheers! 8D

Saturday, August 28, 2010

So you’re thinking of teaching English in Japan? - Part I

I’ve been debating writing about this topic for a while now, and I think it’s time to stop putting it off. Despite my overwhelming laziness when it comes to writing anything of actual substance and my hesitation to write about my previous employers (c’mon, it’s just plain bad etiquette), there’s a glaring lack of information about what to expect if you do decide to take the plunge. It’s an unfortunate truth that many people go with misconceptions about what the job will be like, so I’ll try to provide as much information about my own experiences as I can. I hope it helps!

{My background and motivations}

I worked as an Assistant Language Teacher (or ALT) in Japan from spring of 2009 to 2010. I guess it would be inappropriate for me to say what company I worked for, but I will say it has the same name as that organ that pumps blood throughout your body. Ahem.

As a Japanese language major and recent college graduate, teaching English in Japan seemed like a fairly logical next step. I wanted to actually be able to use my degree in some way, and that was almost certainly not going to happen if I stayed in Pennsylvania. I had precisely 0 teaching experience, and the only time I’d been around children for any length of time was when I was one. You’d think that this would have disqualified me from becoming a teacher at all, but that’s the great thing about becoming an ALT… If you have a B.A. and you speak English (non-native speakers, just fake it), you’re in!

{Getting hired}

Now, I can’t testify to the hiring processes of other English schools in Japan, since I obviously only worked for one. What I do know is that I applied at one or two that didn’t hire me, and I missed the deadline for applying to JET. Maybe JET, Interac, AEON, and all the others have a more stringent hiring process, but mine consisted of me filling out an application, having a 15 minute phone interview in which I don’t think the interviewer fully understood the questions they were asking me, and voila! Job offer! If only finding work in the States were so easy. For the record, the call quality was terrible during the interview and I thought I totally botched it, but everything worked out.

{Before you go…}

I knew going into it that my company had pretty terrible employee satisfaction rates, but I figured that most people only bother writing something about their job on the internet if they hated it. Sure, some of it might be true, but people do have a tendency to over-dramatize every perceived slight in the workplace. And even if I hated the job, the contract was only for a year, and I’d still get a chance to work in Japan and thus improve my Japanese. Mission accomplished, right? Well, sort of. While I’m sure I learned SOME stuff while I was over there, I fell into the same trap as many foreigners living overseas and used English waaaay more than I should have. But that was entirely my own fault.

So I gleaned what information I could from the internet and my company’s website, which asks all new ALTs to bring at least $3000USD with them for rent, security deposit, living expenses for when you first arrive, and all sorts of other incidentals. Surely, they had to be exaggerating, but I did manage to bring roughly that amount with me just in case. As it turns out, you can easily spend all of that and more when you first arrive, because there is a shit-ton (roughly 180 metric tons) of stuff you need to pay for and buy once you get there.

I won’t delve into the frustration that is packing up everything you might need in a year and trying to fit it into two suitcases, let’s just all agree that it is extremely difficult. And I’m not even one of those girls with 9000 pairs of shoes, I travel pretty lightly.

Again, (and I can’t stress this enough) I can’t speak for other companies, but in my case, I didn’t find out anything about where in Japan I was going to be working until practically right before I left. It was explained to me that this was more the fault of the local boards of education and excessive red-tape than anyone at my company, but it was still rather irritating. As a rule, I don’t like surprises, I like to know what to expect well in advance. Fortunately, as a result of either extremely good karma or divine intervention, I managed to get one of the most sought-after placements they had to offer. I managed to get placed in Urayasu, which is a suburb of Tokyo and one of the wealthiest areas in Japan! By sheer coincidence, this was also the very city I’d studied abroad in during fall of 2006, so I already was very familiar with the area and thrilled to be going back. I didn’t know what school I’d be teaching at by this point, but I didn’t especially care.

{Once you arrive…}

Before starting the job, there was a mandatory training… thing… up in Ibaraki prefecture. Not too far, but certainly not close. I arrived at Narita a day early, and spent the first night in a hotel near the airport. It had been reiterated numerous times that no one from the company was going to hold your hand and assist you, especially with issues not related to teaching. This wasn’t much of an issue for me, since I usually didn’t want or need their help. However, I have to admit that getting off of the plane and having to get to Mito on my own was rather stressful. I managed to haul my luggage (that weighed more than me) to my hotel just fine, but when I went to purchase my bus ticket to Mito the following day, the lady at the ticket counter said I couldn’t bring that much luggage on the bus. She vaguely suggested I use a delivery service to send one of the bags, but couldn’t tell me anything about how to do that.

So I wandered around Narita, panicking that I might miss the bus, and eventually I found the luggage delivery counter. They were much nicer and more helpful, and shipping one of my two suitcases was delightfully cheap. I highly recommend doing this, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation. I made it to the bus just in time, and arrived in Mito later that afternoon. They had sent all ALTs a map of the area, with extremely vague walking directions from the station to the hotel. Sending one of my suitcases was the best thing to have happened, because it was a HIKE from there to the hotel. I’m not sure I would have made it there in one piece had I been carrying both of them. Again, I made it to my next destination unscathed, and checked into the hotel (the company didn’t pay for the hotel, either, but it was extremely cheap, so it wasn’t that big of a deal).

Training was held here, in a dank basement of this ugly government building.

I say that this was training because that’s what they called it, but the several days spent there was an extremely tedious “orientation” at best, and a waste of money for a hotel room at worst. I did get to meet some other ALTs at this point, but I never saw most of them again once training concluded, as everyone was working in different cities throughout the Kanto region.

Me during lunch with Bridget, my former Penn State classmate and coincidental co-worker in Japan.

IIRC, we had two days of orientation, which mostly consisted of the company warning us of things we weren’t to do, like molesting kids. They gave us very little information regarding what to expect once we were actually thrown into the classroom, which probably would have been nice, but alas. I had originally been told that I’d be teaching at one junior high school, but this turned out to be flat-out wrong. They gave me new information during the first training session, saying I’d be teaching at an elementary school instead. Honest mistake, I thought. As it turns out, this information was wrong as well, and I finally found out the next day that I was to teach at two separate elementary schools. Third time’s a charm, I suppose. They were still in the same city, so that was fine, but there’s a big difference between teaching in elementary schools and teaching in junior high schools, so that would have been nice to know in advance. Anyway, we also received information about where we’d be living at this point.


It’s my understanding that the majority of ALTs were set up in cheap apartments like Leo-Palace, at least in the more rural areas. Once you get closer to Tokyo, apartments become a LOT more expensive. To avoid having to be the guarantor for its employees, my company set ALTs up in guesthouses whenever possible. On the plus side, guesthouses are cheaper than apartments, you pay monthly and can leave when you please as long as you give a month’s notice, and you typically don’t need a guarantor. As a foreigner, finding housing in Japan can be extremely difficult if you don’t have someone to co-sign for you. So if you’re living in Tokyo, a guesthouse can be a viable alternative, especially if you’re only staying for a few months to a year. The downside is that unlike an apartment, guesthouses usually have separate rooms, but shared facilities such as the kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry. It’s more like a college dormitory than anything. Since any apartments in my city would have been out of my price range and I wouldn’t have had a guarantor anyway, I went the route of the guesthouse.

At the conclusion of the training in Mito, ALTs were generally shown to where they’d be living by their area’s ALT coordinator. To be honest, I have no idea who my coordinator was, at this point. They originally told me it was some guy whose name eludes me now, but later I found out it was some completely different woman. Anyway, my city was a few hours by car from where the training was held, so they hired some car service to drop me off, and sent me on my way. Most. Awkward. Drive. EVER. It probably wouldn’t have been so annoying if the traffic wasn’t as terrible as it was. But I ended up spending the better part of a day riding shotgun with some middle-aged Japanese dude in bumper-to-bumper traffic. He didn’t speak any English, so save for occasional small-talk in Japanese, we spent a lot of the trip just sitting there in an uncomfortable silence. When we finally arrived in what was to be my new hometown of Minami-Gyoutoku, my chauffer wished me luck, and dropped me off at the doorstep of T&V Guesthouse.

My guesthouse was an unimpressive, generic-looking building that sat directly along a major road. There were 6 floors, 1-4 being co-ed and 5 and 6 exclusively for women. The kitchen, communal sitting area and lobby were all on the first floor, the laundry was on the third floor, and I lived on the 6th floor (Fortunately, there was an elevator, which only occasionally smelled like urine). The owner of the building, a kind of pervy but nice old dude, was there to show me to my room when I arrived. For some reason, I found him extremely difficult to understand, old Japanese guys really need to enunciate better. Later, the very creepy English-speaking landlord came by to explain the rules of the place and have me sign a contract, and he showed me how to get to the train station and to Maruetsu, a nearby supermarket. I also found out that I had to pay extra every month to rent the futon that was in my room, and I still had to buy a cover, sheets, and blanket for it.

My room, which I (for some reason) did not tidy up before photographing...

The room itself was miniscule. I once lived in a single dorm at Penn State, and this room was practically half the size of that. Fortunately, the size of my living space is not much of a concern to me at all. If it weren’t for all the sodomy, I’m sure I’d do very well if I were ever put in prison. My room was furnished with one awkwardly-shaped wardrobe for all of my clothing, a mini-fridge with a freezer section that was essentially useless, my rental futon, a sink/mirror combo, and a little desk thing that I could put my computer on. I managed to get through a year without buying much else in the way of furnishings, and even if I had, not much more would have fit in the room without greatly hindering my ability to walk around.

I took videos of the place when I got there, you can watch them HERE if you're really that curious.

One of the very first things I noticed was that if I opened the window (AC was expensive, the electricity wasn’t included in the rent), the wind would make the door to my room rattle. This drove me insane at first, as did all the noise from the street below my window. Equally unfortunate was the grime that would tend to build up, especially by the window, from all nonstop trucks/buses/cars going by. It wasn’t all bad, though, I had a pretty cool view since I was on the 6th floor. If you could ignore the big ugly bike store with its huge sign right across the street, it had a nice view of Tokyo in the distance, as well as the Ferris wheel in Kasai and the nightly fireworks at Tokyo Disneyland. So despite my initial disappointment with the place (living in Shin-Urayasu during my study abroad had really spoiled me), I came to really love Minami-Gyoutoku after a while.

Very crappy picture of the view from my room.

I hadn’t really intended to make this as long as I already have, but I guess I tend to ramble when I get nostalgic. Since this is already TL;DR, I’m going to split this topic up into 2 posts, and focus more on the actual teaching aspect of being an ALT in part two. Until then! =)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The most annoying catch 22.

I've now been unemployed for almost five months, and have been job-hunting seriously in this particular area for a little over two of those months. That said, I think I have done adequate research and come to the conclusion that I have identified the most irritating catch 22 in the universe.

You can't get a job without experience, and you can't get experience without a job. No exceptions.

...Okay, maybe a few exceptions. I guess if you have extremely good luck, shady connections, or rich parents, you might still be able to get a job. But I don't have any of these, so I can't be sure.

It used to be the case that if you had a college degree, that actually meant something, and you'd at least be able to get your foot in the door with a crappy entry-level job. Apparently, those days are no more, they must have ended just around the time that I graduated from Penn State with massive amounts of debt. I've seriously been applying to the most basic, barely over minimum-wage, clerical jobs, and 99% of them never even contact me. Of the few I've actually had interviews with, the consensus has generally been "Sorry, we hired someone with more experience." This really makes me want to smash my head with a blunt instrument. These are jobs that BARELY require a high-school diploma and a pulse. One or the other, in some cases. How much experience do you need to answer a telephone? It's starting to look like the only options remaining are either a) work at a call center, b) hang myself, or c) all of the above. Probably in that order.

(And no, I was not being serious just now, merely trying to make a point of how much I do not want to work in a call center.)

Technically, I do have some experience, but for the most part my employment history tends to work against me rather than for me. I didn't really work when I was in high school because I didn't need to, I barely worked when I was in college, save for some part-time jobs that I can't list as references because I didn't even know my co-workers' last names, and then there was the icing on the cake, teaching in Japan. Which seemed like it would look good on future resumes, but actually does not. Unless you're planning on going into the education field (which even if I wanted to, I couldn't, because I don't have a teaching degree) when you get back, or are good enough at Japanese to actually get a job using it, it really doesn't help at all. Potential employers will either be mildly impressed, as if you just told them you can eat 200+ hot dogs in 5 minutes, or they won't mention it at all. And if you're filling out job applications online, it's extra frustrating, because those little drop-down boxes in the "Employment History" section almost invariably do not have overseas options. Meaning, you end up being forced to list your previous employer as being located in "Tokyo, Pennsylvania", since Chiba prefecture is not one of the options and you can't proceed without choosing one.

And if your company is anything like mine, you can forget about listing them as a reference when you get back. They'll tell you flat-out that even if you were a model employee, they can't be bothered with that shit. But that's another story for another time, probably to be mentioned in my inevitable blog post about "Should you become an ALT in Japan?" Ahem.

So that's where I am right now. Anyone else experiencing this unfortunate phenomenon?

Monday, August 23, 2010

What day is it?

My perception of time is starting to get distorted from being unemployed so long, it's trippy. I had another job interview for a receptionist position on Friday, but they ultimately decided to hire someone that had more experience. I'm not sure much experience is required to answer a telephone, greet people, and generally maintain a body temperature of around 98.6, but apparently it's a lot. I'm annoyed, but also thankful that they actually took the time to shoot me an e-mail, since so few companies actually do, nowadays.

Oh well, back to the drawing board for the 9000th time.

This past weekend was nice, because Kaz actually got to come home from his ridiculously long business trip in California from Friday to Sunday evening. We found what is undoubtedly my new favorite Thai restaurant, which is delightfully close by. I was skeptical at first because of the name, Oishii Thai, and the fact that a Thai restaurant was offering sushi. But the food and service were both extremely good, I highly recommend it if you ever happen to be in the area. (though really, why would you? o_O)

On Saturday, I made 잡채/japchae, my first attempt at making Korean food. Back when I was at PSU, I'd get japchae pretty regularly at the Korean restaurant near campus. I found the recipe here, and followed it pretty closely, though I didn't have any sesame seeds. Did you know that a small bottle of those bad boys costs over $7? What. But anyway, lacking ingredients aside, it turned out great! I highly recommend that recipe, if it sounds like something you'd like to try.

Sometimes I think I like photographing food more than eating it... D8

...Jesus Christ, all I talk about lately is food. My apologies.

Anyway, we also went to see Piranha 3D on Saturday night. It was pretty much exactly what I expected it to be, no more, no less. Although we didn't consider how expensive 3D movies are, so when the guy was like "That'll be $30." for two tickets, we were both kind of floored. And then, I made the mistake of wanting a bottle of water and minuscule box of Reeses Pieces, which came out to over $8. Where do movie theaters get the balls to charge $4 for a bottle of water? I should have been paying more attention to the prices, no one needs bottled water that badly.

I won't really bother reviewing the movie, because I am lazy. All you need to consider is blood and tits. If you like either of those things, you will probably like Piranha.

Kaz left again for CA last night, and apparently the taxi driver who drove him to O'Hare was extremely fascinated about him dating a white girl and wanted to discuss at length everything there was to discuss about interracial relationships. So that was a little creepy. I'm not sure what I've even accomplished since he left. Today sort of flew by, and all I have to show for it is the eBay listing I made for one of the items Chieko gave me to auction off.

Anyone in need of a Toby Keith flask? No? Okay, cool, didn't think so. But if you change your mind, you know where to look!

Guess I'll get back to whatever it was I was doing before I started this. If I can figure out what that was.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Oh dear...


...Evidently. I went to dye my hair again this morning because my roots were looking like shit, even though I dyed it not so long ago. I used the same brand and type as last time, L'oreal Healthy Look. I normally don't use rinses (because really, what's the point?) but my hair is sort of damaged lately, so I wanted to use something that wasn't so harsh. Last time, I used one that was one shade lighter, and it didn't change the color much at all. This time, I used...

8G, Soft Golden Blonde

My mom uses this one as well, and she says it works great. The color looks really nice on her, so I thought I'd give it a try.

But um... my hair is definitely BROWN now. I haven't gotten around to taking a picture of it yet, but there's no mistaking that it is not blonde. I'm not necessarily mad about that, except the color is kind of brassy
. And I still would have been fine with it, but the dye didn't take to a sizable chunk of my hair on the right side! I used the entire bottle, so I highly doubt I missed a spot, but there's a section that just looks noticeably lighter than the rest. I'm annoyed, but I don't want to a) buy another box of dye to fix it, and b) subject my hair to the dying process so soon after just doing it. Ugh, what to do... It's a shame I look terrible in hats.

And one other complaint is that the conditioner they give you contains an ingredient called "Royal Jelly", which sounds like some kind of spermicidal lubricant used by kings, and it smells like Amoxicillin. It's disgusting, and I can't use it because it reminds me of like, Redi-Care.

But I digress.

On a more pleasant note, I made Annindofu/杏仁豆腐/Douhua/Almond pudding (or whatever the hell else you want to call it) last night. We had it the other day at Chieko's friend Chika's house, and when I saw how easy it was to make, I had to give it a try. I didn't have kanten, so I had to substitute regular unflavored Knox gelatin and that worked fine. I followed this recipe, the only thing I skipped was straining the milk mixture through a sieve. And instead of making it in individual cups, I made the gelatin in a large, shallow tupperware container for easy storage. After it chilled, I cut it into cubes and topped it with mandarin oranges, some other canned fruits, and fresh blueberries. Unfortunately, the blueberries were from Jewel, and as with much of their produce, they tasted like crap. Super sour! Everything else was great, though, it's a really nice, refreshing dessert that doesn't have a lot of calories.


Anyway, yes. And now I have to go take some pictures of inanimate objects, and for once it isn't for PoupeeGirl. I'm going to be selling some leftover concert swag on eBay for Chieko and Ryan in the near future. I've never sold anything on eBay, but it doesn't look so complicated. Anyone need some Justin Bieber tote bags?
(I know I don't. 8D

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's been 4 years already?

I just realized that next week it'll be exactly 4 years since I left to study abroad in Japan. I could only afford to spend one semester there, but it was such a great experience and now I'm getting all nostalgic just thinking about it.

Since I majored in Japanese in college, study abroad was a requirement for graduation, but I didn't really need much convincing. Penn State had a few different programs to choose from, if I recall, though I really was only considering either Nagoya or Tokyo through IES. I had originally been leaning towards going to Nagoya, but for some reason the study abroad coordinator recommended Tokyo instead, and that's where I ended up going.

The IES Tokyo program was sort of divided up into 2 schools, Kanda University for those focusing on Japanese culture, and Meikai University if you were taking the intensive Japanese language course. Even in the intensive language program, you still had to take at least one (or was it 2? I only remember taking one...) non-language class. Those were almost exclusively taught at Kanda, but Intro to Japanese Society and Culture was at Meikai, and I chose that one for the locational convenience of it.

I was extremely fortunate to be placed in a homestay in Shin-Urayasu that happened to be a 5 minute walk from Meikai University, so I had arguably the easiest commute in the history of mankind. My host family was awesome, but I didn't really keep in touch with them once I left, which I still feel bad about.

The awesome view from my homestay.

To be honest, the "intensive" language program was not all that intensive. I have to cut Meikai a little bit of slack here, since the program was brand new when I went and they clearly had not worked all the bugs out yet. They gave everyone a test/interview, and based on the results, stuck you in one of three classes, Sogo 1, Sogo 2, or Sogo 3 (with 3 being beginner, 2 being intermediate, and 1 being advanced). Almost everyone was in Sogo 2, which was a little baffling. Sogo 3 only had three people in it, if I recall, and Sogo 1 had a total of 6 students, including myself.

Our classroom! This picture makes me so nostalgic.

From what I could tell, all three classes followed a similar formula that consisted of using a laughably terrible textbook and doing skits. OH, THE SKITS. That's some lazy teaching, right there. I'm going to go ahead and say that a full 60% of our class time was skit-related, it was ridiculous. Fortunately, I liked everyone that was in my class, so even when we given awful assignments, I always had a lot of fun. The textbook was written by some crazy old lady who for some reason held a position of high authority at Meikai. It was so outdated that it might just as well have been written on papyrus, and whoever proofread that shit had the English skills of a mildly retarded parrot. As a Japanese textbook, it didn't really need to have English in it at all, but it did, and that English contained such gems as "Legthy elevarors transport passengers the streets". No joke. It also featured some grade-A, borderline-racist classics like "Unlike us Japanese, Westerners prefer to dine in darkness." I don't even know how to classify "Speaking of non-descript existences... how about 'ninja'?" Oh, Nobuko Mizutani, the things you say...

The teachers at Meikai were kind of a strange bunch. They rotated for some reason, as in, we'd have one teacher for a while, then they'd leave us and go teach Sogo 2, I have no idea why they did this if not just to confuse us. I only really remember three teachers well, but I know we had at least one more. First, we had Tani-sensei, who was the strict and disapproving obaasan-type. All I really remember is her going NUTS on one of our classmates one day for repeatedly using a pen despite her constantly telling us to use a pencil. She also got annoyed at our class for not taking our skits seriously enough, but generally speaking, I think she liked us. Then there was Mitsuhashi-sensei, who was BATSHIT INSANE, and though I didn't like her at first, she grew on me. The only thing I remember well about Hatakeyama-sensei was that she reminded me of a velociraptor and I believe that she secretly hated us a lot. There was a male teacher whose name I forget, and all I can say about him was that he had an unhealthy obsession with Hello Kitty and sort of creeped me out.

All of them would make us do several skits a week, both little mini-skits in groups of 3 in front of our own class, and then on a regular basis they would pit the three classes against each other in these awkward skit contests that anyone from the school/staff/random media sources could attend. Meikai liked to seem international, so they really took pleasure in making their foreign students dance like trained monkeys on stage for people to see. What's funny is that they had a sort of "separate but equal" philosophy when it came to us whities. We didn't actually have any classes with Japanese students, and in fact, we never even really had occasion to be in the same building as them. All of our classes were confined to one building that was on the other side of all the athletic fields and all of that, the Bekka. These forced skit performances were probably the only time that the Japanese students realized that we were there, so I can only imagine what strange opinions they must have had of us.

Oddly, there was one skit that our class was responsible for that all the teachers fucking loved. It came to be known as "the mujintou (deserted island) skit", and it started out as a mini-skit conceived by Ryan, Jeffrey Logan-san (J-Lo), and Joe. The teachers loved it so much that they kept demanding encores, and we ended up doing it at least twice after that, including at the IES farewell party. To summarize, the three of them were shipwrecked on a desert island, and after a few days in the heat and without any food, Joe goes insane from the hunger. He says there's no choice but to eat a rabbit that Ryan has befriended. Ryan goes nuts and tells them he won't allow it, and flings the rabbit at Joe in a fit of rage, accidentally killing him. J-Lo witnesses the killing, so Ryan kills him too. Then he looks at their dead bodies and, realizing there is food to be had, asks the rabbit if it likes meat. Ironically, he's now a vegetarian. In one variation of this skit, the last question was followed by a maniacal laugh that only Ryan is capable of producing. No one enjoyed doing these skits, but in retrospect, it was pretty amusing.

Anyway, It's hard to remember specifics now, but IIRC, we had class from either 8 or 9am until about noon. Afternoons were when people had their various culture classes, and since I only had the one, almost all of my afternoons and evenings were totally free. So after a morning of way too easy Japanese class, I'd usually spend the rest of the day shopping/getting curry or Wendy's/going to karaoke with my classmates Ryan and Brette. In retrospect, maybe that's why I my Japanese didn't improve as much as it did, but I'd do it all again in a heartbeat!

Purikura! We did so many of these...

[/ nostalgic rambling]