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Connie: End of semester update

February 13, 2011

When I was in America, finals week was never a problem for me. I rarely studied, and if I did it wasn’t any grueling task. Here it wasn’t like that at all. I was hitting the books for several weeks every moment I got. The Japanese people were no different – the library was entirely filled up every time I went. I didn’t enjoy the last minute bustle to learn everything. I’ve come to realize I really dislike the Japanese education system. It baffles me at how many intelligent Japanese people I can meet when they go through this kind of schooling.

The main difference is that Japanese classes almost never give homework. It seems to be a mix of lectures and the occasional presentation, but those are far and few in between. Even in language classes there is no opportunity to practice. In my Korean class I don’t think we ever spoke more than what we were told to repeat. This is in contrast to American university, where you are constantly required to practice what you learn. By doing it all semester, you’re able to retain a lot more and put it to use. The Japanese school system requires people to be self-motivated, and maybe it’s a bit sad that it’s been hard on all of us foreigners. I still prefer being given the opportunity to practice.

However, I think next semester I will make homework for myself. It’ll make it a lot easier on me when the end comes. I’m hoping it will also improve my Japanese, as that is mainly what my classes are comprised of.

Aside from improving my studying habits, I’ve made a few other decisions for next semester. I want to be more outgoing, and I want to try and immerse myself more. A student who was in the same program as me last year asked if we ever hung out with Japanese people, since he’s only rarely seen it. It’s too true and I want to change it.

The end of the semester means parties, free time and vacations. Here’s a quick overview of everything lately:

  • Thursday was my last final for Korean. Due to this, and the fact that the final wasn’t until 4:20pm, I went out with some friends and the Korean (who had an English final the next day). Good practice for both of us, even if I make funny mistakes in Korean like, “Who is that sock?”
  • Since it’s the end of the semester, people are leaving. Thursday night was a party for a Japanese girl going to study in Australia and a Korean boy going back to Korea. I had fun.
  • I’ve been telling people I’m the second most handsome person in Saijo. I keep running into the first most handsome all over town lately, and he greets me now.
  • One of the people I’ve met here is coming to my university next year! We’re going to go to the state fair together. I’m looking forward to it!
  • Friday we went into Hiroshima city for some shopping. Purchases: Persona 3′s soundtrack, a magazine from my favorite music shop, and a dog with an afro (the charming Afroken). Things I wish I’d purchased: the shirt I’ve been looking for everywhere. I hope it goes on sale.
  • Friday night was one of the Englishman’s birthdays. All-you-can-drink followed by karaoke. Highlights include talking to 6 random Japanese guys at the table next to us (who, as they always do, asked me who I thought was the most handsome) and keeping the birthday boy from jumping down a hill to see a family grave site.
  • Valentine’s day is coming up, so tonight some friends and I are making chocolate. I hope we make all of the boys in the program happy. I hope my friend will have just a little time after his presentation so I can give him some, too.
  • Tomorrow is practice for the jazz circle. It’s also another friend’s birthday. Then some time during the night is the party for the jazz circle members. I’m sorry I can’t stick around for my friend’s party, but I want to meet the other members.
  • Next week I’m off to Nagasaki! Remember my friend who dressed up like Pikachu? We’re going to his hometown, and his parents said they’d cook dinner for us!

It has been a busy few weeks, and it appears that it will continue that way. From here on out I’ll do my best. いつも頑張ります!

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