Friday, May 29, 2009

Let's restart this thing!

Looking back over the last post on this blog, almost two years ago, I wrote about reservations about going abroad.

I must have gotten over those reservations, because months of applications and paperwork later, I'm pretty much set to spend eleven months in Japan starting in September! All scholarships are in, all contracts are signed...all we need is a specific start date for the program for plane tickets to be purchased!

Watch this space for updates, pictures, and thoughts on life abroad!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Help! Part Two

In the previous post I talked about my quandary over what courses to take next semester and that the whole point of the issue is to get ready to do study abroad next year. But the truth of the matter is that now I am also in a quandary over whether I really want to do study abroad next year or not. Well, that's not quite true. I want to do study abroad next year. But I also really want to stay in Pittsburgh next year. I want to do crew and get an apartment with my friends and just chill here in the states for awhile.

I know that if I go, when I go, I won't regret it and will settle into life in Japan and make friends there and learn lots of Japanese. For my ultimate goal of becoming an interpreter, it would be the best thing. But at the same time I will miss things here. I'm afraid that friendships will move and develop and when I come back there won't be a place for me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


I made the appointment to meet with my adviser and register for classes early in November, which is screaming up on us. I'm having a really tough time figuring out my schedule for next semester, and we talked for a long time during my pre-registration advising
appointment, and then I made a separate appointment and met with the Japanese major adviser.

My essential quandry is this: I'm seriously considering (trying my hardest) to do a study abroad program next year in Japan. It's a special one that was a major factor in my coming to Pitt at all: you go and enroll for a year as a regular Japanese student, taking all your courses in Japanese and staying in an apartment (as opposed to a homestay). So this next semester will be essential in preparing for that. Should I continue my course of this semester and take fourth year Japanese, which focuses on reading and hardly any speaking, while also taking third year Japanese, which is entirely review for me but involves lots of speaking practice? If I do that, I won't be able to take the class on Japanese language acquisition that my current fourth year professor, Nishi, is teaching because of time conflicts. She is a visiting professor for this year: the course is a one-time only offering, and I like her very much and would love to have two classes with her. Also, if I take third year Japanese I would not be able to take Classical Japanese (which is offered every spring semester) but I would be able to take Arabic with my very good friend who I take Arabic with now.

So if I don't take third year Japanese and take the language acquisition course, I could take
Classical Japanese. I would then have to take a different section of Arabic, probably the same one as someone on the floor who I don't feel very comfortable with, which would be incredibly awkward and not enjoyable at all.

Another thing to take into consideration is that I really don't enjoy my third year class at all. Since it's review, it's not really interesting or difficult, but the method of instruction drives me up a wall. Everything is structured around memorizing conversations that are set out in the book, with nearly no original speaking involved at all. Where I previously would study with my teacher and sit down and have a half hour conversation, I am now reduced to sitting staring into space for ten or fifteen minutes until it's time for my turn to engage in this little exchange:

Teacher: Try pushing this button.
Me: What happens when I push the button?

Return to staring into space. I have more to say about this method of teaching, but that's for a different post. The point is that I don't like it but I wonder if it's good for my speaking anyway, and whether I'm leaning towards not taking the continuation of the course next semester because I feel that the schedule without it would be better for my Japanese or because I dislike it so much.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Happy Tuesday

The sun was setting behind the clouds, lighting the sky in soft muted colors of blues and pinks as a misty rain fell intermittenly. Occasionally a dark line of geese would pass us, flying faster than we could ever move the boat, and out of the corner of my eye I can see that among the green of the trees lining the river, a tint of gold has begun to appear.

I shake my head a little and a bead of sweat goes by my eye, but no time to wipe it away. "Seat number six, faster with the hands and arms! You are late!" comes the coach's call, and I concentrate, working with everything, mind and body. The treasured, hoped for words come like audible gold: "Good job, seat number six."

And for that one moment, the world is perfect.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Highs, Lows

High: leaving the Islamic Civilization classroom knowing that all that studying I did? It paid off.

Low: no matter how much I searched my room, with other people helping, I couldn't find my ATM card

High: sitting on the top bunk in a friend's room, eating ice cream and watching this week's episode of NCIS

Low: 12:30 in the morning when there is still hours of homework left to do and that feeling as if the weight is going to crush me

High: checking my email, one last time, at three thirty when I finish the homework and discover emails from my old Japanese teacher and old Japanese host mother waiting for me.

All in the same 24 hours...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Procrastination Nation

I have a midterm on Thursday in my Islamic Civilization class. So instead of studying like mad*, I'm procrastinating by reading articles on line and then writing about them here (this particular article comes to my attention courtesy of Phil), who is a wonderful procrastination resource.

I had my pre-registration advising meeting today (hang on, I will connect these paragraphs), which was good but a little frustrating for reasons at the moment irrelevant. However, the point is that next semester I have to take a course entitled Seminar in Composition, wherein, if you can't tell from the title, we get to learn how to write a paper, and have to write one every week.

Going back to Phil and this article, which you should go read (especially if you're procrastinating or a programmer. Or a procrastinating programmer). Now, I am not a programmer, and the inner workings of most things computer related are to me a mystery I am content to leave alone. But this really jumped out at me. The writer here is talking about writing specs, which as far as I can tell from this article is something like a roadmap/plan about what you're going to code in your programming project, and why you should write one. He then goes on to say,

So why don't people write specs? It's not to save time, because it doesn't, and I think most coders recognize this ... I think it's because so many people don't like to write. Staring at a blank screen is horribly frustrating. Personally, I overcame my fear of writing by taking a class in college that required a 3-5 page essay once a week. Writing is a muscle. The more you write, the more you'll be able to write.

Which brings me back around to Seminar in Composition. And here, people, from the mouth of a programmer, of all types of people, is the reason why we have to take this class. Turns out it has all sorts of usefulness and real life applications, argh argh argh.

I really wanted to complain about it, too.

* I am studying for this test! I have a six page study guide that is mostly memorized already to prove it! I'm just taking a break. So nobody get mad at me. I will PWN this test with awesome strength.

Monday, October 1, 2007

And there Was General Rejoicing Throughtout The Land

When you open the mailbox, and there is a package for you, there is a pink card that says "There is a package waiting for you. Present this card to collect your package." Happiest thing to get ever, except that usually for me it's just a newsletter or something from church that's too big to fit in the little mailbox. So I wasn't actually that excited to get my little pink slip.

And then the lady in the mail room handed me a big package! And I was all, wait, what could it be?! And there was a shoebox inside! And inside the shoebox was not shoes but (drumroll please)


I was so excited! My grandmother sent me food! And, okay, my grandmother is, honestly speaking, not a good cook but everyone else without my particularness about baked goods has been eating the loaf of something bread without too many complaints. The group of people I hang out with most spends alot of time in the little "kitchenette" and bring in all the cookies and brownies and things that their parents send them to share. And I've been starting to feel guilty about always eating other people's food and not having anything to share. But My Grandmother sent me a shoebox with food! And I fed people with an interesting blueberry nut bread loaf thing and popcorn~!

My grandmother sent me a package :-D :-D :-D with food inside :-D :-D :-D

My grandmother loves me.