So, today we met the rest of the program participants, 3 from the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, and 2 from Canterbury University in New Zealand. Surprisingly, none of them study, let alone speak, any Japanese. I know if I was in their position I’d be frightened out of my brain. They’re lovely people, though. Our first class was supposed to be about teaching Japanese, so we learned greetings, numbers and body parts. I’m sure to the others it was handy but to us Aussies, it was like being back in year 8 Japanese.
It was harder than usual finding a table at lunch. Usually, it’s challenging to find a table for the 6 of us Aussies to sit at together; finding a table with 11 seats free was going to be a challenge of Olympian proportions. Apparently they succeeded but I couldn’t see them so I ended up sitting in a vacant seat on my own until I was joined by Eferemo, one of the Fijian students, who was also lost.
Towards the end of lunch, the Kiwi and Fijian students said they were off to meet President Itami, the university dean. We thought they meant only them, but after a moment it became quite clear that we were expected as well. President Itami was pretty cool – she’s a tiny little old Japanese lady, and she spoke rapid Japanese alternating with halting English for the benefit of the Fijian and Kiwi students. That ate a little into our calligraphy class, but no matter – so we thought.
We turned up to our calligraphy class a little late, and had expected to have a special class learning about the art of calligraphy – how to hold the brush, how some of the basic strokes go, stuff like that. Instead, we rock in a bit late, Ono-sensei (the co-ordinator) explains that we had been off meeting President Itami, and that was okay. We were asked to take a seat, given a brush pen, an A3 piece of paper and 3 pieces of tissue-thin calligraphy paper, and a photocopy from an old scroll or book or something written in hiragana, which we were asked to copy. It was… again, a challenge of Olympian proportions. After my first 2 crappy attempts (and I’m being quite honest, they were crappy) I decided to just practise some of my favourite Kanji instead, and found that all the other Aussie students were doing the same. The Fijians and Kiwis dutifully spent the lesson trying for a perfect copy – I guess, since they didn’t know what to try and decipher from the script (being nice, saying script instead of scrawl!!) they just copied like one would a drawing, whereas we could kinda see the individual hiragana (Japanese letters) and spent more time deciphering them and trying to work out how to form them and join them, than actually making a decent copy of the text. Again, monumentally difficult!
The day ended with us hanging out in one of the computer labs. We all found out our results for classes – I passed Japanese this time, hooray!! Not long after that, I went off to the AV hall to finish watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It was nice to listen to something I understood the whole of.
Sometime during the course of the day, I came down with a bit of a sore throat. By the time I’d gotten home, it was unbelievably sore. I think I’ve got a bit of a cold, my body’s response to the weather apparently doing a complete 180 – going from hot, muggy Brisbane weather to cold, windy Osaka weather would likely trigger a response in anyone’s immune system. I was eating dinner a bit slower than usual and Miki asked what was up so I mentioned that my throat was a bit sore. Well, the second I said so, she insisted that I go put a thermal and a t-shirt on under my pyjamas, and fetched me a blanket, and put like, 3 extra blankets on my bed plus a hot water bottle, and drowned me in about 5 cups of hot Oolong tea. Can’t say I’m not well looked after! I’m sure it’s nothing, just uncomfortable.
Well, that’s about everything.