June 28, 2007
I keep trying to imagine what my life might be like over in Japan, but I haven't been very successful. Though I'm asking lots of questions and getting lots of answers from people who are over there now, it just doesn't seem to be enough to give me an idea of how it will be for me and how I will react to it all.
I'm afraid it may be a little while before I post again as I have a friend in town on Friday and Saturday. Alana is my friend from the French dorm at UGA who is also going to be in Japan on the JET Programme. She is coming in to go to the JET Q & A session on Saturday. I might get a post off on Sunday about what we learn, but then I'll be heading out of town on Monday for a week to Pennsylvania to visit my extended family and help out my parents with their new home up there.
Even though I know I've done a lot already to prepare for the trip, I'm afraid it's still going to be a mad dash to get everything squared away those last weeks once I return from Pennsylvania.
June 22, 2007
It seems like a reasonable change, seeing as the officials made the mistake, but American veterans are upset over it. I'm not sure I understand their point of view, but then again, I wasn't there and I didn't have to fight to defend our country.
June 20, 2007
Well, anyway, I am pretty much set for Japan. I just turned in that stuff and I sent a reply to the travel agency and so that's pretty much it. I'll be leaving in about 6 weeks. And the more I look at where I'll be working and living, I realize that I have a very good placement. It's going to be great! Woohoo!!!
June 17, 2007
I'm about to start going through it. I'll let you know specifics and interesting points once I've gone through it all.
June 16, 2007
One more step that makes it seem even closer!
(I'm not looking forward to the hellishly long flight, though.)
June 15, 2007
I'm pretty excited because I finally have one type of kana memorized now - hiragana. I started way back in November and last week I was able to finally get all of them memorized. Now I can read aloud (and sound like a kindergartner while I'm doing it). I started some classes back in October, but that was just to learn speaking basics, not any of the writing. But on my own, I started to learn the symbols. But then mid-terms came around and the classes ended and I stopped practicing Japanese for a while. Then about 2 months ago I started memorizing the symbols again and managed to keep going through finals time and now I'm done with hiragana.
The other set of kana is called katakana. Now, here's the crazy part - hiragana and katakana are two sets of symbols that represent the SAME sounds!!! The only difference is that hiragana are used to write words of Japanese origin and katakana are used to write words of foreign origin. That's the only difference. They are kind of like an alphabet except with an alphabet, each symbol represent a single sound (for the most part). Kana are called syllabaries because each symbol represents a syllable. So か represents /ka/ and さ represents /sa/. They don't have symbols for /k/ or /s/. (They do have a symbol for /a/, あ, because that's a vowel and a vowel can be a syllable by itself.) Having 5 vowel sounds and about 8 basic consonant sounds, it works out to 46 different symbols. Then they have two small symbols you can add to the regular ones to alter the syllable, usually to make a /ta/ into a /da/ or a /ho/ into a /po/ or /bo/. THEEEENNNN, you can combine some of the syllables with the 3 different 'y' syllables - /ya/ や, /yu/ ゆ, /yo/ よ - to make new syllables. So really, there are like a 100 different possibilities for combinations. Oh and that's just one syllabary. Don't forget there's a whole nother syllabary for the exact same sounds, just different symbols. (カ instead of か and サ instead of さ)
Needless to say it's a daunting task, but I'm taking my time. Like I said, I just finished with hiragana, and now, I'm working on katakana, the one for foreign words (which, now I heard, is actually more important to learn first). Anyway, I have about 10 of the symbols memorized for katakana - only 36 more to go. And you might think, well if they have all that, what the heck are romaji and kanji for, the ones I mentioned before? Well Japanese borrowed its writing largely from Chinese writing. Kanji are symbols that represent ideas rather than sounds. Sort of like hieroglyphics. So when you see kanji, you should just know the word and therefore how to say it - no sounding it out. Why, you might ask, do you have kanji AND kana? Well, I don't know. You can actually write anything you want using only kana. It's just that historically, they've used kanji to represent their ideas. The hiragana are mainly used for small words like prepositions and particles that don't add much meaning. And the katakana are for foreign words. So to read a newspaper, you really have to know all three ways of writing. I read somewhere that it takes Japanese people about 9 years in school to get to where they can read and write proficiently in all three. And then there are romaji. These are roman letters (our alphabet) used to write Japanese words. They aren't used a lot in Japan apparently, but help western foreigners when they start out learning Japanese. So you can see 'sayoonara' and know basically how to say it rather then being asked to read さよおなら right off the bat.
Anyway, departure date is getting closer and I'm getting more and more excited.
June 13, 2007
June 8, 2007
I've actually been in touch with a guy who is one town over from the one I will be in. He has said some very complimentary things about Kagawa. He said the mountains are nice and he and another JET will go off exploring and hiking. Sounds like something I would like to do. When I was out in Arizona to visit my sister, I went hiking on Camelback Mountain. It was pretty amazing. Maybe I'll find some places like that in Japan.
Well, my FBI background check came in - no arrest record (except for the pimpin' charge - who knew the FBI was a playa hater). So I've got to pass that along to the consulate along with a copy of my IRS proof of US residence form (that means I don't have to pay Japanese taxes!). Then, I've got to RSVP for a Q and A session they are having for new JETs in Atlanta. And I think that's it for a little bit.
Supposedly, the school district is going to contact me directly with their information and a contract that I have to sign and send back. Also, the JET who I'm replacing should be getting in touch with me as well to give me the low-down on the situation. Once I know where I'll be, I then have to apply for the work visa. And at some point a travel agent is going to contact me to get the air travel all squared away. The school district will be covering travel costs. And then I'm off to J-Land. I'm getting pumped about this!
(I have to apologize for the playa joke - major cheese. It was for the kids.)
June 7, 2007
Well anyway, I tried to make sure that everyone got my contact information before I left school, but I forgot about my seniors. They were already gone by the time I had everything set up. If you’re friends with one of the recent graduates, pass along my blog address and my email to them. You can find my email address on the profile page for my blog. Here it is if you can’t find it on the profile page. I’ll be using that from now on including in
The school already cancelled my email account for them, so don’t bother with that address anymore. This means that I lost a lot of addresses that I had stored with it. I actually just sent out a mass email to everyone I had an email address for. If you didn’t get it, that means I don’t have your email address now (either it was deleted with the school account, or I never had it). So if you want to be sure I have your address, send an email along.
I haven't been very successful in the past with staying in touch over time and distance, but I'm trying to set everything up before I go, seeing as how I have 2 months of freedom until my departure date. While, I plan on keeping up with email, I decided that this here blog would be the best way for keeping everyone informed of what I'm doing over in
Also, I’m moderating the comments. That means that your comment won’t appear right away, but usually within a day or so.
Thanks everyone for the supportive emails that I’ve gotten so far.