All Work and No Play

Hello everybody, I hope your semester is off to a great start! These past two weeks have been very work intensive. I wanted to go to Kyoto last weekend but I had some issues due to the weather. However, this weekend the weather is supposed to be decent and I have already booked a hotel in Kyoto for 3 days! I am really looking forward to going on this trip because right now, the Plum blossoms are blooming and it will be very beautiful. As I am sure most of you already know, Kyoto is especially famous for its Cherry blossoms. Unfortunately, they are not in bloom yet but when they bloom (according to my teacher, it should be in 2 or 3 weeks), I am planning on going up there to take a ton of pictures. But for now, I will settle for Plum blossoms ;).
These past two weeks have been a bit stressful with all of the work I have been assigned. The best news I received this week was my score for my lesson 1 & 2 test in Japanese Reading and Writing class. I managed to get a 45.7/50. I have been working very hard trying to keep up with my Level 4 class. We go over material at such a fast rate that sometimes it feels overwhelming. 頑張る!
It is hard to believe that it is almost time for mid term exams. I feel like I just got here a week or two ago. Next Friday I have the first part of my midterm exam for spoken Japanese which entails an oral interview in my professors office. He told us if we want to do well on the oral section we should be very comfortable using 敬語 (Respectful style of speech.) If you have studied Japanese, you may know some Keigo and chances are you hate it, right :D? The same goes for about 90% of the 留学生(Study Abroad Students) currently attending Kansai. Every time you mention Keigo in the student lounge, it never fails the person next you you will mutter something bad about Keigo. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, the Japanese speak to their seniors completely different from how they speak to their parents and or friends. Most Japanese people even have difficulties and or dislike using Keigo. However, it is very important to have a good grasp on Keigo because chances are you will hear it almost everyday if you buy something in a store and or walk by a store. Also, if you plan on working in Japan, you better use Keigo during your Job interview! However, if you talk to Japanese students in Keigo, they will usually tell you do not need to use Keigo toward them. The reason being is because they feel as if you are putting distance between yourself and them. When talking to a friend, I usually use casual speech and sometimes polite speech. Therefore, this weekend while I am in Kyoto I plan on practicing a lot of Keigo to prepare for my Exam! In two weeks, I have 4 midterm exams so I think after this trip to Kyoto I will be studying pretty much every waking second of the days. But do not fear! I will make sure to post a short blog with a lot of pictures by the middle of next week.
I almost forgot, four days ago my homestay family took me out to dinner! We went to 回転寿し(Kaitenzushi) which specializes in sushi. In the restaurant there are conveyer belts that have a massive selection of sushi that passes next to the tables. You have two options, if you see a sushi that sparks your interest on the conveyer belt, you can pick it up as it is going by and start snackin! Or if you want something specific that may not be on the conveyer belt, you can use the ipad on the table to place an order for the sushi you want. Your sushi will be delivered by train…what? Above the conveyer belt, there was a track which had a shinkansen that could hold up to 4 different plates of sushi. After about 3 minutes, the train would arrive at your table and you can get the sushi off. After your sushi has safely exited, the train takes its leave back to the kitchen. How cool is that!? If you have never been to a Kaitenzushi, I highly recommend it because it is cheap and you will savor every last bite.
Tonight I made yellow rice for my homestay family. They have never had it and though it was very delicious. I brought a variety of things from America for them including cookies, sweets, etc. Every time my homestay brothers ate one of the snacks they would always comment on how “American” it tasted. I always find it funny when they say that but I understand what they mean. I have had a variety of different sweets over here and can say that what Japanese consider sweet is not what I think of sweet. For example, the cakes over here have a very mild sweet taste as compared with American cakes, which recipes call for 14 cups of sugar :). I was talking to my Japanese friends today about chocolate and peanut butter fudge and they seemed really interested to try it. None of them have even heard of fudge before which came as a surprise to me. I would love to see the look on their faces as they tried fudge because I am almost positive they would about die from sweetness overload. I am planning on making some after the mid term week has passed. I will bring it to Kansai Gaidai and just let all of the Japanese students try it out. I think that would be a good idea to spark conversation with a lot of new students as well!
Well, it is almost 1am over here now and I am getting sleepy so  I am going to call it a day. Be sure to check back next week for some photos of Kyoto! 皆さん良い一日を!

ジェイク

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