It’s been a jolly good day today. It started off well, as last night I managed to learn a whole pile of kanji (we’re talking readings here, which I didn’t learn in the summer. The Heisig method is paying off big stylee now as I don’t have to worry about recognising them), AND install Windows XP, a process which as most of you will know from bitter experience usually takes about a week. I can no longer stand using Dreamweaver MX 2004 on the Mac, having got used to Dreamweaver 8 on Windows. There’s a world of difference between the two, not just because one is a newer version, but also because I really don’t like the way that, on a Mac, when using a program like Dreamweaver or Photoshop, it doesn’t put a background ‘screen’ on, to make the other programs dissapear. Instead you just have all the bloomin palettes floating around on top of your email program etc, unless you manually minimize the stuff in the background.
Anyway, I now have Windows XP installed (thanks to Parallels Desktop), and I tell you, it works much better on a Mac than on a Windows PC! Having said that, I won’t be using it for anything but DW8 and occasionally Photoshop CS2, as it is, after all, the route to endless frustration / viruses / Genuine Disadvantages. It uses about half of my Mac’s RAM when on the go, but I don’t actually notice it affecting the performance of OS X. It takes up about 4.5GB of hard drive space, not bad at all. It’s good to have the Windows option readily available, as occasionally I do come across stuff that has yet to be translated into a language that a proper computer can understand.
I had two classes today: Japanese essay writing, and Environmental Sociology.
The essay-writing class was pretty good. Of course we’ve covered all the basic material before in Sheffield, but I hadn’t a clue what any of the grammatical terms were. Things like “quotation mark”, “reference” – I only learnt the word for “vocabulary” last week! My lack of knowledge in this area means that when it comes to reading passages, I am utterly lost, stopping at every kanji, guessing the meaning but not having a clue how to pronounce it. I don’t actually mind though. Everyone helps me out. It’s a bit of a new experience for me though, not being one of the better students in the class. I am slowly coming to embrace my new role, in a hesitant fashion.
Following that class I headed down to the International Centre – I love that place. Such kind, helpful, relaxed and funny staff, and a big, thick metal sheet that sticks out about 4 metres about the entrance, without being supported by anything more substantial than the glass door frame. There I submitted my application for permission to engage in part-time work, only to be told that I had just missed the deadline (by 4 hours), and I could either wait until next month or go to the Immigration Bureau myself! Aagggghhh!! Not Tokyo Immigration Bureau! We all know what fun I had there in 2003. The trauma I went through thanks to their sheer incompetancy! The thousands of pounds of debt that arose from their mis-information! I was told today that not much has changed, and even they, the university staff, find dealing with the bureau extremely frustrating!
If any of my fellow Sheffieldians are thinking of applying for permission to work, feel free to join me next Thursday morning. We have to get there at about 8am apparently, as the queue tends to stretch for miles!
Speaking of Japanese Immigration, I noticed something today that really took me by surprise.
If you overstay your visa, no action will be taken against you!
How about that?! They are actually now officially stating that overstaying one’s visa is OK. I feel I should email Glenn Hook and tell him, so he can include this information in next semester’s CJS module. Another demonstration of how the Japanese authorities are trying to meet the demand for migrant workers, without actually giving them any rights.
Incidentally, there are a few conditions that must be met, such as one must not be wanted for violation of any law other than that prohibiting the overstaying of one’s visa, and one must possess a ticket or funds for a ticket to leave the country, and one must intend to leave the country immidiately (why else you’d go to immigration at Narita I don’t know. Oh, there are the cute air-hostsses I guess).
Whilst in the International Office I was told that my choice of modules had created uproar within the higher realms of university management, and my case was, unbeknownst to me, being brought before the St. Paul’s Committee (“St. Paul’s” bing the alternative name for my uni). Whether or not St. Paul himself will be present I don’t know. Apparently, I have unwittingly selected two modules that technically, I am not allowed to take, as they are continuations of modules that began in the Spring. Someone up there has declared that rules are rules, and I will not be able to get the credits for these modules, but apparently someone is petitioning St. Paul to have that ruling overturned.
Today’s Evironmental Sociology class was bloomin’ fantastic. Seki Senei’s Japanese is so clear, and she makes the effort to explain any technical term in basic Japanese (I’m sure this is not for the benefit of foreigners though. There’s about 60 of us in the class and I’m the only non-japanese). For the second week running I understood virtually everything, oooh it made me soooooo happy! She started off by talking about the court cases that came about due to Minamata, saying,
Many victims of Minamata disease opted for official recognition and a settlement before the official trial took place
The amount of pleasure that one sentence gave me as I realised I understood every single word…
This language thing, it’s like a drug.
We then watched a video about invitro-fertilisation; this was followed by an examination of the ethics involved in the termnation of pregnancies where it is known that the foetus has been damaged by environmental pollution. If someone had told me a month ago that I’d listen to a 90-minute talk on such a subject and understand most of what was said, I’d have laughed at them.
Mind you, I have studied quite a bit of environmental-vocab this past week. Also, she’s not exactly talking rocket science. A lot of it is conected with basic ethical questions, with which we are all familiar. Perhaps the biggest aid to my understanding what was going on though was Seki sensei’s presentation tecnique. Just superb. A hell of a lot easier to understand than that kanji-filled book she’s written!
Tomorrow I have my second lecture on Multicultural Bradford, as I like to call the module. I doubt I will understand anything that is said except for “and with that, we’ve finished”. Talking with a third-year student who took this module a couple of years back, I realise that even the Japanese students (who make up all but one of the class number) find it very difficult to follow. “I never knew where to start taking notes! What was important, and what wasn’t – it was impossible to tell! I kept on falling asleep in class, interesting though it was!”.
I am doomed for failure with this one, but am not overly concerned. OOhhhh such a rebel!
Speaking of oohhh’s, ooooooooooooohhhhh, I saw the grooooviest OHP (overhead projector for any nunces out there) this morning, almost worth wetting the bed over. In Sheffield, we have these huge great light boxes, about the size of a telephone box, i.e. so big that they obscure the entire white board, and the teacher. Of course, they can only be used with transparencies, and are not terribly good at dealing with colour, or black text for that matter. Here however, we have these damn sexy, damn slim tablet-like things, with cameras mounted above them. The camera feeds into the projector… and hey presto! A full colour image of whatever is placed on the pad.
I tried to come up with a reason why I need one at home. As yet, can’t think of anything. At least nothing legal.
Righty ho, better get packing!