Work Hard, Play Hard




I managed to pull extra time in Japan thanks to wonderful folks in the study abroad office back home! In doing so, I’m now staying for the second block of the CIEE Ancient and Modern Japan program. This program is split into blocks, of which block 2 started late last week. Friday of the week before that through Tuesday of last week was free time between blocks, of which I spent in Tokyo.

Tokyo was a lot of fun! I saw the 1:1 scale Unicorn Gundam, as seen in the picture. It even has a transformation sequence that I caught in a video! After that I explored the shopping center that it’s outside of which is 7 floors ending with a massive Gundam model showcase and store on the top floor. I also visited the Tokyo Sky Tree, also in a picture here. I went all the way up to the floor 450 meters above the ground and looked down through the glass floor, which was quite fun. The Sky Tree has a whole shopping center at its base that I explored, including an “America and Japan BBQ Cookout” event in an open air space on the fourth floor where I, amusingly enough, had a German beer, a frankfurter and French fries. They even had fish and chips! So American… I also made a trip to Akihabara, which is a famous destination for anime fans. So much anime and game merch as well as arcades and crane games galore. I was also surprised by just how many maids of various types were standing out on the sidewalk trying to draw people in! It’s not really like anywhere else I’ve been.

While that’s a fun travel log of the highlights of my Tokyo trip, it’s not all I had on my plate. See, the extra funding for me to stay is reliant on factors that basically make it to where I needed to take the Japanese Intermediate class in block 2. I would’ve wanted to take it anyway as learning the language is a major reason I came in the first place, however there’s a bit of a jump in difficulty. The simplest way to put it is that I finished Japanese 1 and jumped into Japanese 3, as it were. I’m up for the challenge, and the first few classes are even going well, but that’s not without considerable effort. I’ve put a lot of extra studying in that continues into the beginning of this new class.

It worked out that there were 5 days that I had free between blocks and 5 chapters left in the first textbook to go over before the next class picks up the second volume. While I went out and had a lot of fun in Tokyo, I still dedicated a couple hours every day to working on a chapter of the book. Clearly cramming half a textbook over the course of a week isn’t the most effective way to catch up, but it did the job and some things stuck. What this did was give me a foundation to at least have an idea of what to reference and what to expect going into the next class. Fortunately a lot of the back half of the textbook was extensions or combinations of what I’d learned in my first block class, so I still naturally use certain turns of phrase that clicked with me in my extended cramming.

To that end though, I still have been dedicating an hour or so to go over previous content again after finishing homework for my current class. I’m so lucky to be able to stay in Japan longer, so making the time to catch up is the least I can do, and I’m still seeing results to this day.