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As this seventh day comes to a close, the big news is that there is no big news. Today was a good day.
As I mentioned yesterday, I was placed into the Intermediate I class after my lackluster performance on the placement test. I had originally requested the Advanced class, but I had no idea what their idea of "Advanced" really is. After my professor evaluated my essay, and after a frustratingly slow first day in class, I decided today to ask about switching up one level. After the first two periods, I moved downstairs to sit in on the Intermediate II class. After being impressed with what I saw, I was allowed to transfer. My decision is far from unique: about half of my class ended up moving to the next level. Shifts up from the Basic II level filled the empty seats. I think that this new class will be more challenging but not overwhelming.
Last Saturday in Akihabara, I picked up a relatively cheap electronic dictionary to help me in school. It turns out that because the dictionaries are easy to use and relatively inexpensive in Japan, everyone has them. The gentleman in the morning session was not only using his, but also generating little beeps with every key press. He doesn't seem to be able to turn the beeping off, so in a way I'm glad I transferred out of that class. Dictionaries seem to be used in moderation in my new class.
The ICU summer program features a variety of cultural events, although I was very surprised to hear that each student can only sign up for three events. Today was an interesting and somewhat informative shiatsu program, and a visit to a local elementary school is planned later this week. I also plan to visit the sights at Asakusa next month, where a tourist trap has grown around a centuries-old temple.
Extracurriculars help me talk with my fellow classmates, and get to know the international population. Of course, to call International Christian University "international" is stretching the term. Full-time students come overwhelmingly from Japan, with only 5% of the student body coming from outside the island. In the summer, due in no small part to a partnership with the University of California system, U.S. citizens dominate the ranks. Still, the 117 students this summer represent 20 countries. So far, I've met folks from Canada, Taiwan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Venezuela, and Slovenia. Everyone seems happy to be here, and the folks in the dorms get to have that much more social interaction.
To compensate for the fact that I don't live in the dorm, I've been staying on campus later and later. Yesterday, I didn't get into the train station to head home until just after 5:00 PM; today, I came back later still. Consider that classes end at 12:30 PM, and that's a lot of time that I've been killing on campus.
I might be making a trip back to Akihabara with a fellow homestay student, to buy some more stuff. This other student has already bought a PlayStation 2 while here, and hopes to buy some Japanese music CDs. CDs are very expensive in Japan: a typical disc might cost ¥2500 ($20) while imports can be as much as double that. As for DVDs, they too are pricey: new discs are usually around ¥4000-5000 ($33-41) while imports are cut off by the DVD-CCA's region coding. Of course, you could always get some black-market VCDs in Akihabara for much less money.
A lot of kids in Japan have shirts that have poorly-phrased English sentences on them. I have to find and buy lots of these shirts. An otherwise reputable store had a shirt which said "DON'T WORRY - 0.0 CONFIDENCE" on it, for example.
I have to get up at 6:30 AM or earlier, I'm taking a harder language course now, and it's late. I picked the wrong time to start getting addicted to games again.